General education (GEC) tests tend to involve more recall of specific information than math/science/engineering tests. As a result, the preparation strategy for these tests is different from that of your more problem oriented classes.
In order to prepare for these tests, consider the following learning principles.
- We tend to forget half of what we try to memorize within an hour. Cramming and all-nighters hurt more them they help.
- Continuous viewing of material tends to stay in our mind longer than intense studying.
- When you say things, you tend to remember them longer than when you just review those same things.
Now with these learning concepts in mind, use the following strategy to prepare for GEC tests.
- Prepare flash cards (see the topic: Making Flash Cards) continuously either during or after each classes. Keep reviewing these every day. The content on the flash cards should be embedded in your mind after a few reviews.
- When you read the book, make up one flash card per paragraph in the reading. That way you’ll be sure to read for content, and the flash cards will help you retain what you read. (see the topic: Reading for Insight)
- Three days before the exam, review the flashcards. Remove from the deck any flashcards that you don’t know. Review these at five different times during the day.
- Two days before the exam, work through old tests if you can find them. GEC tests are harder to find because each teacher can emphasize different material. Also see if your teacher provides a study guide. From these two sources of material make up new flash cards for things you don’t know.
- The day before the test organize a session of flashcard hangman (see the note attached). When you respond to questions orally, your memory retention increases. Also, the humor and reactions to missed questions can stimulate memories that help you recall information. When you work with a group, studying can become more fun.
The key to all of this is the discipline to study in advance. Preparing in advance will actually reduce your overall test preparation time.