I think that the biggest challenges that come with the daunting task of college is the tests. In college it is different from the fluffy "busy work" that was generated constantly in high school. College classes can sometimes only consist of three grades or less. For anyone that is not the hottest test taker in the world this constitutes a yelp of fright. These grades follow you for the rest of your life and that is kind of scary when you think about it.
Okay so I might not be ace test taker but I have gotten better, and I have a few tips that have made me a much better one that I didn't grasp in high school. Because high school you can skim over stuff and be good about 95% of the time.
Ashley's Test Survival Tips:
- Ask questions! First day of class before I even enter the room I try and get my hands on the syllabus, I read through it and then when I walk into class I ask questions and clarify as much as possible. Big things to know before you take the test, What are the test dates? Is the final comprehensive? How do the tests graded? The format of a test? What would the professor recommend studying? How much time needs to be put towards studying? Are study guides provided? All of those questions are going to give you the information you need to succeed in the class, you might not get them in before the end of that first class, but ask them long before the daunting day comes upon you! Then that way you will be much better prepared and know what to expect that day of the test!
- Do the study guide, early. The study guide if the professor provides one is one of the most powerful tools for a test. The earlier you get it and the earlier you actually DO IT, the better your chances for understanding all the information on the test. If you just do it quickly the night before, this is not going to help but hinder you. Now math might be the one exception to the rule, because you could be told to study one thing and then the test format look completely different, so that just more or less depends on if your math professor is being extra nice. With English the rubric can be your study guide, know that rubric inside and out when you write your papers and see if you can see yourself fitting into the guidelines the professor would like to have. A person can easily loose a point for not following the instructions correctly.
- Office hours are your friend. Whenever I am working on something and I run across a concept or subject that completely baffles me I need to get some clarification from the horse's mouth. Professors have scheduled office hours to benefit you, not so they can play solitaire for an hour. Use these hours people! I have been able to do better on tests because I actually understand what I am studying or making sure I am doing something correctly and your teachers are people too and like to socialize and talk about all different kinds of subjects.
- Homework exists for a reason. Professors and I have something in common, we both hate it when someone asks out loud, "Why do we have to do this homework if we are not going to turn it in?" Well homework puts to understanding of what you know into some type of assignment, if you don't do your homework you are not preparing yourself for class and ultimately asking to fail on the tests.
- Re-reading is a refresher. Depending on if you highlight, take notes, or just read the book going over what you have done once is going to ensure more information is retained. Ideally you want to be actively reading so not just highlighting information down but writing down important concepts and any questions you might have. Reading over what you have or just the chapter can be helpful if you do it the night before a test, this can be one of your final study moments making sure you keep all the information you need in you head.
- Learn how you learn. By understanding yourself and what kind of learner you are really helps your success on a test. I tend to lean more towards visual learning than audio learning. So seeing something helps me remember things much better than just hearing it once or twice, I have to see it for it to stick in my brain. Everyone is different, and even different classes can be different. Some of my classes I have a study partner that tests me on certain subjects, flashcards sometimes work better in others. It depends on the structure of the test and what the subject matter is. By learning about yourself only benefits your grades.
- It's okay to be nerdy. I would rather be the nerd that got the A on the test and a scholarship to the four year school of my choice than the person that flunked out of community college because I didn't want to put a little work in my education. Believe me working hard now is going to pay off a million times more a few years to even months down the road. I know it is hard for some people but by participating in class and letting your ideas be known, you can really go far in life. I also tend to sit in the first rows but mainly to ensure I stay awake and do not past out when I spent a late night studying.
- Have a study schedule. Studying just five minutes before an exam is never going to give you a passing grade. Setting a schedule and laying out all the things that need to be known for a test and done is going to give you time to get ready for a test. Simply reviewing over notes the night before will do wonders before you go to sleep. Knowing also that if you study better at certain times during the day is helpful. I tend to study and retain more information during the morning. Sometimes I will wake up several hours before school like 5 am to study for a test because I can never stay up late and study for something and remember. Everyone is different, but having a late night cram session or staying up all night to write a paper is only going to reflect that in your workmanship. Just like learning to play an instrument you have to give fine tests skills time and the more you study over a longer amount of time, the less you are remembering and the more you are knowing.
- Color code! I am a stickler for colors, I love them and have an entire bag full of highlighters and different colored pens for my notes. But this is a helpful thing for remembering things. I dedicate certain colors for certain things I want to remember and when I look over my study guide, books, or notes I can recall the exactly what we were talking about in class. These color coders can help refresh my memory if the test is a few months or weeks later than we I first looked over something.
- Don't forget the cherry on top. Remember eat, sleep, and rest before a test. Take a few deep breathes and don't panic. I feel like I am writing something out of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All these little things will help with the day of the test. After the test and you get out early, treat yourself. All that hard work paid off. And when you get that test back with a big shiny A on it, go play a round of laser tag or hang out with your friends. You totally deserve it and then next week you will begin it all over again!