Study Tips & Time Management

Test Taking Ideas


Skill needed is to "Pull stuff out of the air" on a test.

The following ideas were brainstormed by upper classmen/women as to what works for them.





Many of the pre-test activities can be done individually or in a group. Often, you want to start out individually and then finish the activity in a group, such as working example problems by your self, then discussing what you did with others, or creating a crib sheet and comparing to others.

Start studying and reviewing early - - Ideal is beginning with the first day of class. If not then, than begin your review at least a week before the exam is scheduled. A small review, one hour daily, for seven days is much better, memory wise, than 7 hours of study the night before the exam.

Stay current with the material. Clarify any confusion as soon as you can. There is nothing more stressful then studying for an exam and realizing that what you thought you would figure out "later" has to be done NOW.

Don't forget about previous courses. Many courses demand knowledge from a previous course to be able to solve a current problem. IEA will show up in several courses down the line, as well as Chem. of Materials, and Calculus is the common language spoken in all of your science courses.

Review current techniques being stressed in the class. Be aware of past techniques used. Know the names of techniques, so that you can use the correct procedure when asked to calculate "using zxovoyvo's theorem or rule". You could correctly solve a problem, but because you didn't use the asked for theorem, you will not get credit for the answer.

 Formula sheet: Practice with friends throwing the formulas out in front of the study group. What would this formula be used for? What did you have to watch out for to make sure you get the correct answer? ( signs, exponential?)

Try to predict what is going to be on the test.

Look at the problems done in class, by the professor or as group problems.
What was assigned as homework? What problems did the TA's emphasize in the recitation sessions?
What kind of problem could combine the ideas learned in the last two or three classes?
What kind of problems could summarize the unit?


Get to know the professor. Some professors see the test as another opportunity to learn and will give hints before the exam, as to what will be covered, or even during the exam, as to whether you are on the "right track".

Go see the professor and discuss the up coming test, asking for types of problems you can work on to make sure you understand the concepts being covered. A professor often will guide you to the kinds of problems being tested, and tell you which types not to concern yourself about. Occasionally the TA will know the types of questions the professor will be testing and will be able to guide your study.

Ask the professor if past exams are available for you practice, or if the professor has back tests available electronically. Also check with Alpha Phi Omega. If you do work a back test, and the answers are not included, make time to see the professor or TA to go over your work to make sure you are doing the correct procedure.


Listen to the lectures.

If the professor spends more than 2 or 3 minutes on a problem, he/she feels it is important enough to test.
Did they go to a bit of trouble to draw and describe a graph?
How about the problems they really went into detail working out in class?
Did they say the concept "could be applied to - - - "?


Look at the problems assigned as homework.

Translate the problem into English.
Write everything down that you need to know about the problem or do to the problem to solve it. Don't leave any of it in your head.
What could be deleted from this problem to make it look completely different, but could be used on a test?
What could be added to the problem?
How could the problem be re-written to seem different or combine with another problem?


Re-work examples from lecture and textbook. Especially the ones that you think you know how to do, but have never covered up the answer and done. If you haven't worked it with out looking, you just may not really know how to do it.



Include in your crib sheet:

Material to be covered on the exam
What formulas would you need to have available?
Example problems
Important points to remember,
Areas that cause you confusion, that you need to keep straight, such as sign conventions,
Important theorems or laws, by NAME as well as by formula.
Compare the crib sheet you make with your friends. Why do you have "stuff" they don't and vice versa?


Beware the OPEN BOOK/ OPEN NOTE test. You must study for this as if you have no book or notes. Why? Because since you have "all the material before you" the professor can make it that much harder! Make a crib sheet to organize the information to save time. Paginate your crib notes in case you need more detail from the text or lecture notes.


For OPEN TEXT /NO NOTES, tab the pages of your book. Use margin notes to organize


For Multiple choice test: Study as if the answer is not given. A good multiple choice test can be very difficult. Practice writing your own multiple choice questions. What would you include that would be "tricky", or have very small differences in answers? How would you write the question so that the answer isn't a "give away"?


For Essay exam: Look at the topics covered in the class. Make a list of questions that ask you to compare and contrast ideas, to look for similarities, to analyze, to synthesize, to draw conclusions, to express your ideas based on the information given. Write out an outline to the questions you predicted.





Take care of bathroom needs.
Make sure you are not hungry.
Get plenty of rest the night before so that your mind is rested and sharp.


STAY AWAY form people stressing out about the exam, just before the exam. Even if you KNOW what you have learned and feel comfortable, these "worrying/stressed" people can shake your confidence.


Also stay away from people that are totally unconcerned about the test. They can destroy your confidence, too.



Think about what you might know:
Describe what to do if you knew the formula
Draw a picture if possible, and label it.
Highlight the important information in the question, and the parts that you have to answer. (nothing worse than getting back a test to see that you forgot to answer part c).
Ask the professor - describe what to do but can't get formula, professors have been known to give hints
What are the givens? Can you use a unit analysis to determine the answer from the givens and the thing you are asked to find? (algebraic manipulation of the units)
Skip and come back to it later.
Look at problem
Analyze it:
What's going on
What formulas could you use based on the givens and unknown?
Write down an explanation of what should happen in the situation.


Keep an "eye" out for similar material on the test. Another problem might have part of the formula that you need. (this has happened)


In some courses, such as Chem. Mat., sometimes the Question asked is answered later in the test.


Answers: analyze what you got for an answer. Does it "feel" correct? If it doesn't, what feels wrong about it. Some people have gotten credit on an exam because they spotted that an answer was incorrect, stated why they knew it was incorrect and what the answer should have been ( or the range of an acceptable answer), but could not "fix" because of lack of time, or could not spot the error in the calculations.


For Multiple choice test: When you read the beginning of the question, answer the question in your head before looking at the answers given and then choose the one or combination of answers that most closely matches the one you would have written in.


For Essay exam: Write out an outline to the questions you are to answer before you begin your answers. If you do not have time to finish, you at least have a record of "where" you wanted your answer to go. Points have been given based on the outlines in the margins of the test answer booklet.




After the first exam, go over the test and your notes and home work very carefully. Answering these questions should help you become better at predicting the nest test.

Where did the problems on the exam come from?
Which sections of the book did they cover in detail, and which sections were skipped?
How did they go with the lectures and assignments, both in and out of class?
Were they similar to your homework problems?
Did they follow the examples worked out in class?
Were they like group problems?
How about the suggested, but not graded, problems?
Were there combinations of problems, or re-written, asking you to find what was previously given in homework problems?


Correct the exam. Once the exam is corrected, make an appointment to see the professor or TA to go over your corrections, to make sure your reasoning is correct, and properly done. Then you can use the test as a review guide for the final.


Check grading and points to make sure the correct grade is calculated. Make sure that a problem marked wrong is wrong. Professors will often add points if there is a grading mistake or if the points are added incorrectly. If you bring an error to their attention, that is not in your favor, rarely do they take points away from you (a reward for honesty).