UC Davis Finals Week Studying Tips

We want you all to ace your final exams, so Tandem Properties is offering their residents yummy breakfasts to get their exam days off to a great start. (Check with your apartment building’s management for details.)

It’s chilly outside, but if you’re not a desk studier, there are plenty of other options for places to crack the books. Many Tandem properties have lounges, work-out rooms, pools, gardens, and other non-traditional spots for mastering those last few formulas.

If you’re having trouble getting your head in the game, here are some suggestions from our friends at academictips.org and College of DuPage:

    • Stick to a routine, efficient study schedule
    • Study in a quiet environment
    • For a study break, do something different from what you’ve been doing (e.g., walk around if you’ve been sitting), and in a different area
    • Avoid daydreaming by asking yourself questions about the material as you study it
    • Keep in mind that you want to be an active learner, not a passive one. The more you use and manipulate the information, the better you will understand it. Using and manipulating information in as many ways as possible also maximizes your ability to access your memory.
    • Do not wait until the night before an exam to study! Of course, you should be regularly reviewing your notes, but the preparation still takes time.
    • If your instructor hasn’t explained to you how he or she designs exams, ask. this is a perfectly legitimate concern. However, keep in mind that an instructor has the right to design exams in whatever fashion he or she sees fit, and in most cases you have no business asking for changes in that design. You need to learn to handle all testing styles–including the dreaded essay exam!
    • A good first step in preparation is to read through your notes a couple of times.
    • Highlight major topics and subtopics, with the goal of generating an outline of your notes. Even if you take your notes in outline form, this is a good practice. Major topics often extend through more than one day’s lecture, and it is easy to lose track of the overall picture from day to day.
    • With a second color, highlight all vocabulary terms.
    • Outline the entire set of notes. When you study a large body of information, you should study from concept to detail, not the other way around. It will, in fact, be much easier to learn the details if you take the time to learn the concept and theory first. The least efficient approach to studying is to attempt to memorize your notes from beginning to end. It’s not the words which are important–it’s the ideas.
    • Consider ways of dealing with the information other than those used in class. the more ways you can manipulate and experience the material you are trying to learn, the more secure your understanding and memory will be.
    • Make charts, diagrams and graphs.
    • Make lists.
    • If the subject matter includes structures, practice drawing those structures. Remember that a drawing is useless unless the important structures are labeled.
    • There are almost always types of information which you will have to memorize (eg. vocabulary). No one has ever invented a better device for memorizing than flash cards.
    • One of the most universally effective ways to polish off your study activities is to prepare a self test.
    • Challenge yourself as severely as you can.
    • As you are studying, keep a running collection of “exam questions.” If you seriously attempt to write difficult and meaningful questions, by the time you finish you will have created a formidable exam. When you begin to feel you’re ready for your instructor’s exam, take out your questions and see if you can answer them. If you can’t, you may need to go back and reinforce some of the things your are trying to learn.
    • Never, ever pull an “All-Nighter” on the night before an exam. This is a “freshman trick,” meaning that good students learn very quickly that it is futile. What you may gain from extra study time won’t compensate for the loss of alertness and ability to concentrate due to lack of sleep.

Dartmouth has some great advice, too.

Break a leg, everyone!