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Studying and Test Taking

Study Spaces

Avoid temptation; avoid distractions: Work where you can’t see the T.V. or other activities you would rather be doing.

Choose wisely.

  • Dorm room.
  • Common area.
  • Library.

Peace and Quiet.

  • Turn off the T.V. 
  • Find a place where it is quiet or you can listen to music conducive to your studying.

Good lighting.

  • Have a bright light above the spot where you read and write.  

Roomy writing surface.

  • Have room to spread out your materials in front of you.

Firm chair.

  • Can be comfortable, but not too comfortable: no sleeping!

All Materials are handy.

  • Don’t waste valuable study time searching for your book, notes, old tests, study guide, favorite  pen etc. 

Preparing for the Test


  • Begin early (the day the material is presented!).
  • Organize your notes, handouts, and assignments. 
  • Conduct short daily review sessions. 
  • Create a study schedule (and stick to it!).

Anticipate test content.

  • Ask the instructor what will be on the test. 
  • Make a list of questions you would ask if you were writing the test. 
  • Review old tests from the semester to get an idea of the format. 
  • Make note of clues that indicate what the teacher might put on the test: this will be on the test!

Study Actively.

  • Make flash cards.
  • Predict exam questions.
  • Create graphic organizers.
  • Write summaries.

Active Studying

You may think you are studying when you expose your eyes to the pages of a book or your ears to an instructor. In order for information to be retained in your long-term memory, a much more active approach must be used. In order to be successful, you need to actively connect with the material by keeping your mind on your assignment rather than on other events in your life.

Tips and Suggestions For Active Learning.

  • Arrive to class prepared to participate. 
  • When the teacher asks a question, answer it silently or aloud. 
  • Ask questions - out loud or to yourself during classes.  
  • Identify the material you find most challenging, and spend additional time reviewing that information.
  • Record and maintain organization of your notes.  
  • Use visuals to reinforce important and difficult information.
  • Cover your notes, and re-define important vocabulary terms.  Double-check the definitions in your notes for accuracy.

Strategies for Improving Test Performance

  • Gain control of your time and materialsfind a quiet place to study.
  • Develop an interest in the topic.
  • Take accurate notes during classes.
  • Review and organize your notes after each class.
  • Study to remember: Use SQ3R.
  • Take an active approach: predict exam questions, and write out answers.
  • Test yourself on a regular basisfigure out what you know, and what you don’t know.

Study Groups

Study Groups…how to make them work for you

Prepare a list of questions for the teacher. Designate someone from the group to write down anything you aren’t 100% sure of. Then have someone bring those questions to the teacher to make sure you haven’t come up with a wrong answer. This requires one important condition: you can’t study at the very last minute! Make sure you have enough time to run questions by the teacher. 

Give yourself enough time to discuss the material. If you’re rushed for time, you’re much more likely to accept the first idea on the table. 

Come to the group prepared. All group members should look at their notes and the readings before going to the group. That way, if someone comes up with inaccurate information, the group is more likely to be well informed enough to know better. Do not rely on the group to teach you the information, you could come away worse off.

Avoid dead weight. Don’t invite someone to join your group unless they are prepared. Otherwise, they are wasting your time. They won’t be able to effectively contribute to the pool of ideas.  It’s best to avoid groups with friends you will socialize with, you’d be surprise how much time you’ll waste.

Avoid group members who are too dominant. It’s common for someone to gravitate towards being the leader of your study group, and usually this is constructive. But if that person is unwilling to listen to other ideas, it is an ineffective study group for other members.

Don’t be afraid to disagree. The point of a study group is to make everyone more knowledgeable about the material. If someone says something that sounds questionable, it’s in everybody’s best interest that you speak up.

Quiz each other from old tests and quizzes. It’s an effective way to anticipate possible test questions and cover important material that you may overlook on your own.