We’ve all felt unprepared for a test at one point or another in our academic careers. It’s an awful feeling. You didn’t quite put in the time you needed to learn the material and now you have a test in front of you that might as well be in another language.
To compensate, often times we feel we need to study too much. From my experience, this can be just as harmful as not studying enough. The first negative effect of overstudying is the misallocation of time. We all have a lot of classes that require attention at the same time.
Also, it’s important for mental health that you don’t bury your head in books and that you actually go out and have some fun once in awhile. Thus, it’s good to create a schedule before studying for a big exam. Maybe two hours each of the three days before the exam will do the trick. The best way to find what is right for you is trial and error.
Another effect of over-studying is too much information in your head right before the exam. We’ve all gotten to an exam and been so overloaded with information that we lose track of the specifics and get confused. Find a healthy medium when it comes down to how much content needs to be reviewed over and over. Odds are if you have paid attention in class you already have the information in your head and you don’t need to go over everything in excruciating detail. Perhaps just reread through your notes once or twice and then do practice questions. Practice questions are one of the best and most effective ways to prepare.
Don’t freak yourself out by the importance of any one exam. RELAX. The hour or so before the exam doesn’t need to be when you reread your notes for the fifteenth time, it should be a time to make sure you’re calm and confident. Listen to some music or watch TV, whatever gets you to be comfortable. Find the amount of studying time that is right for you, stick to it and go in to every exam as confident as can be.