How to Study for Content Driven Exams

Studying for Content Driven Exams

Content driven exams are exams that focus on material that has been covered in a class or a program. Unlike aptitude exams, content driven exams are not measuring what you can learn, but what you have learned. These exams are often called achievement exams because the measure what you have achieved, not what you can achieve. Fortunately, studying for content driven exams is much easier than studying for an aptitude exam.  More on the difference between Aptitude and Achievement Exams.

Study Tips
There are several techniques used to study for a content driven exam. Among those, the most common are:

Memorization. Memorization is a great way to ensure you know all of the information for exams in subjects like history and science. Those subjects often require names, dates, terms and facts that can be memorized. The downside to memorization is a tendency to forget the information after the exam, which may present a problem if you are taking a comprehensive midterm or final exam where the information may appear again. See our Posts on How to Memorize.

Mnemonics. Memorization can be aided with mnemonics, which include rhymes, acronyms and associations.  See our post on Using Mnemonics

Rhymes –  You can use standard, common rhymes or rhymes that you make up. A common example is, “I before E, except after C.”

Acronyms and acrostics – These involve making words or simple sentences using the first letter of each word of the information to be remembered. A famous example is ROY G. BIV, where the letters represent the order of the colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Associations – It is often easier to remember information if you can associate the information with something already familiar to you. An example is remembering the direction of stalactites and stalagmites by remembering that c is for ceiling and g is for ground.

Chunking. Break information into chunks. Rather than trying to study all of the material at once, study chunks of information each day. It is much easier to absorb or memorize the content in small amounts than if it is in one large piece. Once you know each part, you need only to review the larger piece.

Flash cards. Use flash cards for important information. Write the question on one side and the answer on the other. Shuffle the cards, pick one out and try to answer it. Rather than trying to learn every single piece of information, flash cards allow you to focus on the most important details.   See our post on Using Flash Cards.

Do not procrastinate.
Waiting until the last minute to study puts you in the position of needing to cram before the exam. Even when using memorization and mnemonics, you need time to put those techniques into place. Allow yourself plenty of time prior to the exam for studying, and try to study every day.  More on Procrastination and here.

Common Content Exams are most Certification Exams and High School and Middle School Tests.

Content driven exams measure how well you have learned information that has been presented to you in some way. Studying for these exams requires learning the information in such a way that you can recall it for the exam. Breaking the information down and focusing on the most important parts will allow you to absorb the knowledge required to pass.

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Modified: September 26th, 2017
Published: January 17th, 2007

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