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Skidmore College
Student Academic Services Tips


TIPS: Study Skills and Strategies

Preparing for Exams

Successful Preparation Strategies
  • Highlight test dates and grade percentages on the syllabus.
  • Comprehend texts and lecture notes by putting concepts and definitions in your own words, by posing questions, and by using two-column note-taking.
  • Use flash cards, outlines, memory techniques, and study questions.
  • Complete questions at the back of the chapter and take practice quizzes.
  • Question the professor about test format and materials to be covered.
  • Predict what kinds of questions may be asked with new material.
  • Attend review sessions.
  • Study in short periods for an hour at a time over duration of time.
  • Work with a study group. Each person can present one part of the material. Students can teach each other and quiz each other. Students can discuss material so that everyone understands.
  • Tests provide feedback, so review prior tests in order to evaluate mistakes and improve future performance. Meet with the professor if you have any questions regarding mistakes.

Strategies for Taking an Exam

  • Skim or survey the entire test and allocate time for each section/question. Note the point value of questions.
  • Answer the questions you know first. Complete the sections you feel most confident about first.
  • Mark all questions that you need to return to if time permits. Sometimes completing the test jogs a memory, or one question may provide information to help you answer another question.

Strategies for Essay Questions

  • Before writing an answer, read each question carefully and underline the verbs to determine what the question is asking. Break each question down into its separate parts
  • Make a quick outline to organize your initial thoughts.
  • Do not write introductions. Respond directly to the question. You may be able to write the first sentence by changing the question into a statement. Make essential points and be concise but thorough.
  • Leave space after each essay answer; you may be able to add to your answer if time permits.

Strategies for Multiple Choice and True/False

  • Read the question and all choices.
  • Sometimes you can anticipate the answer before reviewing any choices. Then that anticipated answer can be matched to the best choice.
  • Do not devote too much time to a question you feel uncertain about. Mark it and return to it if time permits.
  • Be attuned to modifying phrases or words that have been added to true/false statements. If one such word or detail is false, the entire statement can be deemed false even if most of it seems accurate. All aspects of the statement must be true.
  • Be attuned to qualifiers (always, never, sometimes, some, none, all) and double negatives.

Strategies for Number Problems

  • For some questions you might start by writing the appropriate rule or formula in the margin before solving the problem.
  • Show all work; the steps used to find the answer may earn points even in an answer that is wrong.
  • Try to answer all questions, even if only partially. You may receive points for partial answers.