Studying F.A.S.T for Exams

So it’s that time of the semester and you are wondering, how are you going to have the time to read entire text books and prepare for exams? It’s all about finding your study style. It is easy for us to cram days before an exam so that we know what we need in order to get that passing grade. But what happens after the exam? Sometimes, you forget everything. It has certainly happened to me. I forgot everything because I did not take the time to understand the subject. I found that when I took the time to truly understand the topic, I was able to approach the exam with a different view.

In taking a high level approach to my notes, I asked myself some key questions to summarize what I was reading.

  1. What is the general idea of the topic? What is the objective?
    1. Basically if I could right a synopsis in one line, what would it be.
  2. What are the key aspects? Pros, cons and key points
    1. This provides more detail such as key findings.
  3. What was discovered? What does it all mean? 
    1. What conclusions have been drawn or can be drawn

Whether you are a visual or auditory learner or learn better by doing, here are a few other tips to consider:

  • Stay abreast of current lectures
    • At the end of the day, take a few minutes just to review day’s lectures. If there is something you do not understand, your review will help identify it.
  • In the midst of frustration, take step back
    • Sometimes you may feel as if you are hitting a wall with a topic, this is when it is important to speak up and ask questions. Talk to your professor or teaching assistant for guidance on how to approach parts of a review that may be challenging.
  • Host a study group
    • This is a great way to spend time with your friends. Meet in the library or coffee shop and make this a recurring meeting.
    • Form a homework group with you classmates. Sometimes everybody may not know the answer for everything but often times, enough of you know the answer for some things.
  • Avoid lengthy notes
    • Be brief and precise.
    • Use flash cards (highlight 3 main points)
  • Learning by doing
    • Sometimes it helps to have a little practice. Try answering the questions at the end of a chapter or in a practice exam.
  • Length of study time
    • Avoid studying multiple hours at once. Take a short break after about an hour to help your mind reset. You don’t want to burn yourself out before the real race even begins.

When it comes to preparing and studying for exams, you have to listen to you body and your mind. Be mindful of your saturation point and limits. Most importantly, don’t forget to study F.A.S.T.

  • Focus on the key points and takeaways
  • Alternate where you study
  • Surround yourself with people who you can not only ask for help, but uplift you
  • Timing is important. Take time for rest and self-care.

What methods do you use to study?

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