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Learning for STEM Exams

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Identify learning priorities with practice exams

  • Why this works: You only have so much time to prepare, so it’s best to ensure you are addressing what’s most important early on. A practice exam can be an assessment tool to uncover your priorities.
  • How to do it: five to seven days in advance of the test, create a sheet with two columns titled “Confident” and “Not Confident.” Do a practice test without reviewing your notes, noting in the Confident/Not Confident table what your strengths and weaknesses are. Use that information to plan what you most need to study.

Create a monster problem set

  • Why this works: The best way to easily and quickly pair the correct procedure with a problem is to have to think of the procedure with every problem you do, rather than doing ten in a row with basically the same procedure.
  • How to do it: Mix up the problems from different problem sets in random order.
    Bonus: Do this first with problems from your “Not Confident” column.

Test with another person

  • Why this works: You’ll have an easier time with those never-before-seen problems on the test if you know the concepts and procedures so well you can teach them.
  • How to do it: Write down a couple of questions you’d like to be asked about key concepts. Ask a classmate, friend, or family member to ask you those questions. Explain as though you are the teacher. Jot down what you struggle with to learn later.