many of you have exams in a couple of weeks – here are some hints on how to study for them.
1) don’t start out by reading books in great detail – first look at the overall logic of the material. Concentrate a bit on the table of contents and look at how the text is structured. That will help you understand how the information in each chapter relates to the other chapters and will reinforce your memory.
2) After getting an impression of the logic of the text, look more deeply at how the topics are structured in each chapter. This means looking at paragraph structure and pulling out the big ideas. What are the authors actually saying (“actually” = in reality, not “currently”). So – read each chapter for big ideas and high-impact information. What does the author want you to understand from this chapter? If you don’t understand it, why? Sometimes the problem is the author – so you have to work at understanding the overall picture first.
3) look for details or specific information in the chapters that will help you remember the overall message of the chapter, and then the overall message of the book! This means making a selection of information that YOU can relate to the purpose of the chapter. Not everyone will focus on exactly the same points – that’s ok. The important thing is that you are able to talk about the material, or answer written questions about the material that reflect the logic of the information in the texts/class material/slides etc.
This takes time!!! While the energy that comes out by procrastinating has some positive effect on short-term memory, overall you will learn the material better if you set yourself a schedule that logically connects the parts of the material you have to study. At the beginning of each study session, review what you studied last session for a few minutes. Don’t look at each chapter as something disconnected, creating too many “mental frames” to keep track of. When you read, take some notes, according to the structure laid out above. I’ve seen so many used textbooks that are covered in highlighter or pencil markings. DO NOT UNDERLINE OR HIGHLIGHT EVERYTHING – that is counter productive. Take the time to make notes about main ideas, and then some schematic “detail markers” to support the main ideas. This will help you remember the major points when you go back and review them.
Go back and review!!! Picture it: you’ve got 12 days to study for Rossi’s written exam. The material is divided into two 40 page booklets. That means about 1 week each. If you separate the ideas totally, you’re cramming too much material into 1 week. As you read and take notes, you are creating a data base that allows you go back and relate main ideas. That means that while you read the first book the first week, when you start reading the second book, you begin reviewing the main ideas of the first book. This has the function of combining the study periods of both books, allowing you a) make better sense out of the information and b) remember it better.
Finally (although I could go on!) – DON’T GET TOO NERVOUS ABOUT IT!!! A bit of worry is a good thing, it gives an emotional energy to the study process that actually strengthens the memory. Excessive worry on exam day can block your memory, however, because you’re mind and body aren’t thinking about the information and questions in front of you, but rather are working only to get the experience over with.
Do whatever you can legally to come to the exam in a calm, well rested and digested mood!!!! You’ll have a better time!!!
All the best to you!!!