10 Surefire Ways To Ace Your Next Exam

10 Surefire Ways To Ace Your Next Exam

A forever-4.0 student's insight into what it takes to ace your exams this quarter.

We all want to start off this quarter with good grades and give ourselves some "cushion" in our grades early on. As a forever-4.0 student, I've learned through experience how to study in a way that helps me ace tests, and I hope it works out for you too! Everyone learns differently, but there are a few tips and tricks that I've learned to be true in studying the material for class and taking your exams like a boss.

1. Take notes in class.

This might seem like something you already know, but it isn't as obvious as it seems. Writing on paper is a really good way to remember the material, and it can also help your understanding to write notes in your own words. It's hard sometimes to keep up with the lecture as well as keep notes, so when possible, I print out the slides for the lecture beforehand and take notes on those, or try to pay attention as best I can while writing down key points. I have known some other students to record lectures and play back any part that they may have missed later on.

Taking notes in class isn't only a great way to remember the information, but also a great source to come back to when studying for exams. Often I find when I'm studying that I don't fully understand a term or concept, and it's nice to be able to refer to class notes for clarification.

2. Do your homework.

This tip may also seem a bit self-explanatory. Do your homework, get good grades, right? There's more to it than that. It's more about what we take away from the homework that is important to our exam grades. Homework really sucks, but the more you solidly understand before studying for the exam, the better! Take breaks when doing homework to keep your head from exploding. Homework usually makes good practice, even though we've all had a teacher who just gave busy-work for homework.

Homework is also great for studying before tests. I've found that particularly in math and other subjects where the coursework is cumulative, holding on to completed homework is very helpful.

3. Take notes on the material.

When there is an assigned reading for a course, it's usually very tempting for a college student with a busy schedule to skim through the reading, just to get through it before the next class. Taking notes on key points doesn't take long to do, and you'll remember the basic outline of the reading for understanding at the very least.

If there is an assignment involved based on the assigned reading, I usually make more of a point to take notes on any parts of the reading relevant to my assignment, as well. Taking notes on the material in the same notebook or binder as the notes from class will make it very easy to study the information before the exam, granted that all of the notes are labeled and dated.

4. Make flashcards.

With organized, labeled notes for the course, it should be relatively easy to make note cards for the exam. This is the easiest, yet most time-consuming task besides doing the actual reading, but it's worth the results. Any terms you know beyond a doubt, or "common sense" terms don't need to be written on flash cards. That's why it's a good thing to understand the material before you start studying.

Flashcards work exceedingly well if you give yourself time to create them, as well as time to study them. It's convenient to either get flashcards with holes or hole-punch them, and keep them on a binder ring for organization. Putting a term or question on one side and a definition or answer on the other is usually how I format my cards. I usually word them so they can be flipped over and gone through the other direction. When studying from flashcards, it's important to try to generate the answer yourself without looking at the back until you have answered it.

5. Be curious.

Not all of your questions will be answered in every class, and there's always some things the professor just won't have time to teach. Khan Academy is one of the many great resources out there that can help you fill in the blanks. Khan Academy has materials on many different subjects for those who want to know more about a topic. Whether it's basic math you need a refresher on, or understanding neurons, Khan Academy can help out tremendously. Being curious and wanting to know more about a topic will help your understanding in many ways. The internet is an oracle of information, but it's important that we are weary of which information is accurate. Don't rely on one source for information, but find different ways that information is explained to fully understand.

6. Clarify when you can.

There are scenarios that it doesn't feel like we can ask questions, but do it when you can! Asking questions in class is the fastest way to clarify something and there's probably other students in the room wanting to ask the same thing. Participate in class and asking questions will surely help you understand the material, as well as understand the expectations. Both of these benefits will help you work towards the larger goal of acing your exam, and finally, the class!

7. Form a study group.

Sorry, introverts! Forming a study group is a surefire way to do well on your exams. Don't get me wrong, you need to study on your own as well. But studying in a group can fill in all the gaps before an exam! Plus, if you're sick for a day, it's nice to have someone in class who you can ask for notes. Making connections in the beginning of the quarter is always a good way to start a study group because everyone else is in the same position as you!

If you don't want to start your own group, there's probably already a group in existence that would love to see your smiling face for study sessions! Look around and be brave by asking any groups that sit together. Canvas messaging is also a great way to connect with your classmates at WWU for study group information.

8. Use the Tutoring Center.

The Tutoring Center rocks, especially when it comes to core classes. Even if you're sitting with someone in a different math class, they're asking the same questions because they're working on the same material. I love how there are tables set up based on the course. The Tutoring Center is a great place to meet people for future study sessions as well, because obviously you both are looking to do well on your exams!

9. Go to office hours.

It might be something you just don't really want to do, but your professor's office hours are an important resource. If your peers, the Internet, and the Tutoring Center fail you, it might be time to go to office hours for help. There's nothing wrong with needing help, or just checking in with your instructor through the quarter, staying on top of your work, and caring about the class is the best way to get on their good side (as well as maybe a letter of recommendation in the future).

10. Show up!

This may also seem pretty simple, but it's more than just physically showing up. Show up physically, but also mentally. Show up to class ready to learn even though to sun is coming out and you'd rather be anywhere else. Show up for class with the intention of paying attention and taking notes, and nothing will get in your way when it comes to acing your next big exam! If your class is early, do yourself a favor and grab some coffee beforehand to help you pay attention.

Some of my tips are common knowledge and some things I do out of preference because of the success I've had. Everyone is different, and some particular tips may not be for everyone. Trying different ways to learn is what makes you the best student that you can be. Good luck this quarter, and work hard to ace your exams!

Cover Image Credit: https://www.sonoma.edu/it/images/scantron.jpg

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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5 Struggles That Coming Home For The Summer Pose

Summer isn't always what you think it's going to be, especially when you're coming home.


Summer break is amazing in so many ways: you're given countless hours to yourself, no daily stresses concerning school and assignments, and no overbearing pressures to go out every single night. However, coming home (usually) means you're back living with your parents and back to abiding by their rules, despite the fact that for around ten months, you were the only person making the rules in your own home. Despite the perks that come with summer, I have composited 10 reasons why summer can be hard to bear.

1. Having a set curfew.

I find it almost comical that I was able to "run free" for 10 months in Tallahassee with no regard for what time it was, but while at home I get the "it's time to come home" text from my parents as soon as 11 o'clock rolls around. For the entire school year, I was able to stay at friends' places until the sun came up, at walk out of clubs around closing time with no fear of getting punished for staying out too late, but now, I have to constantly plan around my curfew and ensure that I'm home before I get on my parents' bad side.

2. Having to get a summer job.

It was always a rule in my house that jobs were only meant for summer since my parents felt that getting good grades were our primary priority, so now that school's out, I'm working at my local Panera and dog-sitting for my neighbors, even though I absolutely hate dogs. Working isn't the worst thing I've had to do, but when I have to miss beach days and parties for a job that only pays $9 an hour, it sucks!

3. Countless days of boredom. 

College has made me accustomed to being surrounded by other people and activities 24/7. Sure, there were a couple of hours a day for alone time, but the majority of my day was spent hanging out with friends, going to my sorority, going out, and attending class. Now that I'm home and far away from my friends and the social aspect of FSU, I find myself bored and lonely.

4. Less freedom and independence. 

While away at school, I was able to do pretty much anything I wanted without my parents finding out. I was able to go get fast food in the middle of the night, go out to clubs, and sleep at my friends' place whenever I wanted. Sadly, now that I'm home, I can't just leave whenever I want or do whatever I want; I have to tell my parents when I'm going to places, where I'm going, who I'm meeting, and when exactly I'll be home.

5. Having to unpack and sort through your old clothes and the ones you brought to school.

Being the youngest has gifted me with an overabundance of hand-me-downs, everything from prom dresses to shoes to jewelry. However, over the years, the amount of clothes I have accumulated is insane; coming home has forced me to sort through the piles of old clothes and things I don't want anymore in order to make room for the multiple suitcases I brought back from school. My room looks like a tornado swept through it for three weeks now, despite the countless hours I have spent organizing, donating, and folding.

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