UW Home Undergraduate Academic Affairs Make a Gift Contact
search

Preparing for Tests

Preparing for Tests

Because the UW is on the quarter system, classes tend to move quickly! When it comes to preparing for midterms or finals, it's important to see this as an ongoing process that begins when you first open your textbook or take notes in a course. All lecture notes, reading notes, or class handouts should be set up to help you review for tests efficiently. If you get in the habit of looking at class notes daily and weekly, you'll learn the material over time. In addition to reviewing your class notes, here are some strategies you can use to optimize your studying as you prepare for midterm and final exams!

 Predict Test Questions

Tests from earlier in the quarter are the best source of information, so hold on to them or ask your teacher if they will give you a practice exam! What subjects did the professor test you on? Which did they omit? What kind of question was asked (objective, short answer, essay, application)? Is the professor more interested in detail, main principles or both?

Other sources of information are:

Try this: Make note of the professor's questions during lecture or office hours, and test yourself to make sure you can answer them!

Review Your Graded Tests

Regardless of how you score on an exam, take the time to go through it and figure out why you got the wrong answer. For each question, try to reconstruct your thought process: Did you misinterpret the question or not spend enough time on a certain concept? On an objective test, if you wavered between two answers, and then chose the wrong one, why did that happen? What would you have needed to know to choose the right one? Do you need to change the way you study for the next test?

Try this: look for patterns in the problems you miss. If you're missing a lot of the multiple choice questions, it might help to meet with your professor or TA to discuss study strategies.

If you aren't sure why you're getting things wrong, ask your professor to help you figure it out, or discuss it with a study partner or friend. You can always a arrange a time to meet with your professor or stop in during office hours - this can also be a good time to discuss study strategies!

When You Study

Try this: Make a study guide or study sheet with main concepts and formulas. List the topics you need to review and organize the material that covers each topic, and refer to it throughout your study sessions.

Strategies for Different Types of Exams

Try this: Make a quiz or flashcard deck with potential test questions, and give it to your friend or classmate - the process of making a test can deepen your understanding of the material.

Test-Taking Strategies

Try this: Don't pull an all-night before the test! Focus on preparing for the test over the course of a few days.

Other Test Resources

Adapted from Active Learning: A Study Skills Worktext by Rory Donnelly (1990).