Miami Law Academic Achievement Program

Exam Tips, Techniques, Strategies and Suggestions

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Generated by Academic Achievement Program Dean's Fellows:

  • Read materials -- class, semester reading, etc. Read it ALL!
  • Read directions on test.
  • If handwriting exams, skip lines, write on only one side of page -- if ok with the professor.
  • Outline exam answers; pick out issues during reading of exam and make a list of issues.
  • Answer the question ASKED.
  • Timing -- write a note to yourself at the end of each Q, telling yourself what time you need to be finished with that Q so you don't get behind.
  • But leave a "buffer" so you don't cut it too close on time.
  • First answer Qs worth the most points, if possible.
  • Read the entire exam before starting to write, so you don't miss seeing and answering any questions.
  • Make a checklist as you spot issues so you can see what's missing and know what you need to focus on.
  • Don't assume anything.
  • Don't take the easy way out -- analyze both sides of all issues.
  • Pretend it's real -- pretend you're representing the client. Think about WHY we'll "win" and what obstacles we'll need to overcome -- and share that with your reader.
  • Don't take the reader's knowledge for granted.
  • Explain WHY it matters. Assume the reader has never seen this Q before.
  • Get as much info down, but make sure it's relevant.
  • Get old exams. Work through them with your biggest critic (classmate).
  • Use case names sparingly. Only use them when they really apply. Focus on analysis instead.
  • Don't be overly concerned with introductory sentences.
  • Abbreviate names and concepts when appropriate -- but be sure to "clue-in" your reader with an explanation of abbreviations at the beginning.
  • Learn by doing practice questions -- especially on multiple choice exams.
  • On multiple choice exams, if you get stuck on one Q, skip it and keep moving -- because usually easy ones are worth the same point value as difficult ones.
  • If you begin to freak out, ignore what others are doing around you!
  • If necessary, take a small break -- walk outside for a breath of air, to use the restroom or get some water.
  • Don't socialize on the Bricks right before an exam. You may want to avoid "de-briefing on the Bricks" after the exam, as well.
  • Don't bring "noisy" snacks or snacks wrapped in crinkly cellophane paper into an exam. Also, please, no nuts!
  • Consider earplugs. Also Kleenex.
  • Pay attention to your own personal hygiene during exam time!
  • Eat, sleep and exercise appropriately during exam time so you don't get run down and sick.
  • If you are really ill and feel you can't sit for the exam, contact the Dean of Students' office (284-4551) BEFORE exam time.
  • Know that USUALLY you cannot make up a missed exam until the course is offered again. So stay healthy.
  • The grade you earn on the exam will stay on your transcript. You cannot "erase" a grade or re-take a course to improve the grade earned.
  • Familiarize yourself with the exam classroom and dress appropriately—bring a sweatshirt, in case it's cold, but wear a t shirt underneath, in case it's not!
  • Mimic exam conditions when taking practice exams.
  • Prepare for any contingency on exam day (dead battery in car, rainstorm, no parking spaces, etc.) and have a good back up plan in place.
  • Treat exam-prep and the exam period as a "marathon," not a "sprint." You have to get to the end. Take breaks (a movie or quiet dinner after an exam) but then be prepared to get back into studying for the next exam.
  • Stay away from chemicals (always, but especially during exams). Eat responsibly and intelligently and stay hydrated.
  • Remember: Thousands of students have gone through this for hundreds of years. There's no reason you can't, too. Just take care of yourself and be as prepared as possible.
  • Remember: These are suggestions and strategies, not "mandates." Intelligently adopt those that work for you.
  • Concerns about exam taking may be shared with the Academic Achievement Program director, Joanne Harvest Koren, or with any of the Deans of Students in room 212.