What's on the test?

Focused studying requires knowing what will be tested.

Here's what you do:

  1. Ask the prof

    The people who ask what's on the test aren't brown-nosers. (Well, not necessarily, anyway.) It's just plain smart to find out what the prof is trying to test you on. So if you don't want to ask in class, ask after class, but do it at least 2 weeks before the exam.

    You want to know:

    • what lectures and readings are fair game
    • what type of questions will be asked (multiple choice, short answer, essay)
    • what type of knowledge will be asked for (dates, analysis of texts’ major arguments?)
    • if the formulas are provided
    • if it is open note or open book
    • how much time you'll be given to write it


  2. Look at your Syllabus/Class Outline

    To determine what'll be on the test, you can also look at the Learning Outcomes found in your syllabus (class outline) to identify what the professor is trying to teach you.

    • note the balance of topics in the outline and the proportion of each to the whole

    • combine that with your estimation of your understanding of each topic, to determine what the balance of your studying should be focused on





This information is compiled from ten years of exam-writing experience, and from bits and pieces of How to Become a Straight A Student by Cal Newport.