Academic Support Center — 27 November 2012

The class session before the final exam can yield important information that can help you better prepare. Despite this fact, many students fail to take advantage of the in-class review sessions. They show up and expect the instructor to give minimal information regarding the exam and perhaps cram-review weeks’ worth of content in a meager fifty to seventy-five minutes. Rather than sit by passively and expect to be given all necessary information, you as the student should arrive at the class prepared to take full advantage of the in-class review.

Preparing for an exam is both academic and psychological. Academic preparation is generally content-related; reading over notes, practicing problem sets, rewriting and organizing notes, and creating chapter summaries are widely accepted and highly encouraged ways of academically preparing for an exam. Psychological preparation deals with format and environment for the most part. Knowing the format of the exam, the number and types of questions to be asked, any time restrictions, and any additional aids you may be allowed are ways to psychologically prepare for an exam. During an in-class review session, you should come prepared to ask questions about both content and format.

As a student, you are entitled to know how you will be assessed and over what content. You also have the right to know how you will be graded, how much the exam will count towards your overall grade, and when you should expect to receive feedback regarding your grade. As a student, it is your own responsibility to attend the in-class review session and ask questions that you prepare beforehand to better learn about the upcoming exam.

Consider the following questions to be asked during an in-class review:

  1. How long is the exam?
    How many questions are on the exam?
    Will we have the entire class period to complete the exam?
  2. What types of questions will be on the exam?
    How many of each type of question?
    How many points is each type of question worth?
  3. How does the exam compare to homework assignments?
    Can you give an example of a type of problem that will be on the exam?
    Which homework/problem sets will best reflect the content and format for the exam?
    Will you make a sample exam available?
  4. What are we permitted to use during the exam?
    Is the exam open or closed book? Open or closed note?
    Are we permitted an index card or page for reference?

Another useful question tactic regarding content for the exam is, “What do you feel is the most important part about…” where you complete the phrase with content or ideas regarding possible exam questions. This shows the instructor that you are aware of the greater subject matter to be covered, but you want the instructor’s opinion regarding the relevance of key points to the overall course and specifically the exam.

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