After the Exam

Spend some time reviewing your exam so that you know where and how you made mistakes! It’s too easy to put your exam in a drawer (or trash can!) and never look at it again.  Please don’t! You can learn a good deal from reviewing your exam carefully.  

Start by looking at every question to figure out what you missed and why.  Knowing this can help you unearth some basic problems that will continue to plague you until they’re identified and overcome.  For each item you missed, try to determine the problem:

  • Is it in your notes? You may have to adopt different study strategies if you miss information that was in your notes.
  • Is it NOT in your notes?  You may have a note-taking problem if you’re not taking down important points from class or reading.
  • Do you know the information or how to solve the problem but you miss points due to careless mistakes?  Perhaps you need to slow down and work more carefully.
  • Do you freeze up whenever there are multiple correct answers and you must choose the best one? Maybe you aren't learning the material at the same level the professor expects.  Perhaps the learning objectives (or a visit with the professor) will help you determine the depth of knowledge you need.
  • Are you missing questions that are based on pre-requisite material (that you never really learned well)?  You may need to spend some of your study time brushing up on those previous topics and applying them to this new information.

All of these tendencies can be corrected, but only if you’re aware of them! 

Next, try re-taking the exam.  Once you've learned the correct solutions and why you missed them initially, cover up the answers and repeat the process.  Just like your test rehearsal, set your timer and see if you can do the exam perfectly in the allotted time.  If so, you've made some progress since this information will likely come up again in another unit and you need to be sure you've mastered it before moving on.

Lastly, remember that your instructors, TAs, and ULAs are there to help you master the information.  if you have any questions at all, it's time to visit office hours and/or the help rooms!  If you’re given learning objectives, it’s fair for your to ask the professor to help you see how those objectives relate to the test questions.  The professor can help you determine the disconnect between your knowledge of the subject and your test performance and often can suggest the best ways to study.