Review Strategies When Preparing for a College Exam


The best way to ace an exam is to prepare, and the best way to prepare is to come up with a plan and a strategy. Here are some reviewing strategies that you can consider for the big battle ahead.

1. Skim the whole material, then do it piece by piece. An exam typically tackles a topic in a particular section of the course syllabus, this means that you need to take a step back and treat it as a single unit. Take note of how one topic flows into the next and how each part correlates with one another. This will allow you to visualise the whole subject as a complex structure of different parts. Even if you miss something, you will be more likely to make an educated guess, considering that you already have knowledge of the bigger picture.

After skimming over the material, it’s time to focus on each lesson step by step. Do it systematically and patiently. Pore over the details but don’t forget to relate it back to the general subject.

2. Organise all the information into bite-sized bits, use visual aids, etc.. Now that you have all the information you need in your head, the next job is to organise the information for better recall. Condense all related information into small parts, and visualise them into charts or visual representations that are easy to remember. Psychology Today notes that visual cues help in memorising information. This makes recall much easier, and will also help your brain fit in all the info within the limited amount of time.

3. Review with a study partner. Having a study partner can make reviewing more stimulating and enjoyable, helping to turn it into a more positive experience. Positive experiences tend to stick in your memory, and this can help you remember details in your review session. Study partners can also challenge you to do better or point out some bits you might have missed.

4. Take a coffee nap. If you’re already burned out and you want to take a break, why not take a coffee nap? The science behind coffee naps has already been established, and its effective nature has a lot to do with the sleep hormone adenosine. Coffee competes with adenosine for your brain’s receptors, making you less sleepy. Sleep, on the other hand, decreases adenosine. Put the two together and you’ll feel like Superman when you wake up, allowing you to resume studying with more enthusiasm.

To do a coffee nap, drink a cup of coffee quickly then take a nap (maximum of 15 minutes). If you can’t fall asleep, closing your eyes and relaxing is the second best option.

5. Go over it all over again. The best way to prepare for an exam is to take mini-reviews, preferably every day after school. This is also the reason why you need to go over the material over and over again to make it stick.