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Six Tips to Prepare for Exams

Learn the measures you can take to be best prepared for your college exams.

Most college courses require students to take midterm and final exams. Exam time, especially finals, can be stressful. You're almost done, but you have one last hurdle to overcome, and it's a major one. The following tips can help you better prepare for your midterms and final exams.

Start early. Ideally, exam preparation begins on the first day of class. Make an effort from the start to attend each class, take thorough notes and keep up on reading. Keeping a steady pace as you go is much easier than trying to play catch-up at the last minute. Take thorough notes on the topics your professor covers in class because they will likely be on an exam.

Create a study schedule. Create a calendar outlining a daily topic review schedule. Cover a small amount of material each day. It may be easier to commit small pieces of information to memory over a longer period of time than memorizing a lot of information in one sitting. When you create your calendar, account for time you will need to prepare your study materials.

Prepare study materials. Studying your class notes alone isn't likely to get you where you need to be. Writing down information in your own words can help you remember it. Consider creating flashcards or an outline, particularly if you are a visual learner. If you create flashcards, use them to study on your own or with a study partner or group. When you're alone, recite the information on the cards aloud or record yourself reciting your flashcards. Replay the recording later when you study.

Join a study group. Studying with your classmates can help you stay focused and motivated. Study groups also create accountability, so you're less likely to procrastinate or put off studying altogether. If you struggle with materials covered in class, ask your study group for help. Collaborate with your group members on information and concepts. Teaching others can reinforce your understanding of the material.

Review class handouts and previous assignments. Your course syllabus explains what you'll cover during the semester. Review it to be sure you haven't missed anything. Use your syllabus to get organized as you create study materials. Don't forget to review any additional handouts from your professor and go over previous assignments, such as essays or quizzes. Topics on quizzes often reappear in an exam.

Relax. Don't panic. Exams can seem overwhelming, but remember, you're prepared. Avoid cramming the night before the test. Be sure to get a good night's sleep so you're able to concentrate during the exam. On exam day, eat breakfast; an empty stomach can be a distraction.

For more study tips, visit the Academic, Test Taking and Study Skills Readiness section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO, or visit your school's tutoring center. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select 'Adult Education Centers' under the 'Select or program or service' drop-down menu. Next, enter your installation or postal code. Choose the radius you would like to search within and click ‘Go.’ You can also speak with a career coach at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature in the header of MySECO.

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