Used to assess your cumulative knowledge from an entire program of study, a capstone test is usually administered in a final course or internship of an academic major. A capstone test is a way for faculty to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a student, but it can also serve as the final approval for graduation. With a combination of multiple choice and essay questions, a capstone test is usually delivered in an online format.
Begin at the Beginning
The most effective way to study for a capstone test is to work hard as a student throughout your academic program. It is almost impossible to cram for a capstone exam, as you need to be a dedicated student from the beginning. If you feel deficient in a particular academic area, take the time to engage in supplemental learning to more effectively master the content.
Take Effective Notes
It’s easy to daydream in class, but preparing for a capstone test requires diligent note taking. Summarize the main points of the lecture, but listen to how your professor emphasizes certain concepts. Often, test questions become clear from what is most discussed in class.
After class, rewrite your notes to solidify the material. Keep a file for each class that includes your class notes so you’ll be organized when it comes time to study for your capstone exam.
Review the Textbook Material
In addition to the lecture material, it’s important to read and review the content in your textbooks. Create a coding system that will allow you to tie class notes directly to the material in the textbook. You can even make charts and write comprehensive notes that include both the lecture and textbook material. You’ll be ready to go for your capstone test study session if you’re organized from the beginning.
Consider the Material Covered in a Capstone Test
There are a wide variety of approaches to a capstone test. Some programs will provide an outline of possible questions, and others will ask students to write their own questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your adviser or professor about what to expect on a capstone exam. A one-on-one conversation may increase the likelihood that you’ll glean some hints about the content that will be covered.
Form a Study Group
Scout out your class and look for the brightest students that you can find. Ask them if they’ll be a part of a regular study group. Studying together will help you learn more about what other students found most important in the lectures and textbook. If there’s something that you don’t understand, a study group can often explain concepts in a new and accessible way.
Create Study Flashcards
Once you have a handle on the most important topics that will be covered on the capstone test, create a large set of flashcards. Use the flashcards to study on your own. You can even carry them with you to use for a few minutes between classes or while you’re eating lunch.
Preparing for the Day of the Capstone Test
Don’t stay up all night and cram before a capstone exam. It’s important to be well rested, to eat a meal and to even get some exercise before you sit for a long test. Resist the urge to study all day before you take the test. Instead, a quick review of your flashcards and a confident state of mind will set you up for success.
Managing Test Day
Be sure to get to the testing room early and choose a seat that is well lit and comfortable. Fill your mind with positive thoughts and take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves. When answering essay questions, create a brief outline first and then fill in the important information. Tackle the capstone test with confidence, but if you hit a roadblock, skip the question and move on.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.