Get Organized

  1. Make a study plan: Write your exam schedule on a sheet of paper and identify study times, then work backward from the exam dates so you know how much time you will have for each class. You will also want to consider the difficulty of the class, the weight of the exam (the percentage of the total grade), your current grade, how difficult the course is for you, and how well you want to do in each class.

  2. Prepare study materials: For each class, gather the relevant study materials, tools and equipment. For example, you'll need your course outline, class notes and your text or lab manual. If you have study guides, lab exams and midterms, gather those as well. Make sure you have the correct answers for any exams.

  3. Make a list: Make a list of the topics you've covered during the term or the year. This list of topics will become your Table of Contents. (If you number each page of your notes sequentially, you'll know exactly where to find each topic.) While you're reviewing your notes to generate this list, estimate your current level of knowledge of this topic, on a scale from 1-10 and jot this number in pencil beside the topic heading.

  4. Create study packages: Create study material packages for each module of your class. When preparing study materials, change it up if you can and use a variety of techniques such as queue cards, diagrams (e.g., mind maps), create your own practice questions, create tables to show the similarities and differences between concepts, etc.

  5. Rate your knowledge: Examine the course objectives and determine the distribution of marks. Are some topics more important than others? Beside each topic in your Table of Contents, jot your estimate of the importance of this topic for the exam. (For example, if your professor has told you that your final exam will emphasize the last half of the term, you will want to be certain that you understand that last half before reviewing other topics.) You might also want to rate the difficulty of each topic.

  6. Prioritize: Now review your Table of Contents and your estimates of:
    1. Your current level of knowledge
    2. The importance of the topic
    3. The level of difficulty of each topic
    Based on these estimates, decide which topics to study first and which will take the longest. Once you have identified the most important and difficult topics, review your exam schedule to see how much time is available for this exam and assign a block of time for each topic.