Nov. 17, 2014 | Volume XXII, Issue 14

Examination Preparation: What to do before your exams

Published: November 17th, 2008

Category: Students

exam preparation The end of the semester is quickly approaching along with the beginning of the busy holiday season. Therefore, it is important to manage your time wisely and have a plan in place in order to prepare sufficiently for your upcoming examination period. In creating your plan, you may wish to focus on three different categories: before the exam, during the exam and after the exam. This week’s installment of exam preparation will focus on before the exam.

At this point in time, you should be organizing and reviewing the outlines you have created for all of your classes. At the same time, if your professor provides any advice or instructions as to how to prepare for his or her exam, follow those instructions.

Each professor is different in how they teach and what they expect from their students. If you are being taught by Professor A, then you may not study or prepare for Professor B’s exam in the same way, as Professor B may have different expectations and vice versa.

Pay attention to how your professor teaches and what they stress in class as this will assist you in your preparation and focus for that class. If your professor spent several days or even a week or so on a topic, know that topic because it will likely be on the exam.

Also, know the kind of exams your professor usually gives. Make copies of exams on file (you may find copies of old exams from various professors with JMBA) and use these exams to study and practice taking the examination. However, do not try to write the answer to an exam question too early in the process as this may provoke anxiety. Instead, work through the parts of the question and problems which refer to the portion of the course material you have already studied.

Now, in terms of studying, as mentioned above, you should be reviewing your course outlines by now. When you start studying from your outline, you should be reading the entire document (no matter how long). As your examination draws closer, you want to make your outline shorter.

As a first step, you may want to develop a list of topics/headers. Look at how your course syllabus is organized, which will leave you with the organizational concepts that your professor has covered and most likely finds to be the most pertinent for the course. Once you have your topics, remove case references and hypotheticals from your outline.

In doing so, you will have created a “skeletal outline.” This does not mean you will not need the information you have removed from your extensive outline; instead, you should be able to recall this “check-list” of important case law, rules of law, policies and basic concepts by simply looking at the general topics. These details or “checklist” of the concepts will assist you when it is time for you to take the actual examination.

In addition to the preparation details above, keep in mind the following details over the next few weeks as you prepare for the end of the semester:

  • Set a study schedule, but remember to schedule breaks as needed.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: Not eating when you should or not eating well can affect your concentration and your overall health. This is not conducive for productive study sessions.
  • Exercise, socialize and participate in your regular leisure activities. This will help alleviate the stress and anxiety of finals, both before and during.
  • Get plenty of sleep. This cannot be emphasized enough. Lack of sleep hinders your alertness and the ability for you to concentrate and to recall information. Thus, if you think studying all night is going to help you ingest more information, re-evaluate this plan. Sleep allows for your body and mind to rest and repair itself so that you are prepared to continue studying and increase your abilities to store and recall information.

Next week’s installment of “Examination Preparation” will focus on your plan during the exam. Keep in mind that preparing for the examination period is like a marathon; you must train and pace yourself for the ultimate race. As long as you prepare for it adequately, you will have enough energy to complete the process and do so successfully.

For additional information on exam preparation or any questions about coping with stress and time management that will assist you in this upcoming examination period, contact Assistant Dean of Students Kari Mattox at mattoxk@law.ufl.edu.

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