How I Survived My First Exam

It’s midterm week at Christopher Newport, and that means my worst fear is coming true: I can no longer gaze happily at the unblemished list of As on Blackboard Scholar, put there by semi-easy work and simply turning in everything assigned. I am going to actually be tested on everything I have learned up to now, and I have to face the fact that I am entering one of the most dreaded weeks of college students everywhere.

However, I’m not panicking as much as I could be – and that’s because my science class had an exam last week as opposed to a midterm.

When I finally realized I was actually going to be taking my first exam of the year, my first reaction was to procrastinate and pretend it didn’t exist. I did that confidently until the following class period, when I was reminded of it and decided I really needed to get my act together. So, here are some survival tips on what to do when facing the crippling fear of an exam worth about 30 percent of your grade!

  1. DON’T procrastinate. I started out failing on this particular account, but I still ended up devoting a large amount of my time to readying myself, starting about a week in advance.
  2. DO read the textbook. I never did this in high school, but it’s a whole different story in college. This particular class didn’t even require the textbook and never assigned readings. On my own accord, I asked the professor which chapters correlated to the presentations and went ahead and read them through. This helped solidify what I’d learned in class and even gave me further detail on topics we hadn’t spent much time on.
  3. DON’T assume the lectures prepare you for everything. Even after taking and reviewing notes on the lectures, I knew I was going to struggle since science had always been a difficult subject for me. Because of this, I made notecards for every new term we learned, along with some for every concept we dealt with. Between studying these everyday and taking the self-tests in the textbook, I found that I became far more comfortable with the lecture material and how the topics interacted with each other.
  4. DO use outside resources. You’ll be told this time and time again, but go to office hours. When I got homework or self-test questions incorrect, I would write them down and meet with my professor to ask where I’d gone wrong and to help review the concept as a whole. If office hours are hard to get to or you’re still having a hard time mastering a topic, Christopher Newport has other great options such as free personal and group tutoring for any subject. Even if you’re working on a big paper instead of preparing for an exam, they also offer help in the form of the Writing Center.

Even though I got off to a rough start, in the end by devoting a lot of time and utilizing all my resources I managed to know most of the material on the exam and to feel confident about how I did afterwards. Thankfully my exam grade reflected how much work I put into preparing, and hopefully the same work ethic will get me through midterms!

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