Exam Preparation 101: Best Ways To Prepare For College Exams

[Editor’s Note:  The advice expressed in this article is the author’s own and is not necessarily endorsed by The Valedictorian’s Guide.]

By Jim Raychrudhury

Preparing for the final examinations can be challenging if you don’t know where to begin and how to go about it. Many students use ineffective techniques that increase their risk of getting poor grades. Here are tips on how to prepare for your examinations effectively.

How to Succeed in School and Still Have a Little Fun

Create a Study Schedule

You need to stay engaged throughout the semester to increase your chances of passing the final exams. One way to stay engaged is to create a study schedule. A good strategy is to devote 60 to 90 minutes a day for each subject in which you will have a final exam. Figure out what time of the day you are most productive and how long you can maintain focus. You might also want to consider the environment you best study in. Come up with a detailed schedule based on these factors.

Organize Study Groups With Friends

For some people, it’s helpful to join a study group. A study group provides more brain power and motivation if done well. Keep your study group to a small size to avoid distractions. A group of more than six people is unlikely to be effective. You should also ensure everyone has exchanged contact information to enable you to reach each other and plan your studies easily.

Improve Your Memory With Brain Food

Eat foods that can power up your brain and make it very effective during the exam period. This is the time you want to see your plate full of arugula, radish, turnip, broccoli and cauliflower. You might also consider berries, walnuts and fish. You should also drink a lot of water to help flush out toxins from your brain.

Study Every Day

You need to study every day to increase your chances of passing the exam. Devote a bit of your time every day to the courses you prioritize. This will help reduce the levels of anxiety caused by cramming at the last minute. It might help to incorporate study time into your planner just like any other daily activity and stick to it.

Get Enough Sleep

Do not study deep into the hours of the night before the exam. Trust what you have captured and go to sleep. Lack of sleep will impair your reasoning and memory significantly. Just approach the exams with confidence and believe you will pass. Be wary of using coffee or other substances to boost your energy levels. Such options may throw your body off-balance for the rest of the day.

Figure Out What Will Be Covered During the Exams

You have to know what materials are going to be tested so that you can limit your study to them. This includes readings, discussions and materials from the lecturer. Make sure you know whether the exams will cover the content since the midterm or for the whole semester.

Take a Mock Test

Do not just cram the whole day or summarize the contents you are reading. Instead, test yourself using flash cards or take practice exams. This technique is more effective if done repeatedly.

Attend Review Sessions

Make sure to attend review sessions organized by the lecturers or other students. Review sessions will help you identify exactly what topics to focus on during the study. Some lecturers will give you a full list of what will be tested. This information can help you save time by focusing on the relevant areas.

Take Regular Breaks When Studying

Sometimes it is good to allow your system to cool down and reboot. Take breaks at intervals of one hour for at least five minutes. Avoid checking your email or going on Facebook during breaks since you are likely to get carried away. You can also alternate study spots to enhance your concentration levels and increase the rate at which your brain retains information.

You don’t have to burn the midnight oil to pass your exams. You just need an effective study plan. Try the tips discussed above, and you will have yourself to thank later.

Author Bio:  Jim Raychrudhury is a freelance writer and passionate blogger who likes writing articles that cover career, education and business related topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Want study tips from valedictorians, Rhodes scholars, and more?  Then check out The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College.


Expert Stefanie Weisman: How to Study Without Distraction

Thanks to Freedom for posting my article about their internet-blocking software, which is great for students and non-students alike. I’ve re-posted the article below.

Freedom Matters

screen-shot-2015-12-17-at-5-19-19-pmOkay, I admit it. I’ve been having a little problem in the self-control department lately. No matter what I tried to do – write an article, do research, read a book, etc. – I found myself typing the url of some distracting, time-wasting website, with Facebook being the worst offender. It was a rather bizarre feeling, as if my fingers had acquired a mind of their own.  Before I knew it, I had been sucked into an internet black hole of silly videos and mindless trivia, which used up a good chunk of my time and energy.

