Preparing for Tests in College

We all need to take tests in college. Some times we may feel unprepared for exams, and get anxious during the tests that can cause lower scores. View this presentation to learn the different strategies on test preparation.

Slide 1: Welcome to the TLC’s online test preparation workshop.

Slide 2: This workshop offers ideas, strategies and tools that will enhance your ability to process and retain college level material, and increase your test performance. You may have noticed that requirements of college testing are quite different. You’re expected to think and process material at higher levels, and to solve problems you may have never seen before the test.

Slide 3: Bloom’s Taxonomy offers descriptions of learning levels. The lower levels are simpler. The higher you move, the more complex the mental processing becomes. Most students have become proficient at gaining knowledge. They know how to memorize and regulate information for exams. But most college testing is at the comprehension, application and analysis levels. In order to test well at this level, you need to study at these higher levels.

Slide 4: The first step to become a more independent higher order learner is to reexamine the way you study. Pretend for a moment you are an athlete who has an important game coming up in three weeks. What would you say if your coach just informed you that there will be no practices until the night before the game and you will stay up and practice all night? Athletes understand the importance of daily ongoing workouts for athletic success and progress. So why is it that we seem to think we can succeed academically by using one or two really hard practices or cram sessions right before the test? Step one is to set up daily practice sessions. Educators call this ‘distributed practice’.

Slide 5: It may be helpful to get a better sense of how your brain works. Scientists know that the more pathways by which you take in information, the stronger the memory. Using more senses is called multi-sensory experience, and involves more parts of the brain. If you can’t remember what you saw, maybe you can think about what you heard, and that would help bring the memory back. Maybe you can picture what you were writing, or saying to someone. Each time you use a sense to work with the information, you are creating a stronger pathway. In addition to sensory pathways, you also have pathways where information comes in, and pathways where information goes out. Do you ever know it, but can’t say it? It’s because speaking and writing are pathways in the brain from seeing and listening. Speaking and writing are output pathways, while reading and listening are input pathways. Putting information in is easier than getting information out. In your study sessions, practice getting the information out, so you strengthen that output pathway. For example, when learning new vocabulary, say the words aloud; even better, say and write them at the same time. Talk yourself through math problems and the process of doing the problem will be easier.

 Slide 6: The single most important factor in learning is your existing knowledge on the topic that you already have, before learning new material. An important first step is to make a connection from what is in your brain, to the new information. Sometimes things seem to come easier to other students. This is probably because they have more experience on the topics. You may have to fill in some gaps before you can begin to learn new material. If new material seems confusing or difficult, you may need to back up a step, and get some additional information or practice, to fill in the gap. In addition to connecting existing knowledge to new information, the brain naturally learns by seeing patterns and making sense of them. Information that you need to learn usually has a pattern like cause and effect. Diagrams, lists, charts, and maps, use the pattern of organization to present information in a visual way. This makes it easier to understand and learn.

Slide 7: If you are not sure about something, get help. Malay College provides face to face and online tutoring for many subjects, or you could make an appointment with your instructor. You could also form a study group so you can discuss the new concepts you are learning and quiz each other.

Slide 8: There are a variety of study apps to help you create diagrams and charts, flash cards and practice test. Using a variety of study tools will help increase your test performance.

Slide 9: If you are not sure about something, get help. Maui College provides face-to-face and online tutoring for many subjects, or you can make an appointment with your instructor. You can also form a study group so you can discuss the new concepts you are learning and quiz each other.

Remember, to prepare for college tests, you need to schedule regular study sessions, connect new information with what you already know, organize information to identify patterns and relationships and use study tools like flashcards and practice tests in order to strengthen multiple pathways.