So now we’re at the point of the semester when professors are beginning to give their first exams of the semester. (I have my first physics exam on Friday!) The first test in a new class can be daunting, especially if you’ve never had the professor before and don’t know what to expect. So, don’t freak! I have a few tips to help you!
Ask your professor how they typically format their tests. It’s super helpful to know if you only have to worry about preparing for multiple choice, or if you also have to anticipate short answer questions. If a professor doesn’t offer up how their tests are formatted, ask friends who may have taken the class before! Previous students from other semesters can give insight into how long tests might have been, as well as types of questions that were asked. Be sure to NOT talk about the actual content of the exams though!! That can be considered cheating and might result in strict consequences.
Be sure to clarify what exactly you are being tested on! Some professors insist they only teach what they lecture on, so great! Study your notes! However, I’ve been in classes where anything was game for tests: lecture, lab material, and content from the text book. So, make sure you ask your professor to clarify what content is actually going to be tested on. It would totally stink to not read the chapters in the book and then have to fumble through 10 questions that you really have no idea how to answer.
Take advantage of practice tests/ study guides! If you are lucky enough to have a professor that gives you study materials, use them! Professors make those guides knowing what they are going to test students on; those study guides are gold, treat them as such. I use study guides to gauge out how the test may be formatted, ie: if there are a lot of short answer questions on a study guide, I assume that short answer questions will take up a large portion of the exam.
If you’re feeling uneasy, go to office hours! Take advantage of the times when your professor is in their office and ask any questions you might have. Even if you don’t have any specific questions, go talk to your professor and see what they have to say. If I ever feel uneasy about an exam I go talk to my professor about the exam just to calm my nerves.
These are only a few tips for tests that I have. But, obviously, my biggest tip is to study. Professor usually give exam dates well in advance, so don’t wait until the last night to cram in all the info you need to know.
Good luck on your first tests! (And all of the tests that follow throughout the semester!) You’re all going to do great.