March 21, 2011

Exam Tips

In a week all the first year students of the international department of the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, aka Hogeschool van Amsterdam, will start their midterms. For those, who started their study in February it will be a new experience, no doubt a very stresstful one. I have to admit that having on average 8 tests in one week is more than stresstful. Not sure whether the effects of such shock therapy are a good way to filter the students in their first year, but it definitely works as a wake up call for those who regularly chose their pillow, coffee with a friend or any other matter aside school over the lectures.

In any case, whether you studied hard from the very first day of your study or plan on starting studying for your exams today (today is exactly a week before the beginning of the testing period and many students leave this week for the studying marathon), I thought it would be useful to give some exam tips.

  1. Sleep. Make sure that no matter how much time you spend studying this prep week, you still get an 8 hour sleep. The benefits of that is that you will be able to remember more information as your brain would be rested and by sleeping enough you can actually survive through this exam period.
  2. Sugar. Before the exam, eat something with sugar or bring some chocolate for during the exam. Sugar is good for your brain. Luckily in Holland, food is allowed during the tests.
  3. Water. Hydrating is important, so have a little bottle of water with you and take it easy on drinking too much water before the exams. Trips to the bathrooms are not allowed and let’s face it, when you really have to use the loo, that is all you can think of, so it will be harder to focus on the exam questions.
  4. Pens. Make sure you bring several of them just in case to avoid unnecessary worries.
  5. Read the questions carefully. Very often students do not think this one is an important rule, but I come across wrong answers on exams so often only because a student did not get the question right. If you are asked to define something and give an example, make sure you do that instead of simply naming it.
  6. Readable handwriting. If the teacher cannot read what you wrote, you might get a 0 points for that question, so make sure your answers are possible to read.
  7. Close your notes and textbooks before the exam. About an hour before the exam, stop studying, let you brain rest before it has to work very hard during the test.
  8. Be calm. Do not panic as the first time we read the exam questions, it seems like we never heard those terms before.
  9. Start with what you know and what takes the least time. If you have a mix of multiple-choice questions, open questions and a case in your test, always start with a multiple choice questions, then open ended questions and the case. This will leave you more time at the end to questions that are more difficult. Unless you do not know answers to the multiple choice questions, then move to the open questions but do not forget to get back to the unanswered ones.
  10. Before reading the case, read the case questions. There is no point to read the text if you do not know what to look for. So read the case questions and then read the case keeping them in mind.

There is no magic in the advice given. Very simple and obvious. Certainly will not help you much if you did not study enough for the test, so studying would have been  # 1 on my list, but you were advised that from day one, right?

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