You are hereHow to improve final exam scores
How to improve final exam scores
As students at the University of Colorado prepare to close out a long semester of tests, homework and study-induced headaches, their workloads are becoming heavier. This makes finding a quiet place to study difficult for many students this time of year. It also means that procrastinators will inevitably submit to cramming a couple of days, or even hours before their exams. With finals right around the corner, they may want to heed the advice of some local experts.
CU professors Alice Healey and Lyle Bourne have studied the cognitive
effects of various study habits for more than five years, and they say that efficient
studying is the product of good preparation. "The three main things that come out of our research are: use tests whenever possible, space the material whenever you can do that, and engage desirable processes by making the task difficult," Bourne said.
They encourage students to start studying early, rather than waiting until the last minute. "You could cram all of your studying into one short interval," Healey said.
"That's not good. It would be better to space it out. Study over several days, over several sessions, and you will learn better."
Healey also stated the importance of testing oneself on pertinent material before taking an exam. "Testing actually helps you learn. Give yourself some tests. Allow yourself to be tested, because that is a way to promote or encourage learning."
A good way to test prepare for an exam is to follow the three R's; read, recite, and review.
"You read first, then you test; you recite it. You are testing yourself on the material. Then you go back and review it," Bourne said. "It validated principles that we have known for some time."
Studying is done best when it is challenging for the student to learn the material. Healey and Bourne conducted a study that examined this principle. They studied the relationship between translation direction, and their results maintained that while it is easier for students to identify an English translation when given a foreign word, they will perform better on tests when they are forced to study by identifying the foreign translation of a word spoken in English. "Forcing yourself to do things the hard way is actually going to help you much more than studying the easy way," she said.
"You're going to do better in the end when you study the hard way. You are going to do better when you are tested."
When considering places to study, Healey suggests trying a variety of settings. "Vary where you study," she said. Each place, however, should offer a noise-free environment in order to limit distractions.
"Studying at a coffee shop is good for social studying, but you will focus better if you study in quiet," she said.
Follow these tips, and you may improve your readiness for final exams in December. That does mean, however, that you should plan on hitting the books soon.