Studying for an exam can be a nail-biting ordeal. However, foreign languages require a slightly different approach than many other subjects. Here are some tips that will help you score higher on your next test. Many of the tips can be applied to other fields of study as well.
Prepare Well in Advance
Don't procrastinate until the night before a test to crack open your notes and textbooks. Careful preparation can save last-minute anxiety and pressure.
Even if you have a good command of English sentence structure and rules, you should purchase a comprehensive grammar textbook. An excellent knowledge of your own language will make any foreign tongue easier to learn.
Whether you find it on the internet or in a library, make sure that you have access to some foreign language prose. Short stories in parallel translation are an excellent choice. Spend a few minutes every day reading. Be sure to say each word aloud or whisper the words as you speak. This will reinforce foreign language speech patterns.
Familiarize yourself with the pronunciation and syllable emphasis of unknown words. To accomplish this, you must have a high-quality foreign language dictionary.
Whenever you encounter unfamiliar lesson material, skim through it and make mental note of new grammatical concepts and vocabulary. Then go through it again, slowly and comprehensively.
Prepare your written assignments as soon as you receive them. The time interval between preparation and due date will allow you to reflect on what you have done, making corrections and revisions, and thereby receiving a higher mark.
If you are experiencing difficulty with specific words or phrases, develop a mental-image jogger. For example, if you cannot remember that the German word for 'crow' (die Krähe) is feminine, think of a big black crow with large red lips and curly blonde hair. The more outrageous the image, the more likely you will be to remember the material.
Try preparing your own self-quizzes. The entire process is educational, and will quickly reinforce your learning.
Save every piece of paper handed out in class. What seems inconsequential at first may later prove to be of great value.
Capitalize on Empty Time
How much time do you spend watching television? Every hour of North American TV contains about 20 minutes of commercials. Don't raid the fridge or daydream during commercial breaks - study! Amazingly, your brain will correlate these sandwiched breaks with material you are watching on the tube, and your learning will progress - even during the 40 minutes per hour of viewing time.
If you spend more than a few minutes every day on bus or subway commutes, be sure to take along some study notes. Even in 'standing room only' you can often accomplish a few minutes of effective studying with a clipboard and a few pages of vocabulary printouts.
Forget the Last-Minute Rush
Ensure that your notes are always up-to-date. Spending a few minutes daily hitting the books is much more effective than last-minute cramming. Not only will you be less stressed, but the knowledge is more likely to remain with you over the long term.
Reviewing notes just before bedtime works well. Your brain is adept at collating, correlating, and filing while you sleep.
24 Hours Before the Examination
The night before your exam, go to bed on time and get a good sleep. If you have some information rolling around in your head that is likely to keep you awake, jot it down and review it the following morning.
Just before you write your exam, eat a light meal that has a good combination of carbohydrates (for immediate brain glucose) and protein (for delayed glucose release). Try something like a whole-grain bagel with ham accompanied by a piece of fresh fruit. Go easy on the coffee and soda. A full bladder during an exam can be uncomfortable and extremely distracting. (Don't forget to use the restroom before sitting down at your desk!)
Get organized - right now - and you will be rewarded with higher marks on your next quiz or test.
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