Studying For A Philosophy Exam


The following tips will help you study for your exams.

Use the Study Guides given out in class.

In a note book, write down the first item on the study guide. Then go through your class notes and textbook(s) and write down the answer. If you are not sure of the answer, put a "?" by it in the margin, and ask the instructor about it. Then do the same for the rest of the items on the study guide. Use complete sentences, just as you should on the exam.

When you're finished, you'll have a list of everything you need to know for the exam.

The most important thing to do when memorizing information is...
study one item (e.g., definition, view, argument, etc.) at a time. Study an item until you can write it down from memory without looking at your notes. Only then should you go on to the next item. This will make your studying much more efficient. If instead you just read through a list of items over and over, you'll find that they get all jumbled together in your memory and that you can't remember what you read.
Overlearn the material.
Don't stop studying when you find that you can recall an item a few minutes after reading it. Keep studying even after you feel you have a pretty good grasp of the material. Recalling an item a few minutes after you have read it is very different from recalling it the next day during the test.

Study for at least a couple of hours at a time.
Don't just study in short 10-30 minute bursts. Studying one subject for several hours at a time will allow you to further engage with and understand the material.

Study with a group of classmates.
Studies show that students who study in groups tend to do better than students who do not. It's important to find a place to study that has no distractions, such as a cafe or one of the group study rooms in Dupre library, handled through their Circulation Department.

Use mnemonic devices to memorize large amounts of information.
A mnemonic device is something that helps you remember. For example, suppose you need to memorize a list of seven fruits and vegetables: carrots, avocados, bell peppers, lettuce, oranges, bok choy and celery. You might make up a word using the first letter (or first and second letters if two first letters are the same) of each item in your list: C - A - B - L - O - BC - CE. When you're studying, memorize your new word (Cablobcce). When it comes time to write down the list of seven fruits and vegetables on your exam, remembering your made up word will give you a clue to each of the items on your list. This will help you to (1) remember each item on the list, (2) make sure you don't leave an item out and (3) give you a clue if you forget one of the items on the list.

Some memorization techniques.
There a lot of different ways to memorize things. The following are some common techniques people use.

1. Flash cards.

Make up a set of flash cards with a question or word on one side and the answer on the other. Then test yourself repeatedly until you have memorized the contents of every card.
2. Copying your notes.
Some people find it helpful to write out their notes over and over until they have memorized them.
3. Forceful repetition.
Repeating items to be memorized over and over with a great deal of emotional force can help you remember them.

When taking a test ...
 Write answers in complete sentences, being as clear as you can. Unless explicitly           requested, never just give the name of a theory, argument, etc., but explain it.

Additional Resources

Ten Traps of Studying - and how to get out of them.

Ten Study Methods That Work - from Chadron State College.

Study Strategies - from Kansas State University.

Test Anxiety - numerous tips for overcoming test anxiety.