How to prepare for midterms and final exams

Senior university students are fully aware of it and freshmen will soon find that out – exam periods are a time of the year when you are constantly sleep deprived, stressed out beyond your imagination and your brain cells are burning out due to the excess amount of studying. In addition, studying for exams in an online study form is generally more challenging. To put it bluntly, it’s a period of hell. However, with the right preparations, you can lessen the pressure and pass the exams relatively easily. And to those who don’t have enough time to make proper preparations, we have useful tips as well!

When exams are far away

Proper preparations need time to be really efficient. If you plan things out early and start incorporating these tips as soon as possible, I’m sure that you will pass all your exams.

Study consistently

Although this is the most cliché phrase that every professor uses and students generally ignore it, it is indeed a very effective way to significantly increase your chances of successfully passing the subject. If you at least review the subject for 1-2 hours every week, you will be able to make relations between various information and thus remember it for a long time. Then when you study for that specific exam, you will need much less time to review and understand the topics. If you cram it all 2 days before the exam, your brain won’t be able to digest it, resulting in making you more confused and stressed out.

Attend lectures/seminars

“Attend lectures and seminars” – another textbook phrase which is being said over and over and over. Whether attending lectures is worth it or not is entirely up to you to consider. However, attending lectures and seminars have their advantages, which can sometimes significantly help you. They are:

  1. Effective studying – Although it heavily depends on the lector/professor who is teaching the subject, some professors lecture the subject in an effective and entertaining way that it is easy to understand and digest. They will try to give examples, make relations, put facts into practice etc. This is way better than studying it on your own from a textbook.
  2. Bonus points – To motivate students to attend lectures, some lectors give bonus points to all students who attended the lectures. These points are often added into the exam or to a separate column. They may not amount to much, but these couple of bonus points are sometimes very crucial and can turn a failing exam into a successful one.
  3. Useful information – Lectors appreciate the fact that students are attending their lectures, therefore, they often disclose information regarding exams, which you normally wouldn’t know unless you attended the lecture or someone who attended it told you. This information can not only be regarding the structure of the exam (multiple choice, open questions, essays…), but also regarding specific examples and questions (this topic will be in the essay, this equation will be in the exam, but with different numbers…). Knowing such information is very valuable because you can then study more efficiently.

Logically schedule your exams

All students have the option to schedule their exams as they like. In addition, all subjects offer several dates when you can take the exam and the dates are often posted weeks and weeks prior to the exam period. This can be used to your advantage and then you can tailor your studying strategy around it. For these reasons, I recommend making the exam schedule as soon as possible and when making one, make sure to have some time in between the harder exams, so that you have enough time for studying. There are two main options, which you can try when creating a schedule:

  1. Take all easy exams in the first two weeks – This is a method which I personally use, because it allows you to swiftly deal with easier exams and then you can forget about them and focus on the harder ones. In addition, you will have more time for them as you packed all the easier ones in just one or two weeks.
  2. Start with the hardest exams – This method is a polar opposite of the previous one. The point behind this method is that you should take advantage of the fact that you still remember something from the lectures/seminars, so you don’t have to study that much for it compared to taking the exam a couple of weeks later.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. It really depends on the subjects you are currently having and which method suits your style of studying more. But remember to put some thought into it. If you plan the exams incorrectly, it may result in not passing the exams or sacrificing one exam to study for the other.

Study groups

Study groups are a very effective way to help you prepare for exams, if you are in the right study group and study place with the appropriate atmosphere. From my experience, the most optimal number of people is around 2-4 including you. If there are more, then chances are that you will get off track and the study group will turn into a chatting group.

When you are studying in a group, try to let one person talk and explain the topic and the rest adding information they might have missed. By explaining it, they will truly understand whether they know enough about the topic to explain it to you or not. And if you are adding information, you also have to have a good comprehension about the topic. And then switch roles once you change the topic.

Also try to have discussions on these topics. By openly talking about it, you are forced to think about the theme in more depth and from different angles, which leads to a better understanding of the topic.

Have enough rest

Although I understand that it’s difficult to rest because you might feel like you should study and not rest, but seriously try to at least go outside and have some fresh air and sleep enough the day before the exam. It will help you recover and clear your mind. If you don’t rest enough, it will cloud your mind and you might make silly mistakes due to your tiredness.

When you don’t have enough time

Let’s be honest, more often than not, students don’t have enough time to study for all of their exams, whether it’s due to their procrastination or the difficulty of the exams. During these times, normal means are not that effective, so students have to opt for the less righteous methods.

Summarized study materials

There are lots of ways how you can obtain these summarized study materials, however, the majority of them can be found on the student’s website and forums. They are a compilation of the most important information and occasionally complemented by small test samples or questions, which have appeared in previous exams. It’s also worth mentioning that they are made by students who passed these exams, so they are very accurate. If you don’t have enough time to study, this is probably the best option, efficiency wise. Examples of these websites are:

  1. VŠE university – vseborec.cz, studolog.cz (More info about VŠE websites and facebook pages
  2. ČZU university – czuborec.cz
  3. CTU university – courseware wiki, FIT wiki
  4. Charles university – forum.matfyz.info

Test examples

These “study materials” can be found on the student’s website and are exactly as the name suggests. Someone compiled all the questions with the right answers and put it on the internet. Students then memorize the questions and answers and hope to get these exact questions. This method doesn’t always work as some lectors are remaking the questions every single year, however, in general it’s still a rather efficient method.

From what I have experienced thus far and seen from others, this method requires full commitment and luck. If you don’t have enough time and you think that the questions will repeat from the previous years, just go all in on this method and ignore all other study materials. If you focus on too many different sources, it won’t work.

Last minute cramming

When you don’t have enough time, then you are often left with last minute cramming. To make the most out of it, try to study the most important topics of the subject to cover everything and skip the detailed information. Although your knowledge will be shallow, you still have a chance of figuring the detailed information out based on the general overview you get by studying everything shallowly. Also try to spend more time on the topics the lector said will be in the exams. But overall, last minute cramming is not the most efficient way of studying, therefore I suggest you avoid it if possible.

These tips and advice should help you successfully pass the exams. However, they are not omnipotent and universal as it depends on the subject and the university you are studying. Therefore, if you need specific help or you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will lend you a hand!

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