As a college student, you are no stranger to cramming. Maybe you teach yourself the material one day, regurgitate it on the exam the next day, and forget it the next.
This guide by Patrick Allan is fantastic. But there is something here that is missing. What if you are like the majority of college students and you haven’t even picked up the book yet? What if you are weeks behind on the reading?
You aren’t ready to start creating practice exams just yet.
This is the reality that most college students, like yourself, face. So this guide will help you catch up to the point that will make Allen’s guide usable for you.
Figure Out What is Being Tested
Before you can start studying for a mid-term final you need to know what material will be covered. One way to get the information you need is to ask the teaching assistant for some insight.
The T.A. will be able to let you know what will be covered on the exam. This will prevent you from reading chapter ten when only chapters 11-14 will be tested.
This is the first step to preparing smarter when you have fallen behind.
Find Your “Gaps” and Fill Those in First
Finding and filling the gaps in your knowledge is the second step. Let me explain this with a metaphor.
Let’s say that you play basketball. You already are confident in your ability to shoot a right handed layup. Maybe you make about 95% of them. But when you move to the other side of the hoop and shoot left handed layups you only make 45%. If you want to become a better player it makes sense to practice left handed layups first. This is true in studying also.
You will want to fill in your “gaps” in the material. Focus on studying what you don’t know and improve on that, rather than taking time to practice what you already have a solid grasp on.
How do You Find Your Gaps?
To find out what your “gaps” are, you will need to take a look at your notes.
Hopefully throughout the year you were taking good in-depth notes. These will come in handy now.
You can use these notes to create flashcards and practice exams to help you study. Use this helpful guide on Spreeder and Anki that can help you maximize your notes.
If you didn’t take great notes throughout the year then you will want to take a look at the table of contents for the whatever the test will be on and write down what it is that you are unfamiliar with. These will be the “gaps” that you need to fill in.
Create a Practice Exam and Follow the Guide
Now that you are caught up to where you need to be you can begin to utilize the guide by Allan. The first step of his guide is to create practice exams.
Using your notes and flashcards that you created with Anki, you are ready to create a practice exam. Like we talked about above, you will want your exam to focus on areas that you consider “gaps”.
A great resource for you to use is Testmoz. This will allow you to create a practice exam that you can come back to over and over.
For more study tips take a look at the lecture video “Study Less, Study Smart” by Marty Lobdell. It is an hour long but it will prove to be worth your time. If you want the cliff notes version check out another article by Allan at Lifehacker.
If you feel that you are already too far behind, maybe you lack solid notes and because of this you don’t even know where to begin, I recommend you take a look at my course called Save My GPA. It will walk you through how you can become a better student so you don’t feel as stressed come exam time.