Preparing for Exams
Although I titled this chapter "Preparing for Exams," an alternative title could be "Studying." All of the self-management processes discussed thus far are factors that can be used to plan and implement more effective study sessions ( Zimmerman, 1998a). For example, to self-manage academic studying, students must determine whether they will study and deal with the potential distractions and anxiety interfering with studying (motivation), plan how much time to spend studying (time management), determine how to study (methods of learning), select or create effective environments for study (physical environment), and ask instructors and other students to assist in learning (social environment).
Early in a term, most instructors remind students of a scheduled exam. It is not uncommon for many students to think: "Already ... the class just started!" If you were to listen in on a conversation about exam preparation, you might hear the following: One student mentions she will set aside next Sunday to study, the day before the exam; a second student mentions that he began studying last week; a third student asks about organizing a study group. When the students begin talking about what material to study, one student remarks he only plans to study his notes because he heard that the instructor stresses lecture notes over textbook readings; a second student states she hopes much of the test comes from the textbook because she did not take many notes and has difficulty understanding the notes she took; a third student mentions she plans to review the summary section of each chapter of the book and read through her notes a few times.
Students use a variety of study strategies for exam preparation. These strategies lead to different levels of success. In general, it is difficult to become