Study Skills For Exam Preparation

May 28, 2012   

There are three main steps that you can take to ensure that you have studied effectively for your tests and exam:

Prepare a study checklist Make summary sheets *Do practice tests8

Preparing a Study Checklist

  • Look through notes, textbooks, course outline.
  • Prepare a list of major topics covered.
  • Divide each heading into sub-topics:

Example: Major topic: Types of exam questions Sub-topics:

  1. Objective exam questions: Multiple Choice, Fill-in-blanks, Matching.
  2. Subjective exam questions: Essays, Short-answer, Open-book.

Making Summary Sheets

-Look at each sub-topic from your checklist. -Write down a key word or phrase that will help you remember the entire concept. -Use question form where possible E.g., “What are the three types of objective questions?” -Include definitions, vocabulary, calculations, points emphasized in class on your sheets. -Do this for each sub-topic. -These will serve as your study notes!

How to Use Summary Sheets

  • Ask yourself exam questions you have prepared ALOUD.
  • Rehearsing is the fastest way to learn.
  • Reading over and over is the slowest way to practice the exam.
  • Practice Tests


  1. Increases number of questions on exam that will be familiar to you.
  2. You will be giving your study sessions a focus so you will be less likely to waste time.
  3. Best preparation for an exam is to practice exactly what you will be doing when you write it.
  4. Eliminates stress of exam because the practice will make it seem ‘old hat’ to you.

How to set one up

  • Use questions from old exam and textbook reviews.
  • The internet and senior students are perfect source.

Types of Exam Questions

Objective Exam

-More detail oriented. -Recognition based. -Multiple choice. -True/False. -Matching Questions.

Subjective Exam

-Sometimes easier because partial marks are rewarded. -Require a broader understanding of material. -Essays. -Short-answer questions. -Take-home / Open-book exam -Performance expectations are higher.

Objective Exam Questions

** Multiple Choice Questions**

  • Try to answer before looking at options;If you can’t, then look at ALL options before answering.
  • Answer the questions you know first.
  • Your first instinct is usually correct.
  • Take questions at face value – tricks are rare!
  • Watch out for double negatives (e.g. “Not studying for exams doesn’t help”)
  • Cross out both negatives and then answer (e.g., “Studying for exams helps”)
  • Stuck? Rephrase question in your own words.
  • Look for answers in other exam questions but, don’t waste time.
  • Cross out answers you know are incorrect.
  • Never leave a question unanswered.
  • Guess! If two answers are similar, choose one of them. If two answers have similar words, choose one of them. If two answers have opposite meanings, choose one of them.
  • Choose the longest answer; True-False Questions.
  • Don’t spend too much time on any one question.
  • Look for qualifiers in questions, E.g., most, sometimes, rarely. They are always true.
  • Questions that contain “always” or “never” are usually false.

Other Objective Exam Questions


  • Eliminate options that do not result in grammatically correct sentences.
  • Look for cue words (eg., an, as, that, the, these)
  • Make sure the answer makes conceptual sense too.


  • Determine whether any option could be used more than once.
  • Do all match-ups you are sure of first.

Subjective Exam Questions

Essay Questions

  • Read the entire exam first.
  • Make your exam easy to read; This puts the marker in a positive frame of mind.
  • Read directions carefully.
  • Plan your answer; Make a mini outline – if you run out of time, this could provide partial marks.
  • Get right to the point; Be concise, clear, compact. It is better to know a little and present it well, than to know a lot and present it poorly.
  • Keep to the point.
  • Don’t forget to include the basics.
  • Use examples or diagrams to show you understand.
  • Keep your eye on the time – don’t spend too much time on one question.
  • Always write SOMETHING – even if you don’t know anything.
  • Use all of the allotted time – it’s not a race!
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread.
  • If exam time runs out, don’t be afraid to use point form to finish.


  • Relax!
  • Realize that you won’t know ALL of the answers.
  • Accept yourself & what you know.
  • Read through the entire exam.
  • Plan your time well.
  • Answer the questions you know first.
  • Answer the questions that are worth the most, second.
  • Mark up the exam & use scrap paper to guide your thinking.

Reading Directions

Analyze = examine in detail; make judgments.

Compare = Show similarities and differences.

Contrast = Show differences.

Define = Explain meaning in short answer.

Describe = tell all you know; use details.

Discuss = write everything you know in logical progression.

Evaluate = examine positive and negative aspects; draw a conclusion.

Illustrate = use examples and details.

Justify = give reasons to support a proposition.

Outline = Using main ideas, give an overview.

Prove = use facts and evidence to support a position.

Summarize = give main ideas in a short answer.

I wish all of you the best in your exam preparation

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