There is an old saying which holds that the more things change, the more they stay the same; in the case of education, this is especially true. Ever since the first student entered a classroom, there has been a dilemma for those students- the taking of exams. Taking exams has its share of drawbacks for both the student and the teacher, including the facts that many exams do not accurately reflect the subject matter that makes up the exam questions and that exams cause a great deal of anxiety (Kussmaul, 2005).
The constant threat of cheating on exams is also a difficult challenge for teachers to face (The Daily Mail, 2006). For the purposes of this research, the focus will be on the viewpoint of the student; more specifically, what can be done to prepare for and take exams. Once an effective system to prepare for and take exams is embraced by a student, the performance of the student has been proven to increase as does the level of self esteem and comfort of the student, which is a highly beneficial situation overall (Dembo, 2000).
Preparing for an Exam Proper preparation for exams is essential in order to not only learn the material for the taking of the exam, but also in an effort to prepare the mind of the individual for the actual taking of the exam. The natural reaction of many students when faced with having to take an exam is one of sheer panic for a variety of reasons.
On the most complicated level of the human mind, many people have a basic instinct that provides a natural fear of failure and in their minds, a connection is made between the upcoming exam and the very real possibility that they will fail the exam, which could result in depression, lowering of self esteem, and a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy as the fear of failure becomes so acute that the individual fails not due to a lack of knowledge of the subject on which the exam is based, but due to a shutting off of the mind so to speak due to fear and apprehension (Cheung, 2000).
Therefore, preparation is essential for a successful exam experience. Depending on the source reviewed, there are endless recommendations that exist for the proper preparation for exams. The preparation mechanism which seems to best incorporate many useful aspects is the development of an overall study plan. This plan consists of several parts: first, the student should gain an overall idea of what may be covered on an exam. Course syllabi, lecture notes and the text of the course are great sources and it should be noted that even though material is not emphasized by the instructor, it may very well be part of the exam.
Additional parts of the study plan include a time management element to avoid the wasting of time and the problems of last-minute cramming and the development of study groups with other students which will allow for access to a variety of lecture notes, points of view and the like. Additionally, different students typically have expertise in different topic areas, so the gathering of students creates a massive collection of knowledge in one place (Scheele, 2005).
To sum up the preparation for exam taking, having a favorable exam experience not only will greatly help in the achieving of successful test scores, but also contribute to a better overall educational experience, which experts have shown will enrich the life of the student (Cheung, 2000). This fact links proper preparation for exams to the proper taking of exams, which will now be discussed. Taking Exams When the day comes to take an exam, the preparation will pay dividends for the student; however, there are still some steps that are important in taking the exam itself.
Perhaps one of the most important ingredients in a productive exam taking exercise is the regulation of one’s own emotions. Emotional control will lead to effective use of exam time, a sharper focus on the material, and the ability to arrive at the correct answers to questions, especially when the exam requires such things as mathematical calculations (Schutz & Davis, 2000). In short, if the mind and emotions are in control, the exam taker can control the exam process, and not the opposite. Conclusion
While there is no iron-clad way to prepare for and take exams that guarantees success, being ready for an exam and doing the proper things when taking the exam will place the odds of productive exam taking in the favor of the student. Different approaches were presented in this research, but there are endless other possible approaches that exist. Therefore, in conclusion, perhaps the most important thing to be learned is that the student needs to find the methods that work best for them and use them to their highest potential, which will lead to the best overall results.
References Cheung, C. (2000). Studying as a Source of Life Satisfaction among University Students. College Student Journal, 34(1), 79. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from EBSCO database: http://www. ebsco. com Dembo, M. H. (2000). Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success A Self-Management Approach. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Exam Cheats May Face Electronic Security Checks. (2006, December 5). The Daily Mail (London, England), p. 17. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from EBSCO database: http://www.
ebsco. com Kussmaul, D. L. (2005, March). The Test-Taking Time of Year. School Administrator, 62, 45. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from Proquest database: http://www. proquest. com Scheele, A. M. (2005). Launch Your Career in College: Strategies for Students, Educators, and Parents. Westport, CT: Praeger. Schutz, P. A. , & Davis, H. A. (2000). Emotions and Self-Regulation During Test Taking. Educational Psychologist, 35(4), 243-256. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from Proquest database: http://www. proquest. com