Leading Exam Review Sessions

Occasionally, some of our tutors will have an opportunity to lead exam review sessions for courses within their discipline.  These review sessions provide a different experience in the tutor/student dynamic than any of our other types of sessions. As an exam review leader, you want to systematically address the concepts that are most likely to appear on the exam while teaching the students how to solve the problems they will see.

Tips & Guidelines for Exam Review Sessions
  • Be prepared.
  • Have students sign in using the forms provided.  If no form is in the room, create a sign-in sheet with a blank sheet of paper.  Students should print their name on the form.
  • Turn in sign-in sheet within 24 hours.  Leave in the time sheet drop box.
  • Students attending the review session will all be preparing for the same exam.
  • Do not file no-shows.  You can file a tutor report for students who attended.
  • All student-athletes enrolled in the class are invited.  Students are not required to attend unless mandated by their Academic Coordinator.
  • Locations vary based on size of group.  Most sessions will be held at the Gemmill Library – Math Building.
  • Always allow time for students to ask questions.
The key to leading a successful review session is to come prepared with a plan of attack.  The best way to accomplish this is by using an instructor provided study guide or past exams (Note: these can only be used if the instructor has made them available to the entire class).  Either of these can often be obtained in advance by contacting the tutoring staff or the Academic Coordinator of one of the students in the class.
There are times when an instructor will not provide a study guide or give access to old exams, in such cases, reviewing the syllabus for key concepts studied leading up to the exam, is a good starting point.  In rare cases when no study guide is provided and no syllabus is available, the review session leader should lean on their subject matter expertise to build a plan of attack based on contextual clues provided in individual sessions and tutor tables with students they have worked with leading up to the exam.  In any case, tutors should consider using a strategy which allows students to be active learners in the review session.  Following are two such strategies that can be considered.
Open-Ended Strategy*
The main idea behind this strategy is to get the students to actively participate in deciding what material will be reviewed in the session, then teaching them how to solve the problems they will likely see on the exam.
  1. Have individual students write down the five most important facts, theories, concepts, etc. from the material leading up to the exam.
  2. Ask students to partner up to compare their lists
  3. List all of the topics on the whiteboard/projector for everyone to see.
    • Add topics that you think were missed
    • Arrange them by order of importance
    • Discuss why these topics are important to review for this exam
  4. Working in small groups, have students generate 2-3 multiple choice questions from the topics on the list
  5. Present the generated questions to the group then answer them collectively
  6. Rewrite questions to make them exam worthy
Closed-Ended Strategy*
This strategy allows students to reduce the anxiety they may have going into an exam by helping them accurately anticipate what kind of problems they will be asked to solve.  This strategy is dependent upon have past exams to review.
  1. Review session leader should bring 8-10 questions from previous exams (if available). Include a difficult, “tricky” question in this group.
  2. Have students breakdown each question by outlining the key concepts and pieces of each problem first.  Try to avoid having them answer the questions initially to keep the focus on the origin of the problem/question.
  3. Talk the students through how each problem/question could be solved.
* Reference:  Weimer, M. (March 5, 2013). Test review sessions: A better design.  Faculty Focus.  Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/test-review-sessions-a-better-design/

7 thoughts on “Leading Exam Review Sessions

  1. steve_ida

    To prepare for an exam review it would be helpful to acces some student
    online materials, particularly for the programming classes. Can we find a way to
    do this?


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