Exam Strategies to Prepare for your Online Midterms

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Midterms are here and taking an online exam can present some interesting challenges when it comes to test preparation. Having a test-prep strategy can help minimize surprises and the stress of last minute cram sessions.

Review test dates and times.
It is always a good idea to double-check your exam dates and times. It also lets you know how long you have to prepare before the exam. If you are unsure when a test is scheduled and it is not listed in your course materials, contact the instructor for verification.

Find out what you do and do not understand.
Take a day to go through the materials for all of your courses. Spend at least 30 minutes on each course. As you go through your notes, look for holes in the material (i.e. missed reading assignments or lectures) or in your understanding.

Ask yourself do you “get” this topic; do you have a full understanding of what is discussed; and can you take that understanding further? These answers will help you assess where there may be gaps in your comprehension.

Fill in the knowledge gaps.
Once you have assessed what you do and do not understand, you will want to fill in any knowledge gaps as soon as possible. If you are keeping a calendar, schedule time when you will do this for each course. Consider scheduling time with your instructor to discuss hard to grasp topics.

Create a study plan.
Your study plan is your battle strategy for the exam. You will want to start your study plan at least sixteen days from the exam date (2 weeks and 2 days). This gives you two weeks to study and two days of rest before the exam. Structure your study plan so that you only study two course per day for one hour, alternating courses as necessary.

Quiz yourself.
When you study using your notes, quiz yourself over the information. Go through each topic or question one at a time and recite the important concept followed by any supporting details like facts, dates, people and places. For mathematical courses, work sample problems corresponding with every major concept covered in class.

Prepare your computer.
One of the most important—and most neglected—steps in the exam preparation process is making sure your computer is ready for an online exam. This means having a reliable—preferably wired—Internet connection; an Internet browser that is compatible with the type of exam you are taking; up-to-date Java installed; and all necessary software downloaded and tested to make certain it works on your system. Visit our tutorial pages for more information on computer setup and browser configuration.

Plan for the worst.
Anything that can go wrong usually does, especially if you wait until the last possible minute. If your instructor schedules two days for your exam, plan to take the exam early on the first day it is available. If something goes wrong, you have time to contact technical support and your instructor.

Also, you should never wait until the last possible moment to start an exam. If you have a one-hour exam scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m., you should start the exam no later than 10:59 p.m. so that you will be able to re-enter the exam if you lose Internet connection. Blackboard and LockDown Browser allow you to re-enter the exam so long as you have not exceeded the length of time to take the exam AND the time that you re-enter the exam has not expired.

Remember, when you start early you have time to recover from most minor setbacks or make arrangements with your instructor for circumstances outside of your control.

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