Review Methods

There are many different ways to review material throughout the semester. Listed below are three methods as suggested by David Ellis in his book Becoming a Master Student (2001).

Daily reviews -- Just like it says, review on a daily basis. Take five to ten minutes before AND after class to review lecture notes.  You can do this on your walk to and from classes everyday, while doing laundry or waiting in line for coffee. Concentrate these reviews on two kinds of material: what you've just learned in class or reading assignments, and material that's easy to memorize, like equations, dates and definitions.

Weekly reviews -- This review takes about an hour for each subject.  Avoid marathon reviews or back-to-back reviewing; try to schedule short breaks between reviews and don't switch subjects too quickly. Review your reading and lecture notes during these reviews. Complex material requires more time than material that is easy for you to study. Remember to study the difficult material first or during your best time of day. Don't save the worst for last--try saving your favorite subject for last as a reward for studying the hard stuff first.

Major reviews -- Use this type of review to prepare for finals or other major exams. The review is longer, usually two to five hours per subject. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of your review tends to drop after an hour or so of studying, so be sure to take sufficient breaks. If you continue longer than five hours, small breaks won't be enough. If your concentration is dwindling, it's time to stop. Know your limits before you start studying and monitor your concentration while you are studying.  If you're just going through the motions, but not remembering what you're covering, try switching subjects, taking a break or going back to the material later.

Study groups -- Studying in groups can be a great way to share ideas and review areas you may not have considered. If study groups appeal to you, be sure to surround yourself with people who want to do well in the class. Once your study group is formed, try any of the following methods (Ellis, 2001) when preparing for quizzes and exams.

  • Test each other by asking questions.
  • Practice teaching each other.
  • Compare notes.
  • Brainstorm test questions.
  • Create wall-sized mind maps to summarize a textbook or series of lectures.

For specific reference information, see Study Strategies page.

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