Sometimes exam grades just don’t line up with where we think our knowledge level is at. Sometimes we earn lower grades than we think we deserve and other times we’re happily surprised by higher grades than we really think we earned. Sometimes it’s the grader being a jerk or a softy. But more often, there is something else at play.
Have you ever…
- …busted your butt studying for exams, only to show up for the test and totally blank out?
- …aced every single assignment and project running up to the final, but then run out of time in your exam and get a meager grade?
- …felt totally prepared for a final and then scanned the exam and saw a problem type you swear you’ve never seen before, losing out on nearly half of your potential exam points?
- …reviewed for a test for a couple hours, yet still walked in and aced it even without a ridiculously in-depth content understanding?
We’ve personally experienced and worked with hundreds of students who have experienced every single above situation. And we’ve felt the frustration of not earning the awesome grade that you should have earned. And—sometimes even worse—the exasperation of seeing someone earn a grade that they definitely shouldn’t have.
The difference in results from all of these scenarios is that studying is not the same as rehearsing for an exam. You can do an insane amount of studying and still botch your exam. Conversely, and sometimes with a little luck on your side, you can do a little amount of exam review and nail your exam if you know how to rehearse and effectively problem solve and hack points on an engineering exam.
Reasons to Rehearse—Not Study–for Your Next Exam Review
“Studying” isn’t as focused as rehearsing
Exam rehearsal has an ever-present goal in mind: solving problems well and efficiently on your specific exam. Studying has a much more generic goal: understand more about your course content.
If your goal is demolishing your next engineering exam, consider re-framing how to prepare for it. Instead of reviewing content, rehearse the types of problems you will see on your exam in an exam-like setting. As you go through the problems, you’ll quickly know if you need to brush up on specific elements of the content itself or tweak your problem-solving technique.
It’s easy to get off track when studying
Without a clear goal, just about anything related to your course can count as studying: highlighting your textbook, reading old homework and test solutions, reviewing your notes one boring day at a time. But none of these activities meaningfully contribute to you acing your exam. In fact, just by wasting your time doing them, you’re missing out on activities that would pump up your exam grade and content understanding.
Not only that, but if you study ad hoc, you’ll likely miss a content topic or problem type that you will see on your exam. And no one likes the unexpected. When you rehearse for your exam, you use old exams as your guide to ensure you know what to expect and how to solve those types of problems.
Test taking is a skill that is learned through practice
You can be the best at putting together an amazing, fridge-worthy assignment solution. Heck—professors might even copy your solutions for their grading guide (been there!). But if you can’t translate those skills to the exam paper, your grade won’t benefit.
Taking a test is a learned skill. You can only learn skills through dedicated practice. So, if you want to earn an amazing exam grade, you have to learn how and practice that skill in an exam-like setting and with time constraints.
If you’re still stuck studying for you next exam without a clear direction or strategy and it’s impacting your grades, it’s time to get an exam prep plan together and try your hand at exam rehearsal.
Once you have a game plan and exam rehearsal down, level up to exam slaying by learning how to hack points on any engineering exam.
Do you have a story of surprise, fly-by-night exam success? What’s your secret?