Exam time can be a stressful period, wherever you are in the world, but it is interesting to consider how the process may differ when you have chosen to study abroad in a foreign country. John Cabot University is an American liberal arts school in Rome, Italy, and it maintains a similar academic schedule as most universities in the United States. Examinations occur during the second week of December for the fall semester and the final week of April for the spring semester. Here are some tips to help you ace your tests:
It is always preferable to start planning early, knowing the requirements for each course and studying in manageable amounts throughout the year to avoid the dreaded last minute cram session. Pay attention to hints your professors provide in class and decide how much time and effort will be needed to cover the relevant sections. Develop a study guide, writing out the main concepts and references so you can review them until they sink in.
Memory works best when you start early but learn in short bursts, testing yourself over several weeks and leaving plenty of space between each session. Spaced learning gives your brain time to process information and make connections to what you already know. Mnemonic devices are mental tricks to help you remember, such as attaching rhymes or acronyms to difficult data. For example, to remember the Italian verb “andare” (to go) you can remember the question, “and are you going to go?”
Focus and discipline
It can be difficult to concentrate on studies when there are so many interesting things happening near the university in Rome, but there are quiet study rooms available on campus and in the Guarini. The Frohring Library in the Guarini Campus is an excellent study location for John Cabot students, home to one of the best academic English language collections in Rome and an extensive variety of books, multimedia and other learning resources. The library team is exceptionally helpful in providing information services, workshops and tours to other Roman libraries.
Forming a study group can be helpful to understand difficult material but sometimes it is necessary to really focus for optimized productivity. One former philosophy student in Italy named Francesco Cirillo, developed a technique to structure his study on 35 minutes of unbroken work interspersed with 5-minute breaks. Using a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian), this method is fittingly called the “Pomodoro technique.”
After a good study session reward yourself with a walk around Rome, some ice cream at a local cafe or a cappuccino with friends. There are some perks to study in Italy! When you return to your books, test yourself with what you had previously studied to ensure you understand. Get a good rest the night before your exam and take a deep breath. Good luck, or as the Italians say “In bocca al lupo!”