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Study Strategies

​​​​​​​​​Flash Cards: 

When creating flashcards, try to avoid simply having a term on one side of the note card and the definition on the other side. Instead, try to come up with a question that your professor might ask on a quiz or an exam. Write the question on one side of the card and the definition on the back.

It is also important to include at least one example on the back side of your cards because professors usually ask for more than the definition. Examples show your instructor that you have the ability to apply concepts, not simply memorize them. This strategy can be useful for subjective or objective exams. By using flashcards to prepare for subjective exams, you can provide examples to back up the points in your essay; examples show the professo​r that you understand the material. On objective exams the professor is likely to give you an example of a term so you have to apply the concept to get the correct answer.  

​Mind Mapping: 

Mind mapping is the process of connecting a series of related ideas to a main concept. Mapping can be a very useful review technique, especially for visual learners, because it allows you to see how the material fits together. An additional benefit of creating a mind map is that it forces you to use critical thinking skills to make connections.

How Is Mind Mapping Done?​

  1. Select your main topic/heading and draw a circle or a square around it in the middle of the page.
  2. Create a first layer by writing down information (in a different color) around the topic/heading and connect it with lines or arrows.
  3. Create additional layers that are connected to the related thoughts in the prior layer.
  4. Try to connect the concepts with each “surrounding” point to show their relationships.
  5. Continue to make edits and revisions to your mind map.

Note: Doing a map of course content can help you identify the most important concepts and allow you to see the ways in which they relate. It may also help you to see your weak areas and focus your studying accordingly.

Using Your Notes & Readings to Anticipate Test Questions: 

You should never disregard the importance of taking good notes and keeping up with the readings in your classes. Both are imperative because your notes and readings are the basis for evaluation. To the best of your ability, you want to put yourself in your professor’s shoes by narrowing down the possible questions that might be asked on a quiz/exam. Some strategies you may want to consider include:

  • Meeting with your professor: There isn’t a better academic resource on campus because your professor is the author of the quizzes and exams. Make an effort to see your professor throughout the semester and have him/her take a look at your work (notes, flashcards, etc.). Doing so can help your professor see if your class notes are appropriate and if you are on the right track with your review techniques. Going to office hours also shows that you have a genuine interest in the course.
  • Looking at previous exams and quizzes for questioning patterns: Always hold on to your old quizzes/exams and take a look at the questions to see if you can find the corresponding material in your textbook and notes. Using this review technique may give you an idea of the kinds of questions the professor may put on future quizzes/exams.
  • Going through your notes and creating flashcards: As mentioned above, this strategy will help you play the role of the professor. Moreover, the process of creating your cards (i.e., rewriting the material) will help to reinforce what you have learned. Make sure to put “terms” in the form of questions that your professor might ask on quizzes/exams.
  • Looking at the chapter overviews, chapter headings, chapter summaries, chapter questions, points to know, etc. prior to reading the material: Go over these first, before reading the chapter. This strategy will give you a general idea of the major points of the chapter prior. Remember: If the author did not feel that it was important to provide these chapter summaries, questions, etc., he/she would not have put that information in the textbook. 
  • Creating question notes: With this strategy you play the role of the professor by generating quiz/exam questions from your notes and reading assignments. Split a sheet of paper in half. Write the questions down in the left column, and write the answers in the other column. Now you have an instant review sheet.