6 Tips for Better Online Learning: Preparing for Exams

Spring semester is underway and it is only a matter of time until you find yourself preparing for exams. Worry not, you are going to survive this dark time. Still have your doubts? Here are 6 tips for preparing for your exams, so you can be certain that you will come out on top. Hey, maybe you will find that it wasn’t such a dark time afterall.

Top view of male and female university students studying

Image: bigstockphoto.com

1. Get organised early

If you’ve been taking notes throughout your course, getting organised should be easy. Collect all of your notes and materials, and organise everything according to course chapters and units. This way, once you start studying, you won’t lose time searching through the materials.

Also, it is important to make sure you have paid close attention to the course announcements and instructor emails. This is how you will learn about the exam format and important dates. Know what to expect from the format of the exam (i.e. multiple choice or open essay) and avoid any unwanted surprises. Put the exam time and duration in your calendar, so you don’t miss out. Lastly, have a clear idea of what exactly is expected from your exam – what are the central learning outcomes the instructor wants to test? In other words, don’t lose too much time and energy focusing on the less important material.

2. Create a study timeline

Perhaps it goes without saying, but its essential to review your materials. Even if you have participated in all of the units and chapters, you will not remember all of the new information after encountering it only once. Sound overwhelming? Break it into digestible steps. Create a study timeline so that you, for example, review only one chapter each day. Then you can review the material without feeling overwhelmed or burdened. And don’t forget: a major perk of MOOCs is that you can always revisit video lectures and browse the discussion forums – take advantage of it!

3. Make outlines and flashcards

Depending on the course, creating an outline or using flashcards can make your life a lot easier. If the exams expects you to apply more conceptual information, like connecting various ideas you learned in the course, building your own insights or understanding complex theories, making an outline can help you put everything together in a clear and uncomplicated manner. Not a fan of pen and paper? Workflowy is an online program and app that can help you keep your outline simple.

When the exam expects you to remember lots of new terminology, facts and figures, flashcards can help you memorise a large amount of information. As you go through your notes and revisit course chapter, make a flashcard for every important term you encounter as you go. But writing out flashcards can take time: Evernote Peek, Chegg Flashcards and STUDYBLUE are some helpful, free flashcard apps you should check out.

4. Take a practice exam

Ok, so you’ve reviewed all of the course material and notes, practiced your flashcards and created your outline, but you are afraid of panicking and blacking out once the exam begins. A good way to avoid this from happening is to create a little practice exam. Create a short mock-up exam and test yourself. This can help you be more relaxed once the big exam day comes.

5. Study with your classmates

Two heads are better than one, fours eyes are better than two… hmm, you get the idea. One of the best ways remember material is to discuss it. Find out other ideas, information you might have missed and totally new insights about the material through exchange. Invite your fellow MOOCers to create a virtual study group in the “Meetup” section of the course discussion forum, or invite people in your area to meet through Meetups Everywhere.

6. Take the subject a step further

Finally, taking course material beyond what’s expected of you can make you stick out from the rest. This means exploring a topic that the course did not fully address, only briefly mentioned or was found in the recommended extra material. Of course, this is not required, but it has a few benefits. For one, it can help you take the material to a deeper level, making the basic information even easier to remember and apply. For two, you have the chance to take the material into a direction that interests you most. Afterall, education should also be about exploring what you want to learn!

We hope this helps you out when your MOOCs come to a close. Good luck on your future exams, iversitarians!

Share this post: