How to prepare an exam in a scientific subject in two weeks

Studying regurarly during the term is, of course, the best way to learn prop- erly the subjects.
However, it may happen that you have overlooked a subject, for several rea- sons, including sports, business, family issues, laziness, etc. If the exam is scheduled after two weeks, you will probably think you have no chance to take the maximum grade. This is false, at least, if the exam is on a scien- tific subject (I am thinking Physics and Chemistry in particular). You can surprise yourself, if you organize your time effectively:


  1. Choose one textbook among those recommended by the professor, pos- sibly ask someone who has already taken the exam. You do not have enough time to study the same topics from many different books.

  3. Identify which chapters of the book are to be studied and make a timetable to read them within 5 days.

  5. While reading make sure you understand the general concepts, do not hurry.

  7. after 3-4 paragraphs write the formulas and their derivations, even copying from the book, if it is necessary.

  9. If something is too long and technical, firstly read it without paying attention on all the mathematical steps.

  11. Try to keep concentrate for 2 hours or more, then take a 20-30 min- utes break after 2 hours or more; do not interrupt frequently for short periods.

  13. At the end of one chapter look at the exercises with solution on the text and redo them. Try also to solve some exercises at the end of the chapter. At this step, it is not important that you write them neatly.

  15. When you have finished reading the chapters planned for that day, read from the notes of the professor, if any. They will help you to focus on the key things.

  17. From the second day, after studying the new topics, do few exercises about the previous ones.

  1. After you have finished to study, it is time to look at the past exam papers. You will note that there are limited number of types of ex- ercises. Probably there are many specific formulas for each exercise. To Try to remember all of them may be confusing, even because they are valid only under special conditions. It is much better if you select very few basic equations per each topic to solve related exercises. Some solutions will result longer, but, in this way:• you will significantly reduce the risk to make conceptual errors; • you will be able to solve even new different exercises;
    • you do not overload your memory.The previous preparatory studies were finalized to make you able to detect which formulas are basic and to familiarize with the calculations that you have to do in exercises.
    Firstly, make you able to solve almost all the types of exercises. Then, try to write them properly.

  3. The week before the exam is time to simulate it using the past papers. Simulations are useful not only to test your level of understanding, but also to calibrate the time you should spend on each exercise. Do one full simulation per day, at least for 4 days; after simulations do other exercises, if you need.

  5. The day before the exam do not overstudy, do just a quick revision and go to sleep early.

  7. Finally it is time to do the exam. Do not panic, it can only make things worse. Do not worry about the grade, just do your best. Good luck!

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Additional resources:

Why Is Understanding Science Important?
How to Memorise Formulae: Maths and Science Exams
10 Reasons to Study Science

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