The third "R" is for Rehearsal

Just like actors and musicians who have a dress rehearsal before a performance, students need to rehearse for their performance – the test!  Even if you’re devoting the right amount of time and engaging in your learning in constructive ways, without a rehearsal you don’t know if you’re ready to perform under testing conditions.

Your exam rehearsal should be as close as possible to testing conditions.  Consider the constraints placed on you at the exam and try to mimic as many as you can for your rehearsal:

  • If you’re not allowed to leave the room during the test to go to the restroom, then don’t take a break during your rehearsal.
  • If you’re not allowed to eat or drink during the exam, then don’t do it during your rehearsal either!
  • If you’re allowed some reference materials (maybe calculator, periodic table, note card, dictionary) then use only these materials during your rehearsal.  
  • Time yourself and work in the same number of minutes you’ll have when you take the exam.  

Once you’ve completed your rehearsal, be sure to grade yourself to find your weak areas and carefully study the ones you missed just like you would after the real thing. (link to “after the exam”)

If your professor gives you access to old exams, these are perfect rehearsal materials.  Perhaps the questions at the end of the chapter are very much like your exam questions – use those for rehearsal.  If you’re part of a study group, each member of the group can make up questions for a practice exam.  Perhaps you can find another, similar text or a supplemental book that has questions you haven’t seen before in class.  Ask your professor to recommend some resources you can use to prepare for the exam.