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Exam Expectations

At this time of year every fall, academic status and pending grades get real for first-year students. Whether you began college with credits from AP exams or dual enrollment or not, your GPA started from scratch. You may not have started classes with a concrete set of goals for the first semester of college, but you probably had an idea of whether or not you would do well. Well, this is the point at which you either feel good about where you stand academically . . . . or you don’t.

There are lessons to learn about how to be a good student AND enjoy your college experience. There is a misconception that students who have fun in college aren’t the same ones who do well academically. That’s just not true. There are plenty of students on the Dean’s list who are having a good great time. They're able to do it because they are intention and plan.

Now that the semester is almost over, it’s time to create an exam study strategy. Basically, plan how you will prepare for each of your finals. While the specifics may vary from course to course – you’d study for world history in a much different way than you would for calculus – the general approach is the same. Here are some pointers to get you started.

1. Confirm the date and time of your final. This is important whether you are taking an electronic exam that has a window/deadline or you’ll be in a room on campus making it happen. I have seen more than one student miss their final because they didn’t know this information. You want to be in the right place at the right time to either take or submit your work.

2. Know what material will be covered on your exam or included in your project/paper. Find out whether it’s cumulative situation that will include everything that was taught this semester or only the material since the last exam. This will help you determine what you need for the next tip.

3. Create a study guide (or project outline). Use your syllabus and course notes to create a study guide, even if your instructor provides one. Start with each of the major topics and then fill it in with important concepts, formulas, people, dates, etc. for each. Think up some potential questions your instructor might ask based on the large concepts that were covered.

No matter what type of final you’re taking for what subject, these are sure-fire ways to get you started on the road to exam success. There is one caveat . . . if you’ve not attended class regularly and completed all the previous assignments and quizzes, you may find it more challenging to feel adequately prepared. Successfully completing your exam and achieving your goal grade require consistency. However, if you commit to genuinely doing all you can between now and your final, you may be able to make some progress toward a good grade.

If you like what you read, please join our email list and you’ll receive a study guide template later this week.


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