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School internal exams and performance

  1. Oct 23, 2015 #1
    I am currently studying a-levels in physics, maths and chemistry, after a below par performance in my AS levels I am working hard to try and boost up my grades, in lessons I am all okay but once i get to an exam i seem to lose all ability and end up losing lots of marks through silly errors or mistakes, I was just wandering if anyone had any similar problems or new of any different solutions? many Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2015 #2


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    new of any solutions? haha. hard sciences aren't very forgiving of sloppy thinking. I had a similar problem as an undergraduate, I knew the material but then I'd make some stupid mistake on tests. In graduate school, it was different. I was part-time student, working full-time and only took 1 course at a time. I had the luxury of having enough time to fully study. In my undergraduate years, I had the time, but not the inclination. My solution was to 1. prepare for the lecture by reading the material using what some today call "conscious" methods - being aware of what you are doing, what you are understanding (and importantly what you are NOT understanding). 2. Active listening to the lecture (in lecture courses, which in the USA 99.9% are). Active listening is another skill - it requires the above mentioned preparation since it is much harder to hear material which is unexpected. 3. Review of lecture notes - done while still "fresh". I actually had a note-taking notebook and another I transcribed my notes into; it was almost a textbook - it contained essentially ALL the stuff I needed to know..duplicating the textbook's and the professors main points and clarifying any points not originally clear (and also noting any interesting questions that occurred to me - with follow-up answers) 4. Weekly review of my notebook, abstracting the most important points from each lecture (bullet-point-like) 5. And for tests, another review and note-taking of the material, attempting to duplicate it from memory. After all, if I knew it, then I should be able to explain it cogently on paper, right? I guess the main points here are A. it turns out test performance is related to the work you put in to the material during the entire term, not just the couple days of test prep, and if it isn't work, then you're doing it wrong. B. listening and reading are PASSIVE! To really learn the material, you have to DO problems and write stuff out (copying doesn't count for much). C. You need to validate your own learning by testing yourself prior to the written exam, the more frequently you do so, the less likely it is that the test will have material which you screw up. This all requires discipline and self-awareness. You got to know when your understanding is fuzzy- and then fix it. The other thing that really helped me is using more than one text book to read the same material, especially the stuff I wasn't "getting". For the classes you aren't excelling in, I'd strongly recommend you go to your library and check-out a couple at about the same level (sometimes you can get loaner copies from the professors, often times they have shelves full of "free" text books...) and once you find one that you like, buy it (used, on-line, cheap, hopefully). If I had to sum this all up in one sentence, it would be: You must actively participate in your own learning. As far as misreading the test problems, you need to take more time to question whether or not there are alternative interpretations of what is stated. There almost always are, so what are they and which is most likely to be the correct interpretation? (and if you don't understand why that problem is being posed, what the material is it is intended to test you on, then you haven't mastered that material, no matter how proficient you are at cranking out solutions to a given formula).
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