College 101: The First Exam

The first three weeks of a semester in college go by, and the class material doesn’t seem too difficult. And then at the end of class one Monday morning, your professor just mentions that the first exam is Wednesday. The immediate thought that comes to your mind is “great, no homework for the week!” On Tuesday, about 8:00pm, you decided to quickly look at the study guide your professor has provided and realize that you really don’t know how to do the listed problems, or understand the multiple choice concepts. So what do you do? You decide to stay up all night, eat junk food, and try to memorize as many things as possible.

The next Monday, you receive your test back, and needless to say, it wasn’t the grade that you hoped for. In fact, it was about the furthest thing from what you would consider a suitable grade. So what should you do? How do you learn to study better for the next test? Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are a few techniques that I’ve found to be quite helpful.

  1. Know your test date in advance. As soon as you receive your syllabus for a class, go ahead and write in your test dates in your planner. One of the biggest keys to success in college is allowing yourself enough time to study for an exam.
  2. Read the chapter summaries. Understanding where to start studying for a test can be extremely overwhelming. What I would recommend is start with the chapter summary in the back of your text book. As you see that you understand the information in the summary, branch out to class notes/slides to learn more detailed information.
  3. Make flash cards for definitions. So many multiple choice questions are based off of textbook definitions (normally bolded words). By making flashcards for those terms, you’re likely to improve the multiple choice portion of your grade. In addition, understanding key phrases will help you remember small details that could be the difference between an A- and A letter grade.
  4. Work problems on a white board. As helpful as it is to read notes and the text book, there is something about writing things down. Writing problems down, or just confusing concepts, on a white board could be the extra studying tip you need to remember problems that have multiple steps.
  5. Exercise. While it is important to study at college, you have to be balanced. Sitting all day in the library working isn’t healthy. Take time to exercise in the Dow, DeVos, or outside. You’ll be amazed at how it helps your ability to focus and learn!
  6. Get a good night’s rest. Never pull an all-nighter… just don’t do it!! You’ll regret it, and your test score won’t be any higher.
  7. Eat a healthy breakfast before a test. Start your day off right with a good breakfast. Make sure to get all the nutrients that you need so you can focus and do your best during the test.
Studying for College Exams
Studying for College Exams

Hopefully some of these tips will help y’all as you either take your first college exam, or prepare to start college next year. It is true, college tests are harder than high school tests, but they are not impossible.

That’s all for now, but make sure that if you haven’t already followed me on Twitter to do so! @hopechelsea15

Published by Chelsea Barfield

Hello! My name is Chelsea Barfield and I am from Dallas, Texas. I am a fifth year senior at Hope studying Accounting, Management, and Leadership. While at Hope, I have been involved in several different activities and groups including: Relay for Life, Dance Marathon, Student Orientation, Business Club, Student Consulting, Hope College Admissions, and Campus Ministries. In my spare time, I enjoy photography, reading, coffee dates, spending time with friends, and playing tennis. I look forward to sharing my Hope College experience with you! Go Hope!

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