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Studying For and Writing E xams

Studying For and Writing E xams

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Studying For and Writing E xams

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  1. Studying For and Writing Exams

  2. Setting Yourself Up for Success • Seeing the Forest and the Trees • Study Guides • Memorization Techniques • Activities to Promote Synthesis

  3. Preparing To Study The best way to prepare for exams is to work steadily throughout term. Get as much information as you can from your professor or your ta about the format, length, and requirements of the exam. Organize all of your course materials. Make an inventory of all of the materials that you need to look at. Make a study schedule. Start as early as you can and space study sessions over as long a period as possible: “the brain, when it revisits material at a later time, has to relearn some of what it has absorbed before adding new stuff – and that process is self-reinforcing. Forgetting is the friend of learning.”

  4. Cutting Edge Studying and Learning Techniques • Decide what you will do it each day. Mix content. Alternate one hour of study for one course with one hour for another, if possible. This is like athletes cross-training: “the brain picks up deeper patterns.” • Alternate study environments: “the brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and background sensations. Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material may give that info more neural scaffolding…and thus slow down forgetting.”

  5. Cutting Edge Studying and Learning Techniques 3. Study BOTH alone and with others. Think about study groups. 4. Realize that testing is about learning as well as about assessment. Test yourself often: “the process of retrieving an idea…seems to fundamentally alter the way the info/idea is subsequently stored, making it far more accessible in the future.” Answering practise questions is a good way to study.

  6. Start off by Looking for both the Forest and the Trees • Your goal is to understand the larger goals and themes of the course (the forest) as well as the facts, events, and details of the topic (the trees). • The first way to survey the forestis to RE- READ THE SYLLABUS.

  7. Create a Study Guide Step 1 Look for Themes and Connections: Every syllabus starts off by giving a short overview or summary of what the course is about. Read over that carefully, noticing the major themes or topics of the course. English: Truth, Lies, Storytelling, the Relationship of all these Biology: Biodiversity, Evolution Psychology: The Multi-Faceted Self, the Ideal Self and Alter- Egos, Self-A/=-ctualization Note the Major Themes or Topics Down as the Main Categories of Your Study Guide.

  8. Create a Study Guide Step 2: Now, look for how the major themes/topics are subdivided. Skim through rest of the syllabus, noting how the course is divided up by looking at lecture names etc. Step 3: Read through lecture notes, reading notes and note any further sub-divisions.

  9. Create a Study Guide Step 4: Make a Course Tree, like a Family Tree, starting with major themes, and working downwards, through sub- topics, smaller divisions, down to the details of the course. This overview of the course shows you where bit of knowledge/info fits in the grand scheme. This will be helpful for essay questions and short answer/mctones. Step 5: For each heading, large or small, allot a certain space, a page or two, to add information. Go over all your notes and readings again, adding information under the headings. You have worked down from the forest to the trees, big picture to details.

  10. The Study Guide Making the Study Guide is studying in Itself. Reading and writing allow you stay active, and you will absorb information. Carry the Study Guide around and read it over regularly. For Language Courses, or fore Math Courses and other problem-solving courses, making a study guide may be a useful first steop. But for these kinds of course, practise is the best way to study. Redo all your assignments, practise sets, homework etc. Use your textbook and the activities it provides to continue to practise. The best kind of studying is ACTIVE

  11. Learning the Details When you make a Study Guide, you work down from the big themes/topics towards the sub-topics, and smaller points to the details. The next step may be learning the details, but research shows that it is much easier to learn details when they are learned in context, not just as a series of random details. So, making the study guide first will be the first step to memorizing the details. Just make sure to give yourself time to learn the detailsor practise the exercises.

  12. Memorization Techniques Flashcards Timelines Charts Picture/Symbol associations etc Carry these around with you to review regularly Once you have studied details and feel some confidence about your knowledge of them begin to mix up the content, mixing content from different themes up together. This will help you to remember better.

  13. Study Guide, Details, Synthesis After having worked down from big picture to details, you may have to spend some time, learning the details. The next step is starting to put it all back together again, or move from details back up to the big picture,

  14. Activities that Promote Synthesis Try to guess the questions. What have been the most important themes? What topics could be combined into a question? Try pretending to explain a concept, orally or in written form, to a peer who is not taking the course. This is self-testing. Tape your explanations and evaluate the answers. Give the answers a grade and try to pinpoint what would have made the explanation better.

  15. Activities to Promote Synthesis Use any resources your text-book has. (Practise tests, mct questions, etc) Most important activity: Write some questions and then write the answers. This is a way of testing yourself and is very helpful. Its helps you learn the content but it also helps you practise expressing that content clearly.

  16. Managing Exam anxiety • Eat, sleep, and exercise • Don’t let yourself get drawn into a stress feeding frenzy. • Explore relaxation techniques for anxiety such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

  17. Summary of Exam Prep Get organized Make a study guide Memorize/learn details or Practise/Do Problems Do activities that promote the synthesis of knowledge

  18. Writing Exams • Taking Care of the Basics • Thinking Strategically • Deciphering and Writing Multiple Choice Questions • Deciphering and Writing Essay Questions

  19. Take Care of the Basics Know where and when your exams are being held. Get there early! Come prepared with extra pens, pencils, calculators, rulers. Do not bring notes and books as you will likely be required to leave them at the door of the exam room. Same deal with coats, phones, purses, etc. Know the name of your tutorial leader so that your exam goes to him or her.

