Study Tips

Study Tip #5: Test Taking Guide

Exam preparation is undeniably crucial, comprising about 75% of the effort required to succeed. However, the remaining 25%, test-taking itself, is often underestimated. Even if you’re an expert in the subject matter, without effective time and self-management during the exam, your performance may suffer. That’s where tips from Greater University Tutoring Service (GUTS) steps in, offering a comprehensive guide to enhance your test-taking abilities and ensure optimal performance

  • Before the exam, aim for comprehensive preparation: prioritize rest, eat well, consider caffeine if beneficial, mentally prepare for focused performance, and arrive early.
  • Answer every question unless there’s a penalty for incorrect answers.
  • Always come prepared with necessary materials: pens, pencils, Wiscard, calculator, etc. 
  • Avoid intense studying within 2 hours of the start of an exam as studies show it yields little benefit. Studying should occur well in advance of the exam. However, you may review formulas or key concepts just before the exam.
  • For exams requiring memorization, jot down essential facts, data, or formulas on scrap paper beforehand. This alleviates stress and allows you to focus solely on answering questions, knowing you have a reference sheet to consult during the test.
  • Ensure your answer fully addresses the question and doesn’t rely on narrow assumptions.
  • Avoid overthinking and assuming questions are deceptive; take them at face value.
  • If stuck between two choices, outline reasons for each to determine the better option.
  • Trust your gut when unable to decide between alternatives; feelings often indicate the correct answer, even when recall is poor.
  • Start by tackling the questions you’re certain about, then move on to the more challenging or time-consuming ones.
  • If you know the answer, make it easier for instructors who will be grading by writing as concisely as possible while fully answering the question. 
  • If you don’t know the answer, write as much as possible. Anything you know about the question or topic should go on that paper.
  • Some Test Anxiety is Natural
  • Reframe Test Anxiety as Excitement
  • Shift Your Perspective
    • Evaluate the significance of the test. Unless your entire degree hinges on a single exam, it’s likely that you can recover from any setbacks resulting from a less-than-ideal performance.
  • Utilize Breathing Techniques During the Exam
    • Maintain control over your breathing to manage anxiety symptoms effectively.
    • Focus on diaphragmatic breathing rather than chest breathing, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
    • Experiment with techniques like the 4-7-8 or 7-11 method. The former involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 7, and exhaling for 8. The latter entails inhaling for 7 seconds, exhaling for 11, and repeating the cycle.
  • Seek Professional Help, if Necessary
    • Working with a mental health professional can help you examine and work through your test anxiety.
    • UHS Mental Health Services provides free individual, group, and drop-in style (called Let’s Talk) counseling.

Study Tip #4: Exam Preparation Guide

Finals are about to begin in a month’s time. Thus, GUTS has prepared a comprehensive exam prep guide. Use this guide to ace your exams.


  • Start preparing ASAP, ideally one week before for a 3-credit class, 8 days for a 4-credit class, and 10 days for a 5-credit class.
  • Divide study material into manageable chunks with specific timeframes for each section.
  • Allocate time for review sessions closer to the exam date to consolidate understanding and reinforce key concepts.
  • Experiment with study timings to find peak productivity, tracking associated parameters.
  •  Quiet Places
    • Law Library, Geography Library, Wisconsin Historical Society Library
  •  Moderate Noise Places
    • Merit Library, Discovery Building, Microbial Sciences
  •  Social Places
    • College Library, Union South, Memorial Union, SAC


  • Review the Topics First
    • Before studying intensively, review course materials broadly to grasp the scope. This helps in effective prioritization and focus during study sessions.
  • Explain the Topic to Someone
    • Teaching others reinforces understanding; explain learned material to a partner and revise based on their questions. This iterative process deepens comprehension.
  • Solve as Many Questions as You Can
    • Active problem-solving enhances studying by tackling practice questions, quizzes, or past papers.
    • Analyze mistakes to refine understanding and focus on conceptual application.
    • Engage in group discussions for deeper insights and collaborative learning.

Study Tip #3: Feynman’s Technique to become the master of the subject

Richard Feynman, a renowned physicist and Nobel laureate, often humbly remarked, “I was an ordinary person who studied hard.” Let’s explore his approach to mastering content!

Jot down everything you know about the subject you’re aiming to grasp. As you delve into the topic and acquire new insights, keep adding them to your sheet. You can make this as visual as possible.

Teach the concept to someone else or an imaginary audience using simplified language so that a child could understand. This may reveal some gaps in your understanding.

Study again, but this focus on the gaps discovered in the step 2. Study till you fill these gaps and turn these gaps into a filled concrete foundation!

Practice explaining your simplified concept to someone else to check if you understand it well. Pay attention to any questions they ask or where they seem confused. Keep refining your explanation until you’re confident in your understanding.