What is the best way to review for exams? Do you have any ideas how I could memorize or learn everything I did from the beginning of the year? I have end of year exams, and i can't learn anything without forgetting it sometime later. Please help me!

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The best way to study for an exam really depends on the exam.  If it's memorization you need, I agree that flash cards are extremely helpful.  Make sure you know how to study with flash cards.  For other types of tests, take practice tests.

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I always try to provide my students with an outline of information that will help students perform better on tests. I go over this information in class. Each school is different. Some offer a section of a final with relevant vocabulary. Depending on the subject, the test may have many questions (as with English or social studies/history) or may be shorter (as with math).

If you have been keeping up with your course work all along, this will make things easier, rather than seeing some material for the first time on a test. For English, instead of reading a novel again, I would review it. (eNotes is a perfect place for this: it refreshes in your mind what you may have read months ago.) If you have used a textbook, looking through it leisurely when you have some free time is a good idea. Looking at old tests and any comments on them might clarify questions that might appear on your final.

Two things, in general, I find extremely important. Don't wait to review until the night before. Spread it out, or you will find yourself overwhelmed. Also, try to get a good night's sleep before each day of finals. Make sure to eat something, and try to get to school on time so you don't feel rushed. Come to your class prepared with whatever materials you are allowed. I would suggest also bringing a book, magazine or newspaper in case you finish early, if this is allowed.

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The brain remembers a large amount of what it learns if you review it within a few hours after learning it. It remembers less and less with the increase of time between when you learn it and when you review it. Your best option is to review things shortly after learning them, and then when studying, study it for awhile every night. Also find other ways of learning and studying. For example, set the things you need to learn to music or motion. These strategies will make it easier to retrieve the information for  your exams.

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I tell my students to follow the following:

  • Create 10 questions about things you do not know, or understand, or remember from the lesson.
  • Read for information to answer the questions.
  • Answer the questions by paraphrasing.
  • Make connections (what happened before and after the event)
  • Rewrite the fact you just learned about in a complete sentence.

Also, skim the chapters and highlight the key words. Make sure that you have a synonym for each term. This will help you make a great connection between the words and their meaning.

Most importantly, keep a "thought log". Whatever question comes to your mind, or whatever confuses you, just write it down and seek just that question. This way you will not be overwhelmed by having to read everything.  Have fun and enjoy your time in school!

 

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In addition to the above suggestions, which are great, I have a few more thoughts. First, creating an outline of your notes and class materials helps you to structure what you are expected to know, which allows you to make connections, leading to a deeper form of learning and remembering.  Second, if it is not too late, form a study group with others whom you have a high opinion of as students.  Together, you can review any concepts that are complex, explain things to one another, and create outlines together.  I would not have gotten through law school without a great study group.  Third, with or without a study group, arrange to have someone else test you on the material.  There was an article a few months ago in The New York Times about the efficacy of testing oneself before taking an exam.  In the study discussed, the results were striking.  Fourth, teach someone else the materials you are responsible for understanding.  This is an excellent way to solidify your own grasp and help you to see where the "holes" might be in your learning. Finally, always force yourself to articulate concepts and facts in your words, not the words of the professor or the text. If you cannot do this, you have not learned.

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Underscoring what the previous posts have mentioned, the more "active" your study, the better.  If you are a visual learner, then writing out important points, etc. is essential.  And, if you have a good memory for color, use different colored ink to categorize concepts.  If you are an aural learner, having someone else quiz you and review with you may help you recall information during the exam because your memory will recall having heard the question or the answer,etc.

Do you have any of your old exams?  If so, review them.  If not, try to recall which questions and which types of questions were asked.  Most teachers review their previous exams, and they naturally format tests similarly to previous ones.  Textbooks afford a way to review, as well, since sections are created in them, boldface is used for important ideas, sidebars have notes, questions, etc.  So, go back through the chapters to be covered on the exam.  So many times another look in the textbook will reveal things that have not been recorded in one's notes.

Studying and then sleeping has been proven to increase memory as neurons connect ideas and information as your body rests.  So, give yourself time to sleep in between study sessions.  Above all, get a good night's sleep on the eve of the exam. 

During the exam, do not stress over one question.  Move on, and come back if you have time. Above all, trust your first hunches on multiple choice. That students are usually correct on the first impulse when they take multiple choice or fill in the blank has been proven.  As a teacher, I have seen the truth of this study over and over. If you have studied well, relax and be confident!

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I would suggest doing anything that makes you interact more with your notes.  For example, I would suggest trying to write a summary of each the notes for each unit that you have studied during the term.  This makes you try to think not only about the specific facts (which you could do via flash cards as in Post 2), but also about how the facts go together with one another.  A broader understanding like this will help you to remember the details better.

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I would say that the first place to start is to speak to the teachers who are setting the exams and make sure you know precisely what it is that you are going to be tested on and how the exam will be ministered. Will it be multiple choice? Will you have to write essays? This will guide your revision. Then, you need to go back through your notes making notes on your notes until you have effectively highlighted the key information that you need and can produce revision notes to revise from. Going over these, writing them out again if necessary, and working with friends to test each other on possible questions would be an excellent way to prepare yourself. Good luck!

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One obvious way to review for major exams to reread your notes and textbook, but that is a kind of passive means to study.  I find that students do better in review when they actually have to DO something with the material.  I would suggest going through your old notes and text and creating note cards/ flash cards.  Actually creating the cards in the first place forces you to focus on an essential piece of information and your brain is very engaged in HOW to create a short flash note. Just creating the cards in the first place is a great method of review.

Once the cards are created, then you can go through and quiz yourself.  The great thing about flash cards is that if you look at the front of the card and can't say anything about what is on the back, you know FOR CERTAIN that you don't know that piece of material, and it is something you should spend a bit more time on.

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