My situation is hardly unique.  In my experience as a high school and college study skills expert, I’m constantly reminded of the problems caused by excessive internet usage.  On average, teens spend nine hours a day using media for entertainment – that’s more time than they spend sleeping and far more time than…

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Save Astoria’s Cultural Heritage

I know this is off-topic, but I’m including a post from my other blog because we need all the help we can get! Thanks for reading.

Glimpses of Paradise

Rite Aid

I’m very upset that a lovely and historic piece of architecture in my hometown of Astoria, NY, is under threat of destruction.  This terra cotta decoration on 36th St. and Broadway features Neptune and other symbols of the sea, as many decades ago it used to be a Childs Restaurant.

rite aid2

Later it became a Rite Aid, and now it’s a Deals store.  According to the Greater Astoria Historical Society, they’re planning on destroying this whimsical work.  Astoria has been undergoing massive gentrification lately, but that’s no reason to destroy one of the few architectural gems we have.  Please see the Historical Society’s Facebook page for more information.  Apparently they’re trying to give it landmark status, but it’s a difficult process.  They recommend contacting Council Member Costa Constantinides‘ office.  Please help get the word out to protect Astoria’s (and NYC’s) historic and unique architecture!


Please consider sending the following…

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Purgatory in Early Renaissance Art


Giotto’s Last Judgment, Arena Chapel

For those of you interested in early Renaissance Italian art (and you should be!), check out this article I wrote a few years ago in my pre-graduate student days.  It’s called “From the Florence Baptistery to the Camposanto: A Comparative Analysis of Last Judgments” and deals with the subject of Purgatory in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century art.  I kind of liked it so I thought I may as well post it.  Thanks for reading!

Opinion: What Traditional Colleges Can Learn From Online Colleges (Guest Post)

By Kelly Smith. Kelly works at CourseFinder.com.au, an Australian online courses resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers and works as a freelance writer.

The benefits of online education are immense – there’s been a lot of talk lately about the next wave of online training that will completely revolutionize the education sector. Zachary Karabell of The Atlantic pointed out the huge future benefits of this radical change: “The costs of obtaining needed credentials will plummet, and the ability to create more tailored, vocational programs aligned with the skills employers need will increase exponentially.”

It goes without saying that there are several things traditional schooling institutions might learn from their online counterparts even today. Read on to see some of the most valuable aspects of online learning that should be adopted by stationary colleges.


Continue reading

5 Careers for Introverts (Guest Post)

By Jep Barroga.  Jep is a freelance writer for a Malaysian personal finance portal, writing blog posts like the perks of working from home. If he’s not busy writing, you can find him reading articles from Cracked.com and listening to alternative music.

It’s not easy landing your dream job, especially if you’re the timid, shy type—or an introvert, so to speak. Unlike extroverts who have no problems mingling with other people and networking with fellow professionals, introverts are often not so adept at the social skills required to build bigger networks of their own, since most of them have reserved personalities.

Sometimes it can be hard to be a solitary thinker.

Sometimes it can be hard to be a solitary thinker.

I’m an introvert myself and I’ve found my calling as a freelance writer and social media specialist, which allows me to work remotely for clients from anywhere around the world. There are lots of jobs that are best suited for your personality; jobs that can give you the stimulation you crave and allow you to hone your creativity. The following are some ideal careers for introverts:

If you love numbers

Financial Analyst
This job requires you to evaluate a wide scope of data related to business trends, stocks, bonds, and financial statements. Creating financial reports is also important in this type of work.

Accountancy is perfect for introverts who have a passion for numbers. Accountants are mostly left alone in their own cubicles, at their computers, where they must evaluate and decode piles of documents. This type of job requires you to spend most of your time dealing with data and calculations. Most days, accountants do what they need to do with few distractions. Interaction with other people is minimal, although you’ll occasionally have to meet with clients or supervisors.

If you have a passion for the written word

This is one of the most popular types of job for introverts nowadays—particularly those who love to read and write. For people who have a passion for writing, being a website content or technical writer is ideal. This job may sometimes require you to be skilled at marketing. Some companies even offer telecommuting benefits as long as you’re able to meet deadlines.

If you love science

Medical Technician
This job is ideal for introverts who want to go into the medical field. It requires you to collect lab samples, analyze the records, and work behind the scenes to deal with laboratory processes, x-rays, and other test results. You may have to report to doctors, nurses and other professionals about the patient’s lab results, but you will spend most of your time in the laboratory.

