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Test prep takes the stress out of exam time

Submitted by Steven Savage on November 11, 2013 – 5:18 pmNo Comment

Illustration by Paige Mason

Fall is here and college students know that means finals are just around the corner. Students new to the college experience may feel overwhelmed or stressed when it comes to tests, but there is hope.

The UALR Trio Student Support Services offered a study skills workshop for the Student Success Initiative Oct. 16. Graduate assistant Purvi Parmar led the workshop and offered tips to improve organization and test taking skills.

“Sometimes students get confused and don’t know where to start,” she said. “They take notes and still don’t know what to study or how to start studying.”

Parmar said the best way to be prepared for an exam is to use your time wisely. Look over your class schedule and set aside times to eat, sleep and study. If you discover you have two or more hours of free time on certain days, use that time to go over information for you exam.

“There’s nothing wrong with being selfish with your time, just say no and set priorities,” Parmar said.

When some students get ready to hit the books, they prefer to study alone. Nonetheless, it can be a good idea to make a own study group. Taking time to divide up the work among your peers decreases your workload and helps you better understand the material.

“Most students prefer to study alone, but don’t underestimate studying in a group,” she said. “You may get some new ideas you missed while studying by yourself.”

If you think back to your younger days, you may remember using flashcards for spelling, math, or science tests. Flashcards are not just for elementary and middle school; they work wonders in college. When you write your notes and definitions more than once, it keeps the information fresh in your mind.

Before students decide to pull out the energy drinks for all-nighters, they may want to stop and get some rest instead. Parmar said it is best to not increase your caffeine intake because it may increase your test anxiety. According to the New York Times, sleep deprivation can interrupt critical thinking and attention span.

“Try to stay sharp by getting at least six to eight hours of sleep before your exam,” Parmar said.

A key piece of advice is to help you during your semester is to become familiar with your course syllabus. It is important to know the date of your exam in advance in order to gather information and clarify notes during class reviews.

“Read your course syllabus, gather lecture notes from your peers, and clarify what notes they are  going to read or review before the exam,” Parmar said. “Practice the test questions and imagine that you are a professor testing other students.”

Parmar also offered the POSSE plan for students to make the best use of study time and efforts:

  • P – Plan out what information is crucial for you to know on the exam
  • O – Organize you lecture notes,materials, flashcards, etc.
  • S – Schedule time to study either with a group or alone
  • S – Study thoroughly by reading and writing out material
  • E – Evaluate yourself after the test

Here are a few steps from to keep in mind on the day of the exam to beat stress:

  1. Avoid stressful people – before a test, do not sit with people who stress you out
  2. Eat healthy and exercise – skip sugar and go for granola bars, healthy cereal or
    fruits and veggies
  3. Say “no” to distractions
  4. Force yourself to take breaks – for every hour that you work, take a 10 or 15 minute
    break
  5. Visualize the test going well to build up confidence
  6. Do not cram hours before an exam – if you are still learning information right up to
    the last few hours before the exam, you may not remember it during the exam.

“Keep working and avoid the wall of impossible,” Parmar said. “Break it down and make things possible. If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get the same result, so make improvements.”

The UALR TRIO Student Support Services has two upcoming workshops in room 103 of the Speech Building at 2 p.m.:

  • October 22 – Writing Skills: Basics of English
  • October 24 – Writing Skills: Basics of Editing

There’s no need to slack off or freak out as finals approach – by implementing some of the study skills from the workshops, students can finish the fall semester with a high GPA and be prepared to take on the spring.

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