The Classic Brunette: How To Study (And Ace) Your Essay Test {Guest Post from Cristina}

Monday, November 23, 2015

How To Study (And Ace) Your Essay Test {Guest Post from Cristina}

You have to study a completely different way for essay-based tests than you would for multiple choice tests. I've taken several classes in college so far that require a blue book rather than a Scantron and they can be quite the challenge.

I'm in a class this year where we learn a whole slew of information over the course of a few weeks, and then, when given the exam, we are to answer only one question. The catch? We don't know what he's going to ask, so we have to study all of our notes. There's no multiple choice or fill in the blank, just blank lines of solitude waiting to be filled with what hopefully isn't BS (so help your grade).

I've done well on these tests, and I really credit my study tactics for this type of test. In just a few simple steps, you can be prepped and ready for your next bluebook exam!

Step 1: Rewrite Your Notes
This takes me approximately two days if I do it for two hours each day (math: 4 hours). I choose to rewrite mine by hand, but you can type them if you wish; whatever works best for your studying purposes. Make sure to write clearly and neatly, and use this time to locate any missing information. Call up some friends, use the Internet (wisely), or consult your textbook.

Step 2: Highlight
This is not just coloring. Highlight main words/phrases, so that they'll pop out at you as you study these notes. I use different colored highlighters for different things to keep everything organized!

Example: All things are made of matter
-highlight the words "all" and "matter"

Step 3: Pull-out The Main Ideas
There are two good ways to do this. Option 1 is to use notecards. Write your titles on the front and the main ideas on the back. Continue to study the notes guide you have made, but also implement using the notecards to really nail down the main points.

Option 2 is my method of choice. Next to the title, jot down the main ideas. It can be really simple; maybe just three words that can help you recall information on the subject.

Step 4: Time Yourself and Practice
Pull out some paper and set your phone timer, it's time to practice! This is a bit time-consuming, but don't fret; you don't have to write a whole essay. I like to write short, incomplete sentences that resemble something of what I really would write on the real thing. The important part is to not look at your notes and see how much you know. If you keep drawing a blank, you'll know what you need to study a bit more.

Thanks to Sami for letting me guest post on her awesome blog. You can find me over at for more college tips!




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  2. Great guest post Cristina! Last year I discovered a new note taking method that helps tech-savy students like me:! It's an online flashcard site. You can create your own set of flashcards and the site will even create study "games" to help you memorize it better. The best part is there's a mobile app too!
    -Kim :)


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