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How To: Study © R. Craig Collins, 2005

Most learning is easiest to recall in a similar environment to where you learned it… meaning if you only study at night, taking a test during the day, at a foreign location, testing can be a problem.

To minimize this, follow the following guidelines.

Cramming isn't learning, as the info just goes into short term memory, which evaporates like RAM when you write your name on the test. Instead, try to really learn the material by reviewing daily, and making a list of things that give you trouble. Focus on those items, instead of confusing things you actually already know. The next day, make a new list, which should be shorter, until you get to test day, and your are comfortable with all the material. Do some gentle review around the time of day you plan to take the test, to overcome the foreign testing situation even further.

Some of you will still cram, though. You’ll stay up late, and then you’ll show up at the testing center dead tired… don’t go get some coffee! Caffeine is actually a depressant that will drop you after it gives you a case of hyper nerves.

But you’re still tired… (because your crammed, and didn't sleep) so if you can’t have a coffee of cola, maybe your tempted to have a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts for some quick energy, instead. DON’T! Sugar is muscle food, not brain food. You’ll have plenty of energy to run to the testing center, but you will have diverted blood flow away from your brain.

But what if you normally stay up until 3:00 am, get up to a gallon of coffee and a box of Ding Dongs? Well, don’t break your routine… stay in routine as much as possible… again, night owl may need to practice getting up a day or two before the test.

Next, test taking is about decisions, here are a few tips on actually selecting the right answer.

Finally, no one will care what you made on a test in five years… so don’t stress. In a well designed class, a test is a learning tool, not punishment. It points out where you still need work, and gives you the opportunity to actually do what school is supposed to be about: learning!

PS After you take your test, you can start calculating your GPA. You may use the following Excel spreadsheet, if you like.

Grade book (right click, choose Save As)