Well, it’s exam time again. Your notes are organised, the reading’s done, and now you’ve got to study for the exam. Dreading the ordeal? Here’s a trick good students use to get ready: think like an instructor instead of a student.

Preparing and answering practice questions will help you focus on what’s important and boost your confidence. Follow these three steps to be ready:

Step 1

Identify the most significant parts of the course. Not everything is equally important. Begin with the most important areas.

Does the course syllabus or outline include goals for the course? There’s your first clue. Review them to remember what your instructor thinks is crucial. Look at the course outline and think about what actually went on.

Now turn to your notes. If you’ve been faithfully making notes in lectures, the number of pages on each topic will give you a hint about the importance of each area.

Your last crucial source for identification of key points is your textbook, or other assigned readings. Don’t read them again now! Your purpose in this step is to develop a rough map of the territory, not to explore all the highways and byways. Scan the titles and chapter heads to remind you of some of the most significant areas.

Step 2

Identify the kinds of questions that will be asked. There are several ways to identify the kinds of questions you’ll find. Ask your instructor — the most reliable source for what kind of questions are and are not on the exam. Often the subject will give you a clue as to the type of questions you’ll encounter. You’re less likely to find essay questions on a math test than on a lit final.

If you’ve taken an exam from this instructor before, review it. Were the questions multiple-choice? Short answers? Analytical essays? Chances are the teacher’s style won’t have changed a lot. Check with the library or the student society to find out if there is a file of old an exam available. Don’t search for answers — just for questions. Don’t try to predict which of the old questions will be asked. That’s usually a time-waster, since most instructors change their exams. Instead, try to get a feel for the way questions are asked.

But don’t spend too long on step two. To be confident answering the kinds of questions you’ll be facing, the real confidence-booster is writing some yourself.

Step 3

Develop practice questions and answers.

Start with the easy ones — short answer questions. Begin with the most important section of the course. Look through that section of your notes, and course readings. If you find headings like ‘Three reasons…’ or ‘Five factors…’ count yourself lucky.

Such types of questions are usually asked. So follow these tips to make your preparation easier.

Do away with exam anxiety

Exam anxiety can be caused by a number of factors. Generally, students feel very anxious either because they are not well prepared for the exam or they are well prepared but they are so ‘over-motivated’ that they feel anxious and under stress.

For those of you who suffer from extreme exam anxiety, the following outlines a few successful strategies that might be employed so that you can more readily enjoy your exams:

• Be thoroughly prepared for your exams.

• Be well informed about the time, location, format and types of exams that you

have to sit.

• Design and commence a revision programme.

• If your anxiety stems from the expectations of others such as family members, discuss your fears with them so that they can understand your situation.

• Practice relaxation and stress management techniques.