Have you ever done poorly on an exam? I have.

There are two ways we can respond when this happens: have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

Several studies show that students who have a fixed mindset and do not change their study strategies tend to have lower grades. People with a more optimistic mindset who examine what went wrong on the first exam and improve their study techniques receive better grades.

The First Exam

The best way to study for a class is based on the first exam. That test reveals how the professor views the relationship between class material and questions on the exam.

After you finish your first exam, ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What did I miss? What kind of questions were you not prepared for? What type of material did you miss in your review?
  2. What did I do right? What study strategies served you well on the exam?
  3. What was a waste of time? What strategies did not help?

Next, layout the modified study system that you will follow for the rest of the semester based on your answers to the above questions. Then identify the most efficient habit you could add to your study toolkit that would fill in the areas you missed on the exam.

Trust Yourself

Finishing one exam makes refining your study tactics a lot easier. It is hard to guess how to study at the beginning of a class, but once you have some “feedback,” you can get specific.

So, let the first exam guide you. Learn from it, and the rest of the semester will go smoothly.

What do you think of this post-exam strategy? Let me know in the comments below!