Academic Coaching Strategies for Exams

Plan your review strategy, and study schedule, well in advance. Assuming you do this, your exam review strategy might look like this:

1. Overview your strong points, and areas where there are knowledge gaps. Accept that it is
never possible to know everything. Think more about how to make use of what you do know.

2. Rehearse. Assuming you have reviewed material throughout the trimester (the sooner, and
more frequent, the better) you can begin to study for your exam by reviewing again.
Then space out additional review periods further and further apart. The more often you
rehearse, the better it will withstand the test of time.

3. Be efficient – The best review session is one which leads you to remember the most after
spending the least possible amount of time. So;

Review as soon as possible following your initial learning. Study this again one day later…two day’s later… Study a third time one week later. Study a fourth time two weeks later… one month later (just in time for exams). This does not have to take a lot of time. Why does this work? You forget more slowly, and remember longer, after each review. Also, your brain processes information when it is slightly confused, or is on the verge of forgetting. In time, you will know how this process works for you and adapt the time period between reviews. If you find you do not remember enough, start your review sooner. If you remember too much (remember, you want the brain to be challenged) you can review later (ex. 2 days instead of one). As soon as your brain has a thorough understanding, it becomes bored and moves on to something else. This can be problematic. See if you can make connections between subjects, then teach it. Review often, for short periods of time. For recall, use mnemonics (EGBDF), or recall your learning environment.

The Thirty-Five Minute Study Strategies:

Spend the first 20 minutes learning new material. Take a short break. Review what you learned in yesterday’s 35 minute study period, a few minutes reviewing what you learned last week, and a few minutes reviewing what you learned last month. In the last five minutes review what you just learned in the current 20 minute study period. Quiz yourself. Move on.

This strategy is significantly more effective than using the entire 35 minutes on new learning. Why? Because without reinforcement, you will forget most of it, and become progressively more muddled as the trimester goes on. Instead, the 35 minute strategy discussed above allows you to both reinforce memory and consolidate what you have learned. This prepares you for absorbing what you next want to learn. Review and quiz yourself a little, and often.