As we seek to develop our skills in any activity—from cooking gourmet meals, to playing a musical instrument, to running half-marathons—we can experience a great deal of improvement by applying time-tested techniques and adopting experts’ best practices. However, we’re still likely to encounter snags, difficulties, and challenges that hinder us from performing at the level of accomplishment we hope to achieve. That’s why it is often helpful to take a step back, observe what we’ve been doing, and make corrections where need be. In this way, we come to realize that we can learn a great deal from our mistakes, bad habits, and oversights.

So it is with study skills. Even the most dedicated students can believe they’re doing all the right things, yet they may never take the time to reflect on their study habits and evaluate what’s working for them… and what’s not. If they don’t take this step every so often, they miss an ideal opportunity to improve their skills and reach levels of achievement that bring about greater confidence and success.

In the Instructor’s Manual for Orientation to College Learning, Seventh Edition, Dianna L. Van Blerkom includes an activity that prompts students to think through the steps and strategies they use to ready for tests—and then re-evaluate the success of those strategies once they’ve received back their graded assignments. Before your next examination, encourage your students to ask themselves these questions and consider the areas they might want to refine when studying for future tests.


Activity 10-6: Evaluate Your Study Strategies

Evaluate the study strategies that you use to prepare for your next exam.

1. List the study strategies you used to prepare for your exam.

2. When you finish your preparation, evaluate the effectiveness of each of the strategies.

3. After you finish taking your exam, evaluate the effectiveness of each of the strategies.

4. After your exam is returned, evaluate the effectiveness of each of the strategies.

5. What changes do you plan to make when you prepare for your next exam? (p. 186)


Reference: Van Blerkom, D.L. 2013. Instructor’s Manual for Orientation to College Learning, 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Do you have a set of test-taking strategies you encourage students to adopt? Share your ideas below. 


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