What is the best way to study? I have a Regents Final Examination on biology tomorrow. I'm in Honors Biology, but the test we're taking tomorrow is for general biology. So, everything on this test...

What is the best way to study?

I have a Regents Final Examination on biology tomorrow. I'm in Honors Biology, but the test we're taking tomorrow is for general biology. So, everything on this test will be super generalized and simple, which is really hard for me. I'm getting the simplest questions wrong because I think too hard!

Anyways, what would be the best way to study in my position?

Should I just do a bunch of practice tests from past regents examinations and fix what I get wrong?


Should I use my textbook to go over everything I've learned


Go over what I know I don't know in the textbook and then take a practice test.

I want to know which of these (or your own method) I should use and why/how it works.


Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To a great degree, what works in studying is an individual matter. However, there are a few tips based on recent educational research, that might help.

Sleep Matters: If it is a choice between getting a full night's sleep and spending extra time cramming for an exam, choose the sleep. Because sleep deprivation reduces your ability to perform complex cognitive tasks, taking time away from sleep to study will actually hurt test performance.

Eat Breakfast: Hunger and dehydration can both affect test performance. Take the time to eat a healthy balanced breakfast, with a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates for sustained mental energy. Avoid sugary foods or drinks, as the sharp energy boost can be followed by an energy crash.

Moderation is best: If you spend too much time studying, you overload the capacity of your mind to process and store information. Instead, set aside perhaps two one-hour long study sessions, one before and one after dinner. Take a moderate walk or bike ride both before and after the earlier study session to clear your head (some studies show that exercise helps in retention of information and test performance).

Practice tests: At this point, you should be confident in your knowledge. I'd recommend one pre-dinner and one post-dinner practice test. When you evaluate your performance on them, focus mainly on test-taking strategy. Did you waste time on any specific types of questions? Did you have enough time left over to review your tests in the allocated time period, or were you pressed for time? (if the latter, how can you work more efficiently?) Were there questions where you knew the subject matter but had difficulty understanding the question? Were there specific types of questions you found difficult? Rather than focusing review time on details, use your practice test sessions to work on strategic planning. 

tropicalia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've been in your situation many times, Nolan.  College professors love to give out comprehensive final exams!  Here's what I found to be the most helpful.

Know that this will take a lot of time!  Since this is comprehensive, you are trying to brush up on an entire semester's worth of information.  Biology is very expansive and this will be a big undertaking! HOWEVER, this shouldn't scare you.  Not having enough time is what will cause a lot of fear, so give yourself plenty!

Next, go over your notebook.  Read the notes you took out loud.  Be deliberate and really try to remember what you were learning at that time.  Reading out loud is the key to focus and remembrance.

Keep a blank sheet of paper beside you to write down topics that are unfamiliar or you just need to brush up on.  Do not look up these things immediately; finish reading your notebook.

Next, if you have access to the professor's PowerPoint presentation or other lecture materials, review that.  The professor isn't going to waste his time teaching you material that won't be on a future exam.  Do look over your past exams and see what you missed.  Figure out why you missed it as well, because you could miss it again!

Reading from a textbook to relearn information was always a challenge for me.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this youtube channel.  It's very heavily focused around Biology and is extremely clear with their lessons.  Plus the animation is high quality!  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_cznB5YZZmvAmeq7Y3EriQ

I feel that once you know all the material, especially gleaned from your notes and the professor's lecture materials, you will feel more connected to how your test will be.  

One last thing:  The more you know, the bigger edge you will have.  Even if it is a general biology test, you will be well prepared.  You won't get things wrong unless your information in your mind is wrong.  

Good luck!