Easy Study Skills for Exams
Study skills: do you start reading at one end of your library and try to read through to the other end?
Of course not. So you already know one effective approach. Be selective! We can build on that now.
More Study Skills – what not to study
Your lecturer tells you to read “War and Peace”. If you have study skills you won’t! Even with perfect memory – how much of the book can you cover in an exam essay that takes 40 minutes to write?
Look through the library for abridged versions of your books, or commentaries… Now you’re using your study skills.
Buy your textbooks 2nd hand. Why do you think they are in perfect condition? Because the last students hardly opened them!
Why should you buy books that the last student didn’t read? Now you’re thinking! Now you’re using study skills.
One benefit of attending classes is that you get a skeleton outline to apply your study skills. The skeleton will be complete for the sake of completeness. But only some parts matter to your study skills.
Study yourself – you’re interesting aren’t you?
Each day write down at what time of day you didn’t mind using your study skills, and could really get down to work. Write down the times when you hated to study. I study best early in the morning. You might study best late at night.
Do you work best in a totally silent room, or with background music?
Do you work better if you are petting the dog or does it interfere with your study skills?
Use your spying study skills
Find past exam papers in the library. Put them in order by date, then go through the earliest one, and write down the subjects in a column at the left of your page. Put the date at the top of the second column and a tick for each subject. Now put the date of the next paper and a tick opposite each subject that is repeated, and write in any new subjects.
Do the same for all the years that you have. Why is the date important? Look at your table. If a subject appeared every year from the left, then suddenly stopped appearing it probably means that the examiner changed. Study all the subjects that appear every year first. Then study those that appear four years out of five… you get the idea.
Important study skills – Make a calendar
Plan in detail which subjects you’ll study on which days until the exam.
Don’t be too ambitious. You already know that at some times of the day you can’t use your study skills. You know that you won’t want to study on your birthday or Christmas day or… Just be realistic. A calendar that gives you over a thousand hours of study isn’t as good as one that gives you 400 hours that you can stick to.
Become an expert
An expert knows more and more about less and less.
You’ve used your study skills to cut out big chunks of your syllabus. Use the time you save to learn more about the parts you’ve left than the examiner knows. Use the internet to search for exciting snippets of information about your shortened syllabus.
Perhaps your examiner doesn’t know the exact day of the week on which an important bit of history happened. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what you read about it, but write down your best guess. The examiner will be impressed, because he doesn’t know that you got it wrong!
Study skills for the day of the exam
Everyone will tell you that if you don’t know it, it is too late to learn. They are wrong! They are talking about long-term memory. You will be using short-term memory.
As you are sitting outside the exam room study your formulae, or dates, or anything else that you have difficulty remembering. Whenever the examiner says that you can start writing, write down all these things on scrap paper. You have managed to remember them for ten minutes. You can now forget them until you need them again, which may be never.
Study skills in the exam
“That isn’t allowed!” you exclaim. It definitely is allowed. If you have a multiple choice paper just miss every question that you don’t know. There is usually another related question somewhere. When you see it, you will work out the answer to the question that you didn’t know. That is study isn’t it?