If you love art

Graphic Designer
This is a skill-based career. This type of work requires you to spend hours at your desk and computer and formulate a cool image or infographics for clients. You can specialize in areas such as web design or web architecture, which will help you express your ideas digitally, if not on paper or canvas. The great thing about this job is that you only meet with clients and supervisors to have your submissions reviewed or to get feedback on your work.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” as the great Confucius said. The jobs mentioned are some ideal careers for introverts. However, if your passions lie elsewhere, you may try to improve your communication skills and minimize your timid traits so that it will be easier for you to get hired in the profession you want.

For a limited time, get The Secrets of Top Students ebook for $2.99!

Travel Adventure #1: Playing Dead in Montmajour Abbey

Glimpses of Paradise

Call me morbid, but I love old cemeteries.  They’re so peaceful, so spiritual, so, well, otherworldly.  I can spend hours looking at  tombstones and reading the inscriptions, thinking about how the people lived. 

My all-time favorite cemetery is the one I came across unexpectedly at Montmajour Abbey, a huge medieval monastery outside of Arles in France.  There aren’t any bodies there now – they were removed long ago.  When I first saw the large holes cut into the rocky outcrop outside the abbey, I didn’t know what they were.  Then I realized the holes were vaguely human-shaped, with angular cuts for the shoulders and head.  My thoughts went something like this:

“Oh my God, those are tombs cut into the rock.”

“Wow, they are hundreds of years old.”

“It’s strange that there’s nothing covering them.”

“Since there’s nothing covering them, I should probably get inside one right now!”

And that’s…

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Are you considering starting a sweepstakes or promotion? Read this first.

It’s harder than you think! I’m considering starting one for my upcoming book The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College and I highly recommend this checklist provided by Santella and Associates. It’s chock-full of information about what’s legal and what’s not. (Hint: most things are not technically legal.)

Here are some other good links:
Legal Issues Affecting Promotions and Sweepstakes
Social Media Promotions and the Law
How to run a website contest without going to jail. This one’s particularly useful for writers.

Another P.S. 122 Update – it’s good news this time

May 2013 Update
I have a ton of updates in this post – sorry if it’s getting confusing – but this one is good news: the 122 G&T program has been saved! The DOE has listened! Read about it here.

March 12 Update

Departure: P.S. 122
21-21 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, NY 11105

Date: Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Departure Time: 9:30am
Press Conference: 11:00am (with Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.)
Return Time: 12:30pm

Transportation: Free Private Coach Bus (to seat 100) from P.S.122
or take 4, 5 & 6 trains to Brooklyn Bridge

We all witnessed the outpouring of parents and residents at our emergency meeting last week, attended by over 650 people! Our community stood united.

The D.O.E. never reached out to our community like they are supposed to. Instead, they went ahead with their own agenda, never taking our children into consideration. We were clear last week that WE DO NOT WANT THIS CHANGE MADE TO P.S.122. Let’s ask Chancellor Walcott why we were not consulted about this plan.

Please join us at the upcoming RALLY and press conference departing from P.S. 122 to the D.O.E. Tweed Building located at 52 Chambers Streeton Thursday, March 14th, 2013 via bus or meet us there.

Please email: savedistrict30schools@yahoo.com to confirm you’ll be able to attend the rally!

I was honored yesterday to speak to a packed auditorium at my alma mater, P.S. 122 (The Mamie Fay School) in Queens. I went to middle school here in the Gifted and Talented program. The PTA held an emergency meeting because the DOE wants to make major changes that will drastically reduce G&T seats and put the school at 129% capacity in the coming years. There was an amazing turnout and the community is really infuriated about this. I’m just trying to do my part to save a program I love and that has one of the best records in the city.

Here are some pictures from last night’s event. Sorry for the poor picture quality – I didn’t have my regular camera.

Packed auditorium at 122

Packed auditorium at 122

Me speaking at the meeting

Me speaking at the meeting

If you weren’t at the meeting yesterday, they gave out a very useful information packet. Please click here to see what you can do.

For a summary of the meeting, check out this article.