  20. Don’t Just Dive into an Exam – Strategize Take Ten Minutes at the Beginning to Organize Yourself. Read through all of the directions carefully. How many questions do you need to answer? Do some arithmetic and figure out much time to allot to each question. Beside each question, write start at….. finish at….. Leave yourself ten minutes at the end to double check your work. If you are worried about forgetting anything, as soon as you can, jot down the key words, concepts, formulas, equations, etc. that you are worried about. Then, begin.

  21. Managing Your Time When deciding how much time to allot each section or question, consider how many sections or questions you have, how much each is worth, and how long the exam is. Example: 3hr exam: made up of -25 MCQs (25 marks) 10 SA (50 marks) 1 essay (25 marks)

  22. Managing Your Time You might think to divide your 3 hours into 3: 1 hour for each section. But, the SA section is worth twice what the others are, so it makes sense to give it the most time. So: 10 minutes at beginning to organize, 70 minutes for SA 45 minutes for MCQs 45 minutes for MCQs 10 minutes at end to review.

  23. Multiple Choice Questions One answer is better than the rest: It answers the question, even if in a convoluted way.

  24. Multiple Choice Questions Be Methodical Cover the answers and read the questions first. Try to answer the question without looking at the answers. Read each response one at a time. Mark answers that you know are wrong or think are right. If you’re really not sure, mark it and leave it until later . . . When you have finished the ones you know, come back and guess.

  25. Example Stem: In the game of Monopoly: Boardwalk is…. Turn it into a question: In the game of Monopoly, what is Boardwalk? Answer questions and jot it down: blue, the most expensive property, close to Go.

  26. Example: answers × √ Is the least expensive property and is coloured blue ×

  27. Answer 2 √ × b. Is the most expensive property and is coloured green. ×

  28. Answer 3 c. Is neither the least expensive property nor green. -make this negative answer positive (easier to understand) √ √ c. Is the most expensive property and blue. √

  29. Answer 4 × √ d. Is both red and the most expensive property. × So: The answer is c: In the game of Monopoly, Boardwalk is neither the least expensive property nor green.

  30. Be Careful of Absolute Terms Absolute terms tend to make the answer wrong; qualifying terms tend to make the answer right. In determining whether a patient has a cold or a flu, nurses should keep in mind that: a) Colds always come on more gradually than does the flu. b) Colds never include a fever. c) The flu often involves high fever. d) The flu can lead to complications in the young and the elderly. (Eliminate c and d as they contain absolutes)

  31. Essay and Short Answer Exam Steps Steps 1. Understand and underline key words in question 2. Brainstorm 3. Plan your answer 4. Write your answer 5. Review your work

  32. The Key: Answer the question that is asked, not the question you want to answer.

  33. Underline and Understand the Verbs in your Questions 1.Identify-type verbs: Identify, Define, Describe, Review, List, Summarize Ask you to provide a detailed description, saying what something or someone is, providing a definition, description and list of most important points 2.Explain-type verbs: Explain, Account for, Analyze, Discuss, Trace, or Outline Ask you to say why, how, or in what order a set of events occur. Account for also asks you to give reasons for something. 3.Compare-type verbs: Compare, Contrast, Distinguish between Ask you to identify and discuss the thesimilarities and differences; to investigate the relationship between two things etc.

  34. Underline and Understand the Verbs in your questions 4.Argue type verbs: Argue, Agree, Disagree, Debate, Defend, Justify, Prove Ask you to take a position and defend it considering how someone who disagreed might argue with you 5.Assess-type verbs: Assess, Criticize, Evaluate, Interpret Ask you to judge: to make an assessment based on criteria and give reasons for the judgement, assessment or evaluation

  35. Underline Key Words (Verbs and Nouns) in Question Do women experience terror, both as victims and perpetrators, in the same way and to the same extent men do? Discuss with relation to at least two (2) modules.

  36. Brainstorm on paper Scribble notes on the top of the page. •DIFFERENT—Crimes against women: rape, “honour” etc. / different epochs = different roles & reactions •SAME—transhistorical? Be careful… psychology of fear and terror, panic / violence •Victims– Bosnia, witches (Salem / Europe) •Perpetrators—Chechnyans, Ulrike Meinhof

  37. Plan Your Answer Write a scratch outline with main points and examples. For an essay question, include a thesis This will help keep you focused and help to ensure that you don’t forget points that you want to make.

  38. In Your Answer, Make Sure To: •Answer exactly what was asked. If asked to identify and evaluate, do that; don’t compare and contrast. This is key to doing well on short answer and essay questions. Focus on demonstrating your knowledge of the course – not lots of outside info. The better grasp you have of course content, the better the answer.

  39. In Your Answer Make Sure To: –GIVE EXAMPLES!!!!! Be as clear as possible given time constraints. Begin paragraphs with clear topic sentences.

  40. Prof Pet Peeve… Avoid generalizations. Be specific. For example: Not “people” but….workers or aristocrats If you make a broad, big statement, give an example, if you can.

  41. Prof Pet Peeve… Know facts. But AVOID facts if you are not sure. Being wrong is a big error “Hitler came into power in 1903” sinks it. Go around it if unsure: “When Hitler came to power…”

  42. Don’t run! Take the time to review

  43. Good Luck! Great online resources for support: http://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/resources/examprep.php These slides will be posted here: http://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/workshops.php