Typically, when you take a test, it will be set up in one of four ways: multiple choice, true and false, short-answer or a combination of the three. There’s a right, and a wrong, way to study for each type of test. If your professor has given you a heads-up that your next exam will be multiple choice, here’s how to study:
1. Make Flashcards
Carry a pack of note cards with you in your bag. When your professor tells you that something is very important, or that you’ll be seeing it on the test, make a note card. When you’re studying, construct note cards that you can flip through when you’ve got a spare 10 minutes.
To make effective note cards, write one question on the front and one answer on the back. Resist the urge to fill your cards with several facts and tidbits of miscellaneous information. Doing so will quickly turn your cards from effective study aids to useless time wasters.
2. Study Frequently
If you don’t commit information to your long-term memory, you’ll not remember a thing when it comes time to take your exam. To commit things to long-term memory, you need to drill yourself in short, frequent bursts. Rather than sitting down for a marathon study session the evening before your exam, reread your notes every evening. Keep your flashcards in your bag and pull them out whenever you have a spare few minutes. Studying in this manner will move the information from your short-term to your long-term memory.
3. Find a Buddy
Studying with a partner is an effective way of preparing for a test. Have someone quiz you using your note cards; you’ll be unable to flip the card over for the answer! As your friend is helping your study, have them put the answers you got right into one pile and the ones you got wrong into another pile. Study your “wrong” pile every day and have your friend quiz you again, adding to the “right” pile. There’s no need to continue to study information that you’ve committed to memory.
4. Practice Tests
If your text book has practice tests, or your professor offers them, take full advantage! Taking the practice test will give you better insight as to what you can expect on the exam. Look carefully at the answers that you’ve missed; make new note cards if necessary.
Don’t stay up the night before your exam trying to cram all of the information into your head. If you’ve been studying correctly, you either know the information or you don’t by this time. If you don’t, staying up all night isn’t going to help you retain anything! Get a good night’s sleep so that your mind is alert when it comes to taking your test.
Studying correctly is the key to passing your exam. By making note cards, quizzing yourself and taking advantage of practice tests, you’ll be sure to perform to the best of your ability.
Jeremy Clark is a writer and finance advisor earning his mba degree online.