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Studying & Test Prep

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Studying & Test Prep

Find a method that works best for you. What works for one class may not work best for you in another class.

If you are struggling with studying for exams, reach out to your professor, tutors, or the Assistant Dean in your school.

Study Tips/Tools

How to study for different types of tests:

Objective Test (Multiple Choice or True/False)

  • Study Materials: Quizlet, study guides, flashcards, etc.

Subjective/ Essay Test

  • Brainstorm topics
  • Write out the answers you would give
  • Make outlines and focus on learning the definitions of keywords


Some tools/methods to try:

  • Gather supplies
    • Make use of notebooks, highlighters, colorful pens, post-it notes, index cards, white boards.
      • Need a whiteboard? There are tons of large ones on all three floors of the Library. Plus you can borrow smaller ones from the Library Services & Information Desk. Markers, erasers, and cleaning spray are also available upon request at the desk.
  • Quizlet
    • Make flashcards anywhere
    • Active recall and reinforcing information
    • Other features include Learn, Write, Spell, Match, and Gravity to learn and reinforce the information
  • Five-Day Plan
    • What it can do:
      • Outlines a long term approach to retaining information for tests
      • Tracks what you study and when
      • Breaks big tasks into smaller ones
      • Prevents cramming and provides flexibility
      • Long term retention of information
      • Identifies areas you need to prepare and ensures you know the material
    • How to do it:
      • Gather all the materials you will need to study: notes, textbook, handouts, videos, discussion boards, pen/paper, calculator, etc.
      • Schedule three 20-30 minute study sessions for each of the five days
  • Make your own study guides
    • Turn headings into questions from readings and lectures
    • Make your own questions
    • Use the syllabus to identify information to study and materials to utilize.
    • How to utilize them to the fullest:
      • Write in question format
      • SQR3 Method - A reading comprehension method
      • When completing the study guide for the first time, complete it to the best of your ability
  • Pomodoro Method - a productivity method for staying focused and avoiding multi-tasking
    • Encourages short bursts of manageable chunks of work with breaks built in between.
    • With this method, you work for 25-minutes sessions separated by five-minute breaks. After every four or five Pomodoros (think of these as work sessions), you indulge in a more extended break for 15-20 minutes.
      • 3 Rules to the Pomodoro Technique
        • Break down complex projects
          • If a task takes more than 4 Pomodoro intervals it
            must be broken down to smaller steps
        • Small tasks go together
          • If the task takes less than the Pomodoro,
            combine it with other simple tasks such
            as “set a reminder”
        • Once a Pomodoro is set, it must ring
          • The Pomodoro cannot be broken. Do
            not check emails, texts, social media,

Test Prep Tips

  • Find your ideal study space. Distraction-free is best.
    • Use a private study carrel in the Library.
    • Reserve a study room in the Library.
    • Try the Quiet Study Area rm 115 on the lower level of the Library.
    • Other academic buildings, lower level of Campus Ministry, etc.
  • Break content into smaller chunks to avoid cramming.
  • Plan out your study time. Avoid procrastination.
  • Take breaks so your brain can process the information and avoid burnout.
  • Ask your teacher questions about the test format or what type of content will be on it.
  • Arrive early/on-time for the test day.
  • Try studying with a group - quiz each other, talk through the material.
  • Make an outline for essays on a test.
  • Eat healthy meals and get a good nights sleep.

Resources at Fairfield University

Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

  • Prepare in advance so your brain and confidence have time to strengthen with the material

    • The more days you study ahead of the exam, the less pressure you need to exert on yourself at one time.

    • Splitting up your study responsibilities over multiple days allows your brain time to process the information.

  • Come up with a positive, self-motivating statement

    • A simple phrase that makes you feel good about yourself and encourage yourself can help you get through moments of doubt or panic during an exam. Instead of thinking negatively when you aren’t sure of an answer or are feeling overwhelmed, say this positive statement.

    • Examples:

      • I can do this.

      • I am good enough.

      • I am going to do the best I can and that is good.

      • I am capable of succeeding.

      • I have worked hard for this.

  • Try to calm the body

    • If your body begins to tense up and you are feeling stressed during the exam take a minute for yourself. Taking a minute to bring yourself out of your head and back into the room is important in refocusing your energy. Try these:

      • Put your pencil down.

      • Close your eyes and take several deep breaths.

      • Inhaling while counting to three.

      • Hold while counting to three.

      • Exhale while counting to three.

      • Do this until you can bring yourself back down to a point where you can productively continue the exam.

  • Plan something relaxing for yourself after the exam

    • While there are always multiple assignments and responsibilities, it is important to return to equilibrium after a spike in anxiety and stress. It can be helpful to allot time to relax after an exam, you have earned it.

    • Taking a walk around campus, grabbing coffee with a friend, or taking a nap, could all be easy and helpful ways to relax and provide yourself and your brain some time to decompress.