3/10/13 Update:
Last week’s emergency PTA meeting at P.S. 122 brought over 700 people to the school’s auditorium. The evening’s event proved that the community is outraged at the DOE’s plans to phase out one of the best schools in the city: The Academy for the Intellectually Gifted. Although no one expected to hear a reversal of the plan, the night did demonstrate residents’ resolve to fight this plan.

This upcoming Thursday, March 14, 2013, the struggle continues. Buses will be leaving from the front of P.S. 122, at 9 A.M., and head over to the DOE’s Tweed Building (52 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007). Rally participants will be joined by Councilman Vallone who will hold a press conference in support of the entire school community.

P.S. 122 needs your presence at this rally! We need to show Chancellor Walcott that the greater Astoria community is not willing to permit one of its prized schools be destroyed. If you cannot make the 9 A.M. departure time, we hope that you can meet us on the steps of Tweed by 10 A.M. Participants are hoping to demonstrate with signs showing their love for our school and all of District 30.

Once again, please let the world know about this event. Use all means of spreading the word in order to ensure the same kind of impressive turnout as that at this previous Wednesday’s meeting!

Give your child the gift of great grades.  Order a copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

P.S. 122 Gifted Program in Danger of Closing

Please click here for the continuation of this post.

P.S. 122 - The Mamie Fay School

P.S. 122 – The Mamie Fay School

It has come to my attention that one of my alma maters is in danger of closing. It’s The Academy for the Gifted and Talented at P.S. 122 in Astoria, Queens (aka The Mamie Fay School – I never did find out who Mamie Fay was), a program I attended from sixth to eighth grade. I loved this school and all the teachers and students were wonderful. I feel I got a great education without my parents having to spend a fortune on private school. We were taking Regents exams in the eighth grade. Plus, it prepared me extremely well for the rigors of Stuyvesant High School. I feel 122 was the best school I attended – better than my high school, my college, my elementary school, etc. It was such a supportive environment.

I don’t know why they’re planning on shutting it down, but apparently they are. I think it would be a great loss for the community. To support the program, please contact one of these representatives:

Councilman Peter Vallone : 718.274-4500 [this is the corrected number]
District Leader Costas Constantinides: costa4astoria@gmail.com
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas: 718.545.3889
State Senator Michael Gianaris: 718.728.0960

3/2/13 Update: I’ve been told it’s extremely important to contact the following individuals:

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott
(212) 374-0200

Sandy Ferguson
Deputy Chief Executive for Admissions, Office of Student Enrollment
(212) 374-7636

You can also sign this petition: www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-academy-at-ps-122/

There’s also a council meeting taking place on Feb. 21st:
“Please come to February 21st Community Council Meeting at P.S. 234 to voice your concern. P.S. 234 is located at 30-15 29th St, Astoria, 11102. Also, contact your local representatives and ask them to support one of the most successful schools in the state.”

3/2/13 Update: There’s an emergency meeting coming up on Wednesday, March 6. Below is the text from the flyer.

Dear School District 30 Residents,
The Department of Education (DOE) is proposing drastic cuts to P.S. 122’s Talented and Gifted program known as “The Academy” and the addition of a zoned middle school program in the same building. The surge in enrollment and overcrowding that would result will take away resources from all P.S. 122 students.
The impact of these actions will be felt beyond the borders of P.S. 122, potentially also affecting local schools such as P.S. 85, I.S. 141, P.S. 150, P.S. 166 and P.S./I.S. 126 in an adverse way.
The impact of the DOE’s proposal will be felt beyond school walls. Many hard-working families have chosen to move to and even buy homes in School District 30 because of its successful schools. Damaging our schools will only serve to break apart our community and could potentially threaten real estate values of our respective neighborhoods.
Our community cannot sit by as our schools’ abilities to serve the needs of all our children are severely diminished. We need your help!
Please join us at the upcoming general community meeting to learn more about the DOE’s proposal, its potential impact, and how we can work to stop it.

Meeting Information
Location :
P.S. 122 (Auditorium)
21-21 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 721-6410

Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Time: 6:30 P.M.

Together, let’s protect our schools and our community!

Give your child the gift of great grades.  Order a copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!