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Studying and Taking Exams

Memory Strategies 

Memory strategies highlight relationships between ideas and make content meaningful. 

Association Strategies 

  • Create examples. Write scenarios and case studies to apply key concepts. Creating examples requires processing, which helps you learn. Personal examples help you connect with content. 

  • Get creative. Make an image, rhyme, song, or gesture that captures what you’re learning. 

  • Create mnemonics or acrostics. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species becomes “King Philip Came Over For Good Soup.” Pb is the chemical symbol for lead but it could also stand for “poisoned blood,” which helps you remember what lead is. 

  • Seek connections between ideas. We learn best by linking old knowledge with new information. Create mind maps and incorporate personal memories into your notes. 

Review and Rehearsal Strategies 

  • Recite key ideas. Use headings or flash cards and try to recall the details of each concept. Write flash cards and notes in your own words. 

  • Predict questions. Generate questions from lecture notes, texts, and study guides. Look through homework problems and try to adapt them for a test. Review learning objectives and think about how they could be featured in exam questions. 

  • Review old exams. Apply the rules of a real exam: avoid looking up answers, skip questions you don’t know and come back later, etc. 

 

Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email skills@mcmaster.ca

References 

Fleet, J., Goodchild, F., & Zajchowski, R. (2006). Learning for success: Effective strategies for students (4th ed.). Nelson. 

University of Western Ontario. (n. d.).  Effective memory strategies. https://www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/memory.html 

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