So should I be studying instead of writing a blog post about studying? Absolutely. But let me pretend that I have my life together and I got this. In an ideal world, studying for an exam would be reviewing the stellar notes you took in lecture and based off the readings you did every week and on-time. But in the real world, exams are coming up, you didn't catch up on our readings over reading week, and your lecture notes are a mess. If that sounds a bit more accurate, keep reading.
Step One: Get organized
You can't start studying until you have a good study plan and study schedule prepared. Some people may just jump into their readings and notes, hoping to read everything but that makes it easy to miss some important topics you may need for the exam. Your first step should be looking at the syllabus and making a checklist of all the readings and weekly topics you covered during the semester. Make a checklist for each class. This way you have a snapshot of where you are in your studying and what else needs to get done.
Step Two: Finish your readings
If you haven't finished all your readings, catch up before the semester ends. Don't wait until the night before your exam to finish the last chapter. Look at your class schedule, work schedule, etc. and create a reading schedule. Plan out how many chapters you will read each day and allocate time for yourself to make notes and review those notes.
Step Three: Notes
Notes, cue cards, cheat sheets; get them ready! Now, do you write them out or do you type them? A lot of professionals and profs will tell you about the benefits of writing out your notes as it helps you retain the information better. Although that may be true, I find it inefficient. Especially during exam season, your time is valuable and you shouldn't be wasting it writing out notes and then wasting time trying to figure out what it is you wrote because you were rushing. Personally, I type out all my notes and combine my lecture notes and reading notes into one document, organized by week. Once I have that document ready, I print it out and go over it, highlighting key information, making handwritten notes on top of the typed notes, and writing on post-it notes to summarize heavier topics.
Step Four: Group Study
I always find it beneficial to study with others. But be smart about who you study with. But don't just study with someone you know has memorized the textbook word for word, they will just stress you out. Study with people you know are responsible and can engage in conversation about the topics discussed in the course outline. I find it helps to have an open discussion with 3 or 4 other people and go through the content together. Ask each other questions, teach others about the areas you are comfortable with, and learn and review.
For more exam prep resources, check out these links: