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Tips and Tricks

Study Skills

  • How to Take Good Notes
    General Techniques:
    • Be a recorder – get down as much information as possible! You can sift through the information later.
    • Listen actively – if possible, think before your write.
    • Be open-minded – about points you disagree on. Don’t let arguing interfere with your note taking.
    • Be neat & thorough – write legibly! In downtime between topics, go back in and fill in missing information.
    • Keep notes organized and visual – show how much information is related and which are main versus supporting points. It may be helpful to follow an outline format or use a color coding system.
    • Raise questions – ask during class if possible or jot down questions in the margins to remember to ask your professor later. You will forget why you were confused when you go back to study.
    • Use a full-size notebook – a full-size notebook allows you enough space to write legibly, indent, and use an outline format. Cramming to save space will make reading notes difficult.
    • Leave blank space – as you move from one point to the next so that you can fill in additional points later if necessary and differentiate between topics.
    • Pick out key words & phrases – do not try to take down every word the lecturer says. Writing out full sentences will take too long. Listen for the main points. However, be careful not to waste time deliberating on if information is important or not. If you are unsure, take down a note anyway!
    • Listen for main points and supporting details – try to listen for the main points and the supporting details. When possible, ignore unrelated stories when your professor rambles.
    • Listen for clues – as to what is important. Does your professor repeat points for emphasis, change his or her voice, write ideas on the board, or transition from one point to the next in a certain way?
    • Use abbreviations – save time by abbreviating long words, phrases, or common terms. Use abbreviations that you will remember and clearly understand later on.
    • Copy down EVERYTHING on the board – if it’s on the board, write it down!
    • Take notes even if there is a PowerPoint – a PowerPoint is only the barest of outlines. If you rely only on a PowerPoint, you will miss 75% of the information. If you like to use the slides, print them out and fill them in with extra notes from the class.
    General Tips
    • Sit in the front – there are fewer distractions and it is easier to hear, see, and pay attention to important material. It is also easier to ask questions of your professor.
    • Write down assignments precisely – ask questions if you are not sure
    • Do reading assignments ahead of class – to familiarize yourself with the material. Note taking is much easier when you have some background knowledge on a subject and understand key vocab terms.
    • Develop your own note-taking method – including punctuation, abbreviations, margins, etc. Figure out what works for YOU! The goal is to take notes that you can understand and use!
    • Use a recording device – record your lectures if you have a hard time taking notes and listening in class. Immediately after class, listen to the lecture and take notes, pausing when you need to catch up. Always ask your professor’s permission to record first.
    Try the Cornell Note Taking System (but ultimately use what works best for you) Make a column on the left side of the page, about 2 1/2 inches wide. Here you will Reduce ideas and facts to concise jottings and summaries as cues for Reciting, Reviewing, and Reflecting. Use the remaining right side of the page to Record the lecture as fully and as meaningfully as possible The format provides the perfect opportunity for following through with the 5 R’s of note-taking. Here they are:
    1. Record. During the lecture, record in the main column as many meaningful facts and ideas as you can. Write legibly.
    2. Reduce. As soon after as possible, summarize these ideas and facts concisely in the Recall Column. Summarizing clarifies meanings and relationships, reinforces continuity, and strengthens memory. Also, it is a way of preparing for examinations gradually and well ahead of time.
    3. Recite. Now cover the column, using only your jottings in the Recall Column as cues or “flags” to help you recall, say over facts and ideas of the lecture as fully as you can, not mechanically, but in your own words and with as much appreciation of the meaning as you can. Then, uncovering your notes, verify what you have said. This procedure helps to transfer the facts and ideas of your long term memory.
    4. Reflect. Reflective students distill their opinions from their notes. They make such opinions the starting point for their own musings upon the subjects they are studying. Such musings aid them in making sense out of their courses and academic experiences by finding relationships among them. Reflective students continually label and index their experiences and ideas, put them into structures, outlines, summaries, and frames of reference. They rearrange and file them. Best of all, they have an eye for the vital-for the essential. Unless ideas are placed in categories, unless they are taken up from time to time for reexamination, they will become inert and soon forgotten.
    5. Review. If you will spend 10 minutes every week or so in a quick review of these notes, you will retain most of what you have learned, and you will be able to use your knowledge currently to greater and greater effectiveness.
    ©Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001
  • Problem Solving for Common Note-Taking Challenges
    If this…Try this.
    My professor talks too fast…
    • Use abbreviations
    • Focus on key words and phrases
    • Use shortened sentences and phrases instead of full sentences
    • Leave a space, line, or dash in places you get behind. During a break or when your professor discusses an example, go back and fill in the gaps
    • Talk to your professor after class to get missing information
    • Record the lecture and take notes later at your own pace
    • Compare notes with a classmate to see what information you missed
    My professor skips around or goes off on unrelated stories…
    • Leave plenty of space in between new ideas, main points, and key concepts so that you can go back to ideas already talked about and add more content
    • Rewrite notes for organization. Don’t simply recopy them, but rearrange them so that similar or related ideas are together
    • Color code – color code, underline, or draw shapes around related materials so that it is easy to visualize what ideas go together
    • Read ahead of class to have an idea of what is relevant material and what is not
    The lectures are on what we read in the book, so why take notes?
    • Leave space in your reading notes and take lecture notes on the same page, filling in any material that is new, different, or further explains reading notes (or vice versa)
    • Read for details and then focus on detailed explanations and examples during lecture
    The professor puts up PowerPoints so I don’t need to take notes.
    • PowerPoints only show a tiny fraction of the material you need.  Print out PP and take notes on the slides
    • Think of PP as an outline you need to fill in
    There is too much material.  I can’t figure out what is important to write down.
    • Be a recorder! Get down as much as you can and sift out what is important later on. You can never take too many notes!
    • Do assigned reading before class to increase familiarity with content
    • Listen for clues – your professor’s tone, inflection, gesture, repeated terms, and verbal cues let you know what is most important
    • Write down everything that is on the board
    • Compare notes with a classmate
    • Meet with your professor to clarify notes
    My professor is hard to hear or difficult to understand…
    • Sit in the front of the class
    • Record lectures and then take notes later on
    • Request notes from a classmate
    • Do assigned readings ahead to be familiar with important terms and ideas
    I understand better when I just sit and listen…
    • Record lectures and take notes later on
    • Taking notes can actually improve focus and concentration
    • Prepare questions to ask in class ahead of time
    • Take notes on assigned reading to minimize notes needed in class
  • Listening in Class

    Listening might be defined as the lost art of hearing and understanding what someone is saying. Each letter of the word LISTEN will guide you toward becoming a better listener.

    LOOK – Instructors are generally consistent in their order of presentation as well as what they present. The lecture usually has five main parts:

    1. Introduction: The opening statements
    2. Thesis Statement: The topic to be covered
    3. Body: Supporting evidence and information in relation to the topic
    4. Summary: What the instructor covered that day
    5. Irrelevancies: Filler or off-the-topic material

    In addition, there is usually a structure to the “body” material, perhaps it is sequential or in a chronological pattern. Your understanding from listening will improve if you can see the order and consistency in the lecture and anticipate the next topics or words.

    IDENTIFY – Identify why what the instructor is saying is important to you. You need a reason for wanting to listen or you will be unmotivated during the lecture. Do you want to learn the content? What part of it? Usually you will do well only when you intend to put effort and skill into the task. To be interested in the lecture and to understand its’ content is your responsibility. It’s up to you to get what you want out of your class.

    SET UP – Set up your situation to maximize the possibility of hearing and staying in touch with the lecture. Your eyes, ears, and brain are parts of your listening apparatus. Take steps to insure the operation of each. Be rested enough for your brain to function. If you get sleepy, bring in some orange juice or coffee. Maintain eye contact to keep listening. Block out the noise and distractions by sitting where you will be least bothered: the front row. If you can’t hear what is being said, by all means, move away from the problem — whether it be human or mechanical. TUNE IN – Learn to increase your attention span by timing just how long you can last before you think of something else. Write down the distracting thought and then set a goal a few minutes longer for the next “listening span.” When your mind does wander, write down the thought and set a time when you will deal with it. Remember the brain works approximately four times faster then you can talk so there is time for the mind to roam if you don’t have a plan. Knowing how the instructor stresses important content will help to keep tuned in. What words, visual or postural cues tell you that this information is important?

    EXAMINE – Examine the context to determine the main points. Action verbs and content nouns will help you to focus. Not all the content given in the lecture is needed. Check your syllabus and text or ask your instructor before so that you will know what topics will be covered each day. By skimming the assignment in advance you can get a feel for the facts as opposed to the main points. This will keep your ear tuned to hear the important information rather than the trivial. Use questions or phrases such as “Let’s see if I understand you” or “Is this what you mean?” to make sure you’re on the right track. When you know what you have to add later, how much is repeated and how the key content is handled, you can listen for the main points more easily. A few days of careful editing of notes will also get you geared up to know what to listen for. When in doubt, check with the instructor or the teaching assistant.

    NOTES – Taking notes while you listen will improve your concentration. The very act of taking notes may help you stay tuned in. Even if the material sounds familiar, write down a word or two to remind you of the topic was covered and to keep you listening. Once you are listening, think about how to write down the content you want.

    From Academic Skills Center, California Polytechnic State University 

  • Tips for a Better Memory
    1. Attention: Attend to the material intensely and wholly. Nothing else should enter your mind. Later, not now.
    2. Interest: Ask questions to stimulate interest. Take part or sides in the problem, issues or subjects you are reading about.
    3. Intention: Intend to remember.
    4. Believe: Trust and believe in your ability to remember. It will strengthen.
    5. Start Right: Concentrate on accurate input, not speed, at the beginning.
    6. Select: Concentrate on the most significant things, the essentials and the important. You can’t expect to get 100%, so give your most intense attention to what is new, difficult, and must be remembered.
    7. Associate: The more associations you can elicit for an idea, the more meaning it will have; the more meaningful the learning, the better one is able to remember it. People with good memories usually think over their experiences, real or vicarious, and systemically relate or associate them with previous learning.
    8. Acronyms and mnemonic sentences: Use the first letter of a group of words to create a new word (acronym) or if the order of the words matter, use the first letter of each word to form the first letter of each word in a sentence (mnemonic sentence).
    9.  
    10. Background: Build background. The more background you have on a subject, the more interest you will have and the better you can form associations and discern relationships new and old.
    11. Organization: A good memory is like a well-organized and well-maintained filing system. When a new fact presents itself and you decide to keep it, you will associate (file) it with its natural or logical group. Bunch or associate ideas, facts, or details consistent with the organization of the chapter.
    12. Recitation: Quiz or self-test yourself after every paragraph or natural break. Recite in your own words to serve a better memory and promote understanding.
    13. Notes: Take brief notes in your own words and review them often.
    14. Review: Review immediately after initial learning has taken place.
    15. Spaced review: Periodically review. If intervals between reviews are too widely spaced, more forgetting will occur.
    16. Overlearn: If you can recall it instantly, you have overlearned it. The more important and difficult the learning, the more you should over learn it.
    17. Study, then sleep: Freshly learned material is better remembered by most people after a period of sleep or mental activity than after a period of daytime activity when interference takes place.

    From:

    Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands 2011-12

    Hopper, Carolyn. Practicing College Study Skills: Strategies for Success. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1998

  • Reviewing Lecture Notes

    There are only a few tips for reviewing your notes, but they are good tips! Keep them in mind, and you’ll go far.

    • Review your notes within 24 hours. Memory experts tell us that a review of your notes shortly after taking them helps to cement the concepts in your brain, and moves them from short to long term memory.
    • Edit your notes. Reviewing notes while the information is fresh will help you to edit your notes properly. It will help to clarify confusing concepts, as well as allowing you to correct misspelled words, interpret illegible words (if your writing is particularly messy), and will help you really “own” the notes. 
    • Fill in key words on the left hand column. The Cornell Notes system, which many recommend as a great note-taking system, forces you to fill in key words on the left. If you’re not using Cornell, you may want to try this task regardless. It will make future review quick and easy.
    • Take notes in different colors. If you don’t have different pens, use a highlighter to emphasize important materials for your later reviews.
    • Use graphic signals. Signals such as brackets, stars, arrows, equal signs, etc. help in two ways. The first is that, when using them during note taking, they greatly speed up the pace at which you can take notes. Secondly, when you’re reviewing your notes, they will help group concepts, clearly demonstrate links, and provide visually stimulating information that can help cement the ideas in your brain.
  • Online Research Tips

    Although it was developed early on in our move to online courses at the start of Covid, here’s a quick video that’s full of information about what’s available to you online at the WCSU library for your next research project.  Featuring ARM Audrey Redpath, take the 6 minutes to save you a ton of time and give you a real head start on your next project.

    Tips for Online Research

  • Quick Guide to Studying for Different Types of Exams

    Multiple Choice

    • Flash cards – study front and back at random (mix up stack of cards periodically), arrange cards in categories or themes (draw connections between the terms, don’t just study individual cards separately)
    • Create mock exam questions from your notes, including possible choices (a, b, c, d, e) and answer them fully
    • Quizlet – allows you to create online flashcards and test questions (http://www.quizlet.com)
    • Go through notes and brainstorm every possible thing that might be on the test and create a list
      • Then, on a new sheet of paper, rewrite your list in categories (leave room to explain the terms)
      • Take time to define and learn each new concept
    • Build a glossary of vocabulary words

     

     Short Answer

    • Be able to identify important ideas or concepts and briefly explain WHY they are important
    • Create a comprehensive list of all the terms, concepts, ideas, people, and events you might need to know
      • Use your list of terms and write down answers to the following:
        • Who, what, where, when, and HOW = be able to identify and explain the idea
        • “So what?” = explain WHY this is important, significant, or related to something else
      • Practice writing out the answers to your short answer questions from your list of terms – don’t just think it in your head, but write it down (multiple times!) and say it out loud
      • Create a concept map to help understand how main ideas and supporting points are connected

     

    Essay Exams

    • Create an outline w/a thesis (when you know the exact question). A good essay outline should:
      • Have a strong thesis that attempts to “prove” or “argue” an idea or point
      • At least 2-3 main ideas that support the thesis
      • Use course readings and class notes to support your thesis and main points

     

    Studying for open book tests

    • Create questions in the margins of your lecture notes – star (*) important questions
    • Annotate your book – underline important ideas/ concepts, write notes and reminders in the margins
    • Create a one page cheat sheet, formula sheet, or study guide

     

    Comparison questions

    • Show how two or more ideas are similar and different and WHY that matters
    • Venn Diagrams or pro/con lists
    • Color code with a highlighter based on categories and draw arrows between related information

     

    Math-based exams (statistics, economics, math, engineering, accounting, etc.)

    • Create a formula cheat sheet with examples of when and how to use each formula and all variations
    • Do practice problems in back of the book or go back through old homework problems
    • Write out steps to solving equations in your own words
    • Study when to use a formula, why it is used, how it is used, and exceptions or variations
    • Know how many steps it takes to solve a problem and roughly what the answer should look like

     

    Science-based exams

    • Draw pictures, diagrams, and tables to understand processes and to show information visually
    • Concept maps and hierarch trees to show how information is connected and related
    • Write out definitions in own words (make sure to understand concept beyond technical language in addition to studying the technical definition
    • Use memory techniques to remember details
      • Acronyms, abbreviations, or mnemonic sentences
      • Rhymes or songs
      • Mental visualization
      • Association
    • Categorize! Come up with a few main categories and group all information (trying to remember a million isolated ideas will be impossible!)
  • A Dozen Reasons to Review a Returned Test
    1. Check the point total to make sure it is right. Look for mistakes in grading. You never know – you may find a few missing points!
    1. Know the questions you missed and why you missed them. The reason you missed the question is often as important in taking your next test as the answer.
    1. Study the professor’s comments, especially for essay questions, so that you will know what is expected next time. If the comments don’t make sense or are difficult to read, ask your professor for an explanation.
    1. Look for kinds of questions (keeping an eye out for tricky questions!) that the instructor likes to use so that you can prepare for them on your next test.
    1. See if the questions came from the text or lecture. Concentrate more on that source when studying for your next exam.
    1. Correct and understand what you missed. This is information you need to know.
    1. It may appear on a later test or the final if the class is cumulative.
    1. Analyze the type of problems you missed so you can review strategies for that type of questions.
    1. Review to get an idea what kind of test the instructor might give next time.
    1. Review to put information back into long-term memory. You want to ask questions while the test is “fresh.”
    1. Review how you studied for the exam. Look for better ways. See what areas you studied well or did not concentrate on enough.
    1. Reviewing gives you a good reason to talk to your professor. Talking to your professor after a test will let them know that you want to improve. Always go in with specific questions or topics to cover.

    Hopper, Carolyn., Practicing College Study. Houghton Mifflin, 1998. ISBN# 0395852749

  • Post Test Review

    Part of learning to be a better student is learning from mistakes.  Reviewing graded exams, assignments, or papers is one of the best ways for students to reflect on their academic performance in order to learn how to improve. Post exam review helps your mentee to:

    1. Understand the grade: Reviewing tests helps your mentee to understand why they got certain grades. When looking over a test, pay attention to which questions were right or wrong, where points were deducted, and professor comments and feedback to draw conclusions about what went wrong.
    1. Identify issues and challenges: is the issue related to time management, lack of preparation, poor test-taking skills, studying strategies, or uncertainty about professor’s expectations, etc.? Understanding what went wrong will help you as a mentor devise strategies to help your mentee better prepare for future tests.
    1. Reflect on test preparation & exam taking techniques: It is important for your mentee to see if there are flaws in his or her test preparation or test taking strategies. Once your mentee becomes aware that a particular way of studying (or lack thereof) is not working, help to teach him or her better, more effective strategies.
    1. Discover professor expectations and where test material comes from: Post exam review helps your mentee learn what to expect for future tests. It shows how the questions are written, what the professor looks for in a correct answer, and how the professor grades. It also helps your mentee identify where test material comes from (i.e., readings/ textbook, lectures, homework, etc.) to know what to focus on.
    1. Realize when support is needed: a poor test grade can be a wakeup call for your mentee to take advantage of academic support services such as professor office hours, tutors, study groups, drop-in tutoring, or help centers/ labs.
    1. Make a plan to improve for future tests: answering these questions will help your mentee understand how to prepare better for future tests. Use post exam reviews to set goals with your mentee.

    Post exam review is best when your mentee has a returned book to look over. However not all professors return exams. You should encourage your mentee to see their professor in person to go over a graded exam if they did not get a test back. Nonetheless, it is possible to have productive post exam review conversation without a test by simply asking your mentee to talk about his or her exams.

    Materials

    • A returned test, exam, or assignment (best if graded and has professor comments)
    • “Post Exam Review” worksheet
    • “HOW & WHEN Did You Prepare for Your Exam” handout
    • “A Dozen Reasons to Review a Returned Test” handout

    Lesson Plan

    1. A Dozen Reasons to Review a Returned Test Handout Discussion
      1. Go over the “A Dozen Reasons to Review a Returned Test” handout: with your mentee. You can decide to have your mentee either read these aloud or silently.
      2. Pick 2 or 3 favorites: Have your mentee pick out the top 2 or 3 reasons that they like best and explain why each applies to his or her specific situation.
      3. Briefly discuss: ask your mentee to explain what they think is the importance of reviewing returned tests. Your mentee may not have realized some of the less obvious reasons for looking over a test. Let your mentee know that while it may not be fun to review exams, it is an important way to learn how to improve in the future. Share your own experiences with post test review.
    2. Post Exam Review
      1. Review a returned exam: take out a returned test and the “Post Exam Review” worksheet. Have your mentee look back through the returned exam question by question as they answer the first set of questions on the worksheet and checks off all boxes that apply. Your mentee can write or mark on the test if desired. It can be helpful to mark on the test which questions were right and which were wrong and why.
      2. Find patterns: Ask your mentee to look for patterns and draw conclusions about the questions that they got wrong. Ask your mentee:
        • What did you learn about yourself and this test after looking back through it?
        • Can you notice any patterns in how you studied or didn’t study?
        • What was it about this test that threw you?
      3. Review effective test prep strategies: have your mentee read the effective study strategies at the bottom of the page:
        • Check off: any strategies that they used to prepare for this test
        • Circle: any strategies that your mentee would like to try to use next time
      4. Sum it up: ask your mentee to write 2-3 sentences at the bottom of the worksheet summing up what they learned about this test and how to improve the next test.
        • TIPS: Keep the tone of the session positive by focusing on ways your mentee can improve next time not on what went wrong. Remind your mentee that you are learning how to do better next time.
      5. Reflect: ask your mentee to reflect on what they learned about their performance by asking the two central questions of post exam review: 1) HOW did you prepare for the exam? and, 2) WHEN did you start preparing?
        • Use the back of the Post Exam Review worksheet for sample reflection questions and better, more effective study tips. Go over these suggestions with your mentee
      6. Encourage communication: if your mentee has questions about the test or does not understand why they got a certain grade, always encourage him or her to see the professor. It can be very helpful to sit down with a professor and go through a test to fill in any misunderstandings and gaps of knowledge. If necessary, talk to your mentee about how to approach a faculty member about a returned test.
    3. Set goals for future tests
      1. Set goals: once your mentee has reviewed an exam and understands what worked and what did not, set goals for ways to improve on future tests.
        • TIPS:
          • Your mentee may need to learn new skills or practice ones they already know in order to prepare better for future tests. Use what your mentee discovers in this session to plan your future sessions. You may want to follow up with another skill like note taking or reading or return to time-management and organization strategies.
          • Relate this activity back to your mentee’s initial academic course goals. Did the poor test result happen because your mentee was not working on his or her goals? Does your mentee need or want to change those goals now?
  • Solutions to Your Studying Distractions
    Possible DistractionPossible Solution
    Teammates & Friends
    • Study in an environment where you are by yourself or not easily tempted to talk with friends.
    • If you are required to go to team study hall with friends, try to sit where you won’t be as distracted and can get more accomplished.
    Studying in your room, apartment, or house
    • Need silence?  Turn off TV, cell phone, shut the door.
    • Need noise?  Studying in silence doesn’t work for everyone. Try music or background noise.
    • Study at a table or desk with good lighting.
    • If studying in bed works for you, do it, but don’t get TOO comfortable (Don’t get sleepy!).
    • Study in small blocks of time.  For example, if you need to study 3 hours, choose three one-hour blocks.
    • Reward yourself when you’re finished studying.
    Physical & Mental Fatigue
    • Sleep a consistent and sufficient number of hours each night.
    • Find time to study when you are most alert and energized.
    • Take advantage of those “open” times during your day. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 2 hours of studying, it will help.
    Injury
    • If you’re having difficulty studying because of an injury, talk to your athletic trainer, academic counselor, AccessAbilities Services, or the Counseling Center on campus.
    • Need help getting to and from class, the library, or around campus?  Contact AccessAbilities Services to ask for help with transportation.
    Hunger
    • Eat smaller healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to maintain high energy.
    • Eat before studying and take a snack break during your study session.
    Unresolved problems and other things on your mind
    • Stressed about traveling, personal problems, or the upcoming exams you have this week?  Talk to someone.
    • Seek out your ARM, academic counselor, or friend to help you with your game plan.
    • The Counseling Center on campus is also a great resource.  Call them at 203-837-8690.

     

    Adapted from A Student Athlete’s Guide to College Success: Peak Performance in Class and Life, Petrie & Denson (2011)

  • 20 Tips for getting top grades

    Sometimes students get so caught up in the details of studying, they forget the obvious. Here, thanks to Claude W. Olney, J.D. ‘s Where There’s A Will There’s An A seminar, are twenty suggestions to help you improve your college performance.

    1. Go to class. Do some fast math. Figure out how much each lab or lecture costs you-or your parents. The price, alone, should inspire you to get up for that 8:00 A.M. class. Need more incentive? Olney says that college graduates make over $600,000 more in their lifetime on the average than do high school graduates: Does that get you moving?
    2. Take subjects you enjoy. Believe it or not, college should be fun-your classes as well as your social life. If you look carefully, you can find interesting required or “core” courses, even during your first year.
    3. Preview instructors. Students who have been there before you know the good teachers. Ask and you shall find. Try to sit in on classes and check out instructors for yourself before signing up.
    4. Register on time. Those who wait until the last minute may lose out on the classes they want. 
    5. Buy the textbook before class begins. Get a jump start by getting the text and reading the first fifty pages or so before the first class. You’ll understand those first few weeks better and may discover you really like reading about the subject once the onus of “assigned” work is lifted.
    6. Pour it on the first two weeks. Overstudy to get off to a great start. When you begin with As on quizzes or assignments, you get a taste of success. This builds confidence and keeps you pumping through the semester.
    7. Never miss a class. Good attendance pays! Olney observed that, of his students, A students, on the average, missed less than one class per forty-five-class semester, while C students were out more than four classes in the same semester.
    8. Never miss extra credit work. It’s not “extra” if everyone can do it. Do extra credit routinely. This often means the difference between an A and a B.
    9. Practice taking tests to improve your performance. Check out the school book store or internet. You’ll find lots of books and articles on this subject. Take tests in magazines and anywhere else you find them. The more you practice, the better you’ll do. 
    10. Turn in your homework on time, neatly done and edited. Make every page perfect. This tip also improves your typing skills.
    11. Practice memory strategies.
    12. If money is a problem, obtain student loans so you can study more and work at outside jobs less.
    13. Present a self-addressed postcard to each professor after taking the final exam in each course with the course name noted and a blank space left for your grade. Why? The postcard strategy has some definite psychological benefits. A professor is more likely to give an “interested” student an A if you’re between an A and a B. And if your grade is close, this way you can discuss it with the professor before he or she turns it in to the registrar’s office. Once grades reach the registrar’s office, it’s much tougher to persuade a professor to go through the trouble of changing a grade. Does this system work? Yes! Olney says, “There are no ironclad rules on where a B ends and an A begins.”
    14. Drop a course if it is not working out after the first week or so. Familiarize yourself with your school policy on this, but don’t be afraid what people will say if you drop a course. Dropping gives you the option to start that course again later when you are better prepared for it or add a different course right then. Don’t get penalized with a poor grade for a poor class choice.
    15. Buy a pen with an eraser on it and use this for exams. Your exam will be neater, and you won’t feel as pressured to get it all down “right” as you write.
    16. Mark what you don’t know instead of what you do know when you study chapters in your textbooks.
    17. Stay fit and eliminate bad habits. You’ll get more out of your college experience if you feel good.
    18. Check with your professor during the semester concerning your grade. Asking shows interest. If you are only getting a C, Olney suggests you switch to pass/fail. “If you are getting a D,” he says, “get out fast.”
    19. When taking exams, write as much as you know for an essay exam because volume does pay. In a multiple choice test, “All of the Above” can be a good guess.
    20. Don’t take that lower-than-hoped-for grade at face value. Fight for the close ones. 

    From: Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands 

Stressors

  • Time Management

    Students, whether first year or graduate, typically complain about a) the size of their workload and b) the amount of unstructured time. On the surface, these two issues appear to go together but it takes time management skills to resolve them.

    TRY Keeping track of your time for one entire week. Account for every 1/2 hour by filling in your schedule every few hours. Add up totals for sleep, studying and recreation.

    WHY? Because you need to know if you are putting in enough hours. Normal for sleep is 50-60hrs; students who are sleep-deprived have lower marks than students who are getting enough sleep. Normal for school work is 1hr homework for every hour in class plus overtime for studying; this varies from one faculty and program to another, and mature and part-time students may need twice these hours for homework, so check with your advisor. Normal for recreation is 10-25hrs, depending on your program.

    TRY Planning your schedule in advance, to whatever degree you are comfortable, adjusting your hours to desired totals. Make clear contracts with yourself regarding time, place and study task.

    WHY? Because you will work best with a clear sense of purpose.

    TRY Writing everything down: long term goals (course requirements) on a calendar, short term goals (weekly requirements) on your schedule or “goals” sheet, daily goals (errands) on a “to do” list.

    WHY? Because time management is about goals: clarifying them (on paper, leaving short-term memory free for learning), setting them, assessing them, developing methods for meeting them and rewarding them.

    TRY Doing some work on a task the day that it is assigned, then developing a plan for finishing it by dividing the task into at least 5 “chunks” of work with established deadlines and rewards.

    WHY? Because all of these activities help with motivation. First minute motivation is a powerful tool; after using it to gain momentum, set deadlines – with rewards – and chip away at the task to get it done.

    TRY Doing your most difficult work during hours when you feel best. Save pleasant tasks for less productive times of the day.

    WHY? Because this will make you more efficient. Most of us have high energy time each day (often in the morning), with two periods of medium and one of low energy (often in the late afternoon). Find these times for yourself and work with them – do difficult work during high time and easier work during lower times.

    From Counselling Services, University of Waterloo 

  • Stress Facts

    What is stress?

    • Stress is an emotional/bodily reaction to physical, psychological or emotional demands.
    • Stress is a fact of life. Managed stress can become useful and healthy (viewing events as challenges). Unmanaged stress can become distressful and unhealthy (viewing events as threats). 

    What are some of the causes of stress?

    • Expectations we place on ourselves
    • Expectations of others 
    • Our physical environment — noise, movement, weather, season changes
    • Our internal environment — academic pressure, frustration, not enough time, decisions, social life

    What are some symptoms of unmanaged stress? 

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; feeling tense, irritable, fatigued, or depressed
    • Lack of interest and ability to concentrate, apathy
    • Avoidance behaviors: abuse of drugs, alcohol, tobacco

    What are ways to manage stress effectively?

    • Add balance to life; don’t overdo studies or play.
    • Know and accept what kind of person you are: strengths and weaknesses.
    • Get a thorough physical exam. 
    • Take “time outs”, especially during study.
    • Expand your support network, reinforce friendships.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Watch your breathing.
    • Walk loosely and walk more.
    • Learn and practice relaxation skills.
    • Study each subject regularly for moderate periods of time.
    • Discuss problems with friends, family, dean or counselor.

    From Academic Skills Center, Darthmouth College 2001

  • Managing Freedom

    The amount of freedom afforded you in your college years can serve as your greatest source of growth. Mishandled, it can also hold possibilities for danger and derailment. First-year students often struggle with the transition from a structured pre-college world to an unstructured university life. Upperclassmen typically struggle with increasing time demands from all areas of life.

    Realities, Priorities, & Rewards

    If time management were as simple as scheduling our work, all of us would be effective. However, even when we have enough time we often do not structure our schedules or use our time effectively. Sometimes we procrastinate or don’t follow our own schedule. Obviously, time management is more difficult than it initially seems. Review the concepts and strategies below. If you find yourself needing more assistance in the area of Time Management, schedule an appointment with an Academic Resource Mentor.

    Set Goals

    The best way to beat procrastination is the active pursuit of a well-defined and intensely desired goal. Think you’re better off going with the flow or taking life as it comes? Try the opposite.

    Define what you want in terms that are specific. “I want to be a better student” is too vague. Instead, try: “I want to earn a B in Chemistry, a C+ in Math, an A- in Psychology, and a B in English”

    Want it. State your goals. Place specific goal reminders in places where you will see them. 

    Set Boundaries

    Managing time means structuring your time into categories (sleep, study, work, recreation). Set specific blocks of time for specific categories. For example:

    • Go to Supplemental Instruction (SI) for your Math class every MW from 4:30 to 5:30
    • Read or re-read your Psych textbook one hour prior to class every TR 1:00 to 2:00
    • Make good use of your time by filling any gap with studying (index cards, etc.)
    • Reduce travel time (go to the library instead of back and forth to home)

    Commit to those times. “Every” MW from 4:30 to 5:30 means EVERY MW—no exceptions nor excuses. Commitment involves blocking off clear and specific time boundaries which are not changed by exceptions or excuses.

    Set social boundaries, saying no to other offers and options. In order to set social boundaries, you must develop language for saying no (or later) to friends and family.

    Prioritize

    You cannot succeed at the university level by simply adding school to the list of everything else you were already doing. Your academic commitments must take high priority. You must put other things, people, tasks, relationships aside to succeed at UT!

    Set rewards for the future (if I earn a 3.0 this fall, I go skiing over the holidays), but work hard now!

    From The Student Success Center, The University of Tennessee 

  • Test Anxiety vs Unpreparedness Anxiety

    Test Anxiety

    A little nervousness can actually help motivate us; however, too much of it can become a problem, especially if it interferes with our ability to prepare for and perform on exams. If you feel like worrying and anxiety caused you to perform poorly on a test that you should have done well on, you may have test anxiety.

    Test anxiety is a feeling of agitation or distress.  Test anxiety may be a “butterflies in your stomach,” an instant headache, or sweaty palms during an exam. Some causes of test anxiety are:

    • Perfectionism
    • Fear of failure
    • Overstating the importance of exams
    • Focusing excessively on outcome, rather than of effort, and improvement (I need to get a 90 on this exam or I won’t get a C- in the class)
    • Having unrealistic performance expectations
    • Poor preparation
    • Lack of skills necessary for success
    • Linked to performance anxiety

    Anxiety may cause you to have physiological, behavioral, or even a psychological effect:

    • Physiological - rapid heartbeat, knot in stomach, headache, tension, profuse perspiration
    • Behavioral – indecisiveness, “going blank,” inability to organize thoughts or concentrate
    • Psychological - feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or continual doubt, lack of motivation

    SOLUTION:  If you know that you may be suffering from test anxiety, there are many resources out there that are available to you. Contact your academic counselor, talk to your mentor, or go to the Counseling Center.

    Unpreparedness Anxiety

    Test anxiety is NOT the same as doing poorly on a test because your mind was focused on something else such as a breakup, upcoming game, or favorite TV show, etc. Feeling anxious about a test because you did not adequately prepare for it is called unpreparedness anxiety.

    Unpreparedness anxiety can be avoided by:

    • Improving study habits
    • Time management
    • Tutoring
    • Attending review sessions
    • Talking to professor during his/her office hours
    • Taking advantage of help labs and drop-in tutoring
    • Prioritizing (“I can’t go hang out with friends until I get XYZ complete”)
    • To do list
    • Setting goals
    • Weekly study plans and study schedules

    Not sure where to start? Talk to your mentor and/or academic counselor to help utilize tools available to you.  They can help you get organized for classes, show you new study techniques and strategies, how to take better notes, or help you contact your professor if needed.

    SOLUTION: PREPARE! Manage your time! Set a plan to study and provide yourself enough time by starting early enough to adequately prepare for your test.  It’s the best way to deal with unpreparedness anxiety.

  • Managing and Minimizing Test Anxiety

    What does test anxiety feel like?

    • Some students experience mainly physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, faintness, feeling too hot or too cold, etc.
    • Others experience more emotional symptoms, such as crying easily, feeling irritable, or getting frustrated quickly.
    • The major problem of test anxiety is usually its effect on thinking ability; it can cause you to blank out or have racing thoughts that are difficult to control.
    • Although many students feel some level of anxiety when writing exams, most can cope with that anxiety and bring it down to a manageable level.

    What can you do to control test anxiety?

    • Be well prepared for the test.
    • Include as much self-testing in your review as possible.
    • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: get enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise, some personal “down” time, and a reasonable amount of social interaction.
    • As you anticipate the exam, think positively, e.g., “I can do OK on this exam. I’ve studied and I know my stuff.”
    • Engage in “thought stopping” if you find that you are worrying a lot, mentally comparing yourself to your peers, or thinking about what others may say about your performance on this exam.
    • Before you go to bed on the night before the exam, make sure to collect together anything that you will need for the exam — pen, pencil, ruler, eraser, calculator, etc. Double check the time of the exam and the location.
    • Set the alarm clock and then get a good night’s sleep before the exam.
    • Get to the exam on time – not too late but not too early.
    • Don’t talk to other students about the exam material just before going into the exam.
    • Sit in a location in the exam room where you will be distracted as little as possible.
    • As the papers are distributed, calm yourself down by taking some slow deep breaths.
    • Make sure to carefully read any instructions on the exam.
    • As you work on the exam, focus only on the exam, not on what other students are doing or on thinking about past exams or future goals.
    • If you feel very anxious in the exam, take a few minutes to calm yourself down. Stretch your arms and legs and then relax them again. Do this a couple of times. Take a few slow deep breaths. Do some positive internal self-talk; say to yourself, “I will be OK, I can do this.” Then direct your focus on questions; link questions to their corresponding lecture and/or chapter.
    • If the exam is more difficult than you anticipated, try to focus and just do your best. It might be enough to get you through, even with a reasonable grade!
    • When the exam is over, treat yourself. If you don’t have any other commitments, maybe you can go to a movie with a friend. If you have to study for other exams, you may have to postpone a larger break, but a brief break can be the pick-up that you need. 

    Try to focus on…

    • Putting your exam in proper perspective. Yes, exams are important, but not matters of life and death.
    • What you can control – such as the amount of time and effort you put into preparing for an exam
    • What you will learn or gain from the test rather than the grade
    • Setting high, but attainable, goals
    • PREPARING! The best ways to reduce test anxiety is to be prepared
    • Seeking out a tutor or coach/mentor to form skills needed to be successful
    • Small, manageable tasks – break up larger studying tasks and do one step at a time!

    Nip It In the Bud:

    Worrying can become an ingrained thought pattern, like a habit that gets worse the more you dwell on it:

    • Relax! Try muscle relaxation techniques or deep breathing.
    • ENJOY 10 – 5 minutes of peace and quiet. Sit in a comfortable chair and think about your favorite place or object. If your thoughts stray, guide them back.
    • Frustrated? Take a break, do something nice for yourself, or get some fresh air or exercise. It will help to clear your brain so you can get back to studying with an open mind.
    • Keep a journal or diary – write down anxiety-inducing thoughts on a scrap of paper and put them aside or throw the paper away. Writing down ideas helps you clear them from your mind and move on.

     

    You can take control of test anxiety so that your performance on a test reflects your real standing in that course. If interfering levels of test anxiety persist, however, talk to a counselor for some specialized help.

     

    From: 

    Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands

    “Understanding & Overcoming Test Anxiety”, Minnesota State University and Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), and from “A Student Athlete’s Guide to College Success: Peak Performance in Class and Life” by Trent A. Petrie and Eric L. Denson

  • Stress Busters

    SOME OF US ARE NATURALLY RESISTANT TO STRESS, BUT ANYONE CAN USE THESE PROVEN STRATEGIES TO CALM BODY AND MIND

    Excerpted from an article by Geoffrey Cowley – Newsweek June 14, 1999

    As Stanford psychiatrist David Spiegel puts it, “Living a stress-free life is not a reasonable goal. The goal is to deal with it actively and effectively.” 

    1. One approach is to emulate people who are naturally resistant to stress. Some people weather devastating experiences with uncanny serenity. By studying them, researchers have discovered that they share distinctive habits of mind.

    • They tend to focus on immediate issues rather than global ones.
    • Stress-resistant people also tend to share an optimistic “explanatory style.”
    • They assume their troubles are temporary (“I’m tired today”) rather than permanent (“I’m washed up”) and specific (“I have a bad habit”) rather than universal (“I’m a bad person”)

    2. They credit themselves when things go right, while externalizing their failures (“That was a tough audience,” not “I gave a wretched speech”)At the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, specialists teach people to manage stress through meditation and other relaxation exercises.

    • Participants in the center’s stress program concentrate on breathing to quell the mind’s restless forays in the past and future.
    • Then they lie down and “scan” their bodies, relaxing one muscle at a time

    3. Massage is another proven antidote to stress. No one knows precisely how the kneading of flesh quells the stress response, but the effects can be dramatic. 

    4. If massage and meditation are too tame for your tastes, exercise may be your medicine. Exercise is known to increase the body’s production of morphine-like endorphins, while improving the brain’s oxygen supply and releasing tension from the muscles. 

    There are many other options, from yoga to biofeedback to music therapy, and none of them excludes the others. So do what works for you. And whether you go to confession, join a support group, or start a diary, find a way to talk about your feelings.

    How can such different exercises have such similar benefits? The key, experts agree, is that they combat feelings of helplessness.

    From Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001

  • Talking To Your Instructors

    What’s the best way to talk to my instructor?

    Instructors want you to use them as a resource. They hold office hours for a reason, yet many students still avoid their instructor’s office unless required. Remember, unless you tell them otherwise, your instructors assume you’re doing fine (or at least that you’re fine with how you’re doing). They can’t help if you don’t ask! So overcome your fear, and start directly talking to your instructors outside of class.

    Knowing the best ways to approach your instructors will give you that necessary confidence to step into the “dragon’s den.” Chances are, you’ll discover the “dragon” is human after all. 

    Call them by the right title.

    Most instructors let you know what they want to be called. When in doubt, go with “Dr. *last name+.” If they’re not a professor, they’ll let you know; but they’re unlikely to be offended by the promotion.

    Be prepared – instructors are not mind readers.

    Unless you’re just stopping by to chat (which is fine, by the way), have your questions prepared in advance. You need to be able to clearly articulate what it is you need help with. Besides, planning your agenda in advance helps ensure you don’t forget what you came there to do. Also, be sure to bring any necessary materials with you. 

    The more open and truthful you can be, the more receptive your instructor will be.

    When it comes to lies, instructors have no tolerance for deceptiveness and the twisting of actual events. Be honest. Whatever it is, they’ve heard it before, and if it’s the truth, they will listen again. 

    Don’t ask “Hey, what’s on the final?”

    Be diplomatic. Instead, ask “How can I best prepare for the final?” See the difference? Avoid approaching your instructors aggressively or antagonistically, and don’t whine. Above all, don’t act entitled; your instructor is not your employee. Think about how you want to be perceived and act accordingly. Phrase your questions carefully, so as not to sound like you’re asking for special treatment or “inside knowledge.”

    Your instructor is not Harry Potter. Don’t ask the impossible of your instructors.

    They are here to help you, but they are also restricted by course and departmental policies. Whatever your circumstances, instructors have to hold you to the same standards and workload as the rest of the class. So go ahead and inquire about make-up work, extra credit, and other opportunities, but be prepared to do the work, and don’t expect easy outs. Brace yourself for disappointment, and if your instructor says “no,” follow up with damage control strategies.

    At the end, it’s too late.

    You will not get far by approaching your instructor at the end of the semester and declaring that you will lose you scholarship, be kicked off the team, or get dismissed from school if you don’t receive a certain grade in the class. As you see signs of falling short of certain requirements as a UT student, member of an organization, or scholarship recipient, meet with your instructors. They most certainly agree that your grade is important, but in the end they cannot be held responsible for your earned grade or personal circumstances. 

    Get to the point – your instructor’s office is not a lounge.

    Even if you’re paying a social call, don’t use up more of your instructor’s time than necessary. Other students may be waiting, so be clear and concise; don’t beat around the bush

    Don’t flirt, don’t threaten, and don’t be overly informal.

    In other words, be professional. Different instructors have different ways of interacting with students (some are casual, some are more proper), but ultimately academia is a professional arena, and you should conduct yourself accordingly. You might also want to consider your attire; if you’re dealing with an “old-fashioned” instructor, or if you’re there on a serious matter (such as asking for a letter of recommendation), it’s a good idea to dress for the occasion.

    Talk to your instructors early and often.

    This is a proactive and professional relationship. If you know you’re going to miss class, try to let your instructors know ahead of time. If you’re sick, contact them. If you need an extension, ask before the due date, not after. If you’re struggling, see them before it’s too late (after all, there’s only so much they can do if the semester’s almost over). Your instructors like you and want to help, but you have to meet them halfway.

    From The Student Success Center, The University of Tennessee

Taking Tests

  • Effective Steps for Exam Prep

    Make a plan

    • Know when your test dates and due dates are
    • Give yourself at minimum a week for preparation
    • Allow more time for difficult classes or projects
    • Start with what’s most difficult
    • Be clear about what the test will ask you to do/know
    • Schedule specific times to prepare each day; earlier in the day

    Set goals

    • Write down your goals and post them in a place you see them multiple times a day
    • Tell people about your goals
    • Make specific goals: what grade will you get on your paper? What cumulative GPA will you achieve this semester? What day will you finish your paper?
    • Have in mind rewards to give yourself for when you achieve your goals 

    Prioritize your actions. 

    • Use an ABC-to-Do List to designate what items are most urgent and important
    • Break major studying and assignments down into smaller portions that you can check off (consider – it’s not helpful to put on a to-do list “write paper”. It is helpful to put “research sources,” “draft an outline,” “write introduction.” “write 1st draft,” “take draft to the Writing Center,” etc.)
    • Review past performance – correct any patterns of error and duplicate any patterns of success 

    Stay healthy. 

    • Take breaks from studying or working – for every hour at work, take 5 minutes away
    • Positivity and anxiety are both contagious – surround yourself with people who promote success
    • Communicate with your roommate(s) about sleep, noise, relaxation, etc. 
    • Be confident; think positively
    • Sleep, exercise, eat nutritiously – limit caffeine intake

    How to prepare for in-class exams.

    • Use study tools:
      • Flash cards – portable, easy to test and mix ideas
      • Mind maps – show relationships
      • Summary sheets – include the most important and most difficult concepts
      • Essay questions
      • Old exams
    • Understand the difference between understanding something and reciting it in your own words – get to the point of recitation – you know material when you could teach it to someone else 
    • Don’t cram until the last possible second – give yourself at least 10 minutes before starting the exam to breathe and relax
    • Try a “brain dump” at the beginning of the exam – on a piece of scratch paper, write down everything you can remember 

    How to prepare to take home essays and exams.

    • Understand the assignment in great detail – recite it back to yourself in your own words
    • Set yourself time limits and achievement goals – “I will finish my first draft of 4 pages in 3 hours” – then reward yourself
    • Prepare ahead of time – read your sources, take notes, have conversations
    • Make an outline or mind map to organize your ideas
    • Use multiple drafts
    • Use writing center tutors

    Other general tips

    • Create study/review sheets of key information
    • Do practice problems/essay questions
    • Study/practice with others

    From Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands

  • Basic Test Taking Tips

    Arrive on time. Sit where the light is good and where there is a minimum of distractions from other students during the test and as they are leaving.

    Relax. Most teachers give fair tests. They usually are not attempting to trick you but rather want to know how thoroughly you have mastered the information. Take a deep breath, hold it and let it out slowly. Repeat this several times to help eliminate tension which can block thinking and memory for information. Remember an exam is testing what you know; it is not an evaluation of you as a human being.

    Read the directions and follow them. Make sure you understand what is expected of you. Directions may indicate how many questions you are to answer or what form your responses should take.

    Plan your test taking time. Determine how many minutes you have to answer the questions, the number of questions you must answer and the maximum point value for each answer. 

    Answer the easiest questions first. By doing this, a) you will be more likely to answer correctly all the questions that you can answer correctly; b) you may build up your test-taking confidence and, perhaps, avoid undue test anxiety; c) you may think of answers to some of the difficult questions; d) you may find an answer to a difficult question. An alternate strategy is to begin with the question worth the most points if you are confident of answering it.

    Put a star next to questions that you are not completely sure about after you’ve answered them. This way, you can quickly find them later if you have extra time.

    Answer all questions—usually. Answer all questions unless instructed to do otherwise. Also, in problem solving tests it is good strategy to maximize the ratio of correct to attempted items. It may be better strategy to do fewer problems and get all of them right than to attempt all problems and get fewer of them right.

    Check your answers carefully. Do not rush when you take tests because other students finish before you do. Take time to look for careless errors and to proofread essay answers for grammar, spelling, legibility, etc.Finishing early can be very tempting but it’s not worth making silly mistakes that you would have found upon review.

    Don’t let others see your answers. If you are left-handed ask to sit at the back of the room, so no one behind you can easily see your answers. If your answers are visible to others, you may be suspected of cheating.

    Learn from your incorrect answers. When tests are returned to you, study them carefully to learn why you answered some questions incorrectly. Study the instructor’s comments; check with him/her for explanations if necessary.

     

    From:

    Student Success Center, Idaho State University 

    Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands

  • How to Avoid Cramming

    Learn the material!

    It sounds simple, but “original learning” needs to take place before you can review it effectively.

    Review early. It’s the most efficient and most productive method, and it’s much easier to review what you already know than to relearn everything. Before you attempt to learn new material in class or through reading, glance over previous chapters or notes and recall what you know already. Immediately after learning, rework your notes and add material that comes to mind (but don’t recopy them –that’s a waste of time). Order and organize what was learned, using whatever works for you (e.g. stars, arrows, additional comments, etc.). Integrate the new material with what you already know.

    Review often. Space your review sessions. 60 minutes used in 3 review sessions of 20 minutes each is more effective than 60 minutes used all at once. This avoids fatigue, strengthens previous learning, and increases motivation and better concentration.

    Review before your final exam.

    Remember, your final review is a REVIEW, not a cramming of unlearned material. Don’t learn anything new unless it’s to draw together the final main currents of though. Be brief, and review an entire semester’s work in a few hours (set a limit and stick to it.)Outline and organize everything from memory. Don’t bother copying. Also, try reciting what you know, either by writing it or saying it out loud to yourself or to a friend.

    Examples of Active Review

    • Do practice problems
    • Make 3×5 cards
    • Recite what you know
    • Anticipate questions and answers
    • Make “summary sheets”
    • Review past exams
    • Study with a group 

    From Academic Skills Center, Darthmouth College 2001

  • Emergency Cramming Techniques

    Cramming for exams should be avoided at all costs. You should only cram for an exam as a last resort. It's hard to take in and retain a large amount of information in a short period of time. Some of the tips on studying and preparing for a test may overlap with the cramming techniques below. 

    • Eat some food to give you energy to study, but try to avoid excess sugar which will make you hyper and will make it more difficult to study. An apple does a better job at keeping you focused and awake than caffeine.
    • Find a well-lit place with no distractions around to study but don't get too comfortable or you may fall asleep.
    • Keep a positive attitude, it is easier to study when you are relaxed than when you are stressed out.
    • Since your time is limited you have to choose what you study, don't attempt to learn everything, focus on things that will get you the most points on the exam. 
    • Focus on the main ideas and learn key formulas, skip the details for now and only come back to them if you see that you have time after you have learned the key points.
    • Write down the key ideas/formulas on a sheet of paper and keep on studying from that sheet, repetition is important.
    • Highlight the important points in your notes, and text and focus on that.
    • Read the chapter summaries (they usually do a good job at summarizing the important points), if there're no chapter summaries then skim through the text and write down key ideas.
    • Study from past tests, review questions, homework & review sheets.
    • Take at least one five minute break an hour so that you can gather your thoughts and let your brain relax.
    • If time permits, try to get at least 3 hours of sleep (one sleep cycle) before the exam so that you don't fall asleep when taking your exam. Don't forget to set your alarm!

    Visit TestTakingTips.com for more test taking help.

    From Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands

  • Tips for Multiple Choice Questions

    Goal: To answer as many questions correctly as possible (not to finish the test on time). Treat each question as if it were to decide your final grade. Practice this step-by-step approach on sample questions. 

    • Read the stem question and answer options carefully.
    • Circle or underline the qualifying words in the stem question: almost, sometimes, never, etc.
    • Identify in the stem what the question is actually asking: it’s usually found at the end of the stem question. Repeat the actual question in your mind (even in your own words) before going to the options.
    • Treat each option as a true or false answer. Starting with the first option, repeat the actual question, then read the option and mark it accordingly. Continue through the rest of the options. 
    • In “All of the above” and “None of the above” choices, if you are certain one of the statements is true don’t choose “None of the above” or one of the statements are false don’t choose “All of the above”.
    • For questions in which you can’t decide between or among options, go with what you know. Avoid choosing based on unfamiliarity or numbers/statistics (going with what you don’t know). Cross out answers that you know aren’t right. If an option “rings any small bells,” choose it.
    • Answer each question; do not leave any unanswered.
    • Mark questions that you are unsure about, using marks that denote: little, somewhat, very. This will save you time when you look over your test.
    • Do not change your initial answer unless you have a specific reason for doing so. Most changed answers go from the right answer to the wrong answer. Trust your first response.
    • If time runs out and you have questions unanswered, choose your favorite letter and use that letter for those questions. Don’t be random.
    • Don’t pay attention to how many a’s, b’s, c’s, or d’s you’ve marked.

    From

    Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001

    Academic Success & Disability Services, University of Redlands

  • Tips for Non-Multiple Choice Questions

    True/False TestTips

      • Usually there are more true answers than false on most tests.
      • If there is no guessing penalty, guess. You have a 50% chance of getting the right answer.
      • Qualifiers like never, always and every mean that the statement must be true all of the time. Usually these qualifiers led to a false answer.
      • Qualifiers like usually, sometimes and generally mean that the statement can be considered true or false depending on the circumstances. Usually these type of qualifiers lead to an answer of true.
      • If any part of the question is false, then the entire statement is false. But just because part of the statement is true doesn’t necessarily make the entire statement true. 
      • Read the directions – do you have to write explanations as to why the statements are true or false?
      • Be careful of statements with two clauses. If the statement contains “and” then BOTH clauses have to be true for the statement to be true. If the statement contains “or,” then only one clause has to be true for the statement to be true.

    Short Answer Test Tips

    • Try to anticipate questions that will be asked on the test and prepare for them. Usually what your instructor emphasizes in class will be on the test.
    • Use flashcards, writing the key terms, dates and concepts on the front and the definition, event, and explanations on the back.
    • Try not to leave an answer blank. Show your work/write down your thoughts, even if you don’t get the exact answer. Partial credit is often awarded.
    • If you don’t know the answer, come back to it after you finish the rest of the test and make an educated guess. Other parts of the test may give you clues to what the answer may be.
    • If you can think of more than one answer for a question, ask the instructor what to do.
    • Read the question carefully and make sure that you answer everything that it asks for; some short answer questions have multiple parts. 

    Essay Test Tips

    • Read the directions carefully. Pay close attention to whether you are supposed to answer all the essays or only a specified amount (i.e., “Answer 2 out of the 3 questions”).
    • Make sure that you understand what the question is asking you. If not, ask the instructor.
    • Make sure that you write down everything that is asked of you and more. The more details and facts that you write down, the higher your grade is going to be.
    • Remember, essay exams are more than spitting back information. They require application and evaluation of concepts, critical thinking, and analysis. Read the directions carefully and make sure you know what you’re being asked to do. For example, if your professor wants you to evaluate philosophical theory, then you won’t get full credit if you just describe the theory.
    • Budget your time. Don’t spend the entire test on one essay.If you have an hour to write 3 essays, spend no more than 20 minutes on each essay. Then, if you have time left over at the end, go back and finish any incomplete essays.
    • If the question is asking for facts, don’t give your personal opinion on the topic.
    • When writing your essay, be as neat as possible. Neater papers usually receive higher marks.
    • Make an outline before writing your essay. This way your essay will be more organized and fluid. If you happen to run out of time, most instructors will give you partial credit for the ideas that you have outlined.
    • Don’t write long introductions and conclusions. The bulk of your time should be spent on answering the question(s) asked.
    • Begin with a simple and clear thesis statement that reflects your understanding of the whole question. Then, systematically support your thesis and do not stray from your thesis or outline. Avoid Fat, Fluff, and Filler.
    • Focus on one main idea per paragraph.
    • If you have time left at the end, proofread your work and correct any errors.

    Math exams

    • Prepare by practicing with examples in the book
    • Prepare by taking notes in words and identify each step of the problem
    • Study more than one example
    • Know the number of steps it takes to finish a problem or formula
    • Know the variations and variables that might affect the answer
    • Teach the information to someone else
    • Remember that in math to ace a test it means making no mistakes, so double-check all calculations (even simple ones)
    • Show your work (draw pictures and write calculations on the side to show the professor what you are thinking).

General Tips

  • Tips for Reading in College

    General Tips:

    1. Choose a place to read where there will be a minimum of distractions.

    2. Try to sit in the same place each time you read your textbook.

    3. Read at peak periods of attention, rather than when you are tired or distracted.

    4. Do not read your most difficult textbook at the end of a study session. Push yourself to read it first or second.

    5. Make a schedule for all your reading; take a few moments to plan your study and reading time for all your classes.

    6. Reward yourself after reading.

    7. Get interested in the textbook by

    • trying to predict the author’s thoughts
    • trying to connect the chapter with previous chapters
    • trying to connect what you are reading with what you’ve learned in other courses, or with your own observations or experiences.- reading critically
    • asking questions while you read.

    8. Combine mental and physical activities. For example, write notes and underline key points in your textbook while reading. Also, consider mapping the reading.

    9. Vary your activities. Alternate textbook reading, for example, with accounting problems or a chemistry lab report.

    10. Keep a distractions list nearby. Jot down items that distract you while you’re reading that you need to remember later on (such as something you need to buy, or a reminder to make an appointment).

    11. Keep a tally ( //// ) of how often your mind wanders while you’re reading.

    12. Prop up your textbook, so your angle of vision is approximately 90º.

    13. Avoid moving your lips as you read.

    14. Avoid moving your finger along the lines as your read. 15. Avoid moving your head from left to right as you read.

    16. Avoid distracting physical activities such as tapping your foot or chewing gum while reading.

    17. As you read, think of the writer(s) who wrote the textbook. Remember that there is a real person behind the print. Consider why and how that person wrote what you’re reading. Consider how that author chose to organize the material.

    18. Treat reading as only the first step in the reading process. One reading is seldom enough. For mastery, you’ll also need to re-read, review, write summaries, and/or discuss the material with others.

    19. Think of reading as communication and thinking.

    20. Establish a purpose for reading each chapter and each section, by turning the headings into questions. Try to begin your questions with “WHAT,” “HOW,” and “WHY,” words that lead to more detailed responses. Searching for the answers while you read will result in more active reading.

    SQ3R

    Survey
    Before you read, survey the chapter. Scan through the entire reading to give yourself a quick idea of what the chapter will be about. Briefly look over the following things:

    • Titles, headings, and subheadings
    • Captions under pictures, charts, graphs, or maps
    • Browse summary questions at the beginning or end of the chapter
    • Read introductory and concluding paragraphs

    Why? This help to formulate background information


    Question
    Formulate the questions as you survey. Try to predict questions that will be easily answered in the text. Write your questions in the margins or on a new sheet of paper:

    • Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions
    • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading
    • Ask yourself, “What did my instructor say about this chapter or subject when it was assigned?”
    • Ask yourself, “What do I already know about this subject?

    Why? This helps your brain seek information and actively think about what your read


    Read
    Read the text with the goal of answering each of your questions:

    • Read one section at a time and answer your questions as you go
    • Note all the underlined, italicized, bold printed words or phrases
    • Create new questions as you read if new information comes up that you did not predict
    • Reduce your speed for difficult passages
    • Stop and reread sections that are not clear
    • Answer questions at the beginning or end of chapters or study guides

    Why? This helps you focus on the important information and stay engaged in your reading


    Recite
    Recite out loud or write down the answers to your questions after each section you read:

    • Ask yourself your questions out loud and summarize the answers in your own words
    • Take notes as your answer each question, writing the information in your own words
    • Use repetition – repeat questions and answers multiple times
    • Practice – attempt to answer the questions without looking at the material
    • Make it relatable to your life so that you can remember it better

    Why? This helps you remember what you read and checks your comprehension


    Review
    Review the material and actively use the information to study:

    • At the end of each reading, try to summarize the information to check your comprehension
    • Use your questions and answers to review reading material
    • Identify important information , key points, and vocab terms
    • Make study materials such as flashcards from your reading notes
    • Combine your reading notes with your lecture notes
    • Organize the information into an outline or study guide

    Why?  This helps you understand the material and study for tests and quizzes

     

    From the Office of Academic Support, Niagara University

  • Tips for Writing in College

    How It Differs From Writing in High School

    One of the first things you’ll discover as a college student is that writing in college is different from writing in high school. Certainly a lot of what your high school writing teachers taught you will be useful to you as you approach writing in college: you will want to write clearly, to have an interesting and arguable thesis, to construct paragraphs that are coherent and focused, and so on.

    Still, many students enter college relying on writing strategies that served them well in high school but that won’t serve them well here. Old formulae, such as the five-paragraph theme, aren’t sophisticated or flexible enough to provide a sound structure for a college paper. And many of the old tricks – such as using elevated language or repeating yourself so that you might meet a ten-page requirement – will fail you now.

    So how does a student make a successful transition from high school to college?

    The first thing that you’ll need to understand is that writing in college is for the most part a particular kind of writing, called “academic writing.” While academic writing might be defined in many ways, there are three concepts that you need to understand before you write your first academic paper. 

    1. Academic writing is writing done by scholars for other scholars. Writing done by scholars for scholars? Doesn’t that leave you out? Actually, it doesn’t. Now that you are in college you are part of a community of scholars. As a college student, you will be engaged in activities that scholars have been engaged in for centuries: you will read about, think about, argue about, and write about great ideas. Of course, being a scholar requires that you read, think, argue, and write in certain ways. Your education will help you to understand the expectations, conventions, and requirements of scholarship. If you read on, so will this Web site.

    2. Academic writing is devoted to topics and questions that are of interest to the academic community. When you write an academic paper, you must first try to find a topic or a question that is relevant and appropriate. But how do you know when a topic is relevant and appropriate? First of all, pay attention to what your professor is saying. She will certainly be giving you a context into which you can place your questions and observations. Second, understand that your paper should be of interest to other students and scholars. Remember that academic writing must be more than personal response. You must write something that your readers will find useful. In other words, you will want to write something that helps your reader to better understand your topic, or to see it in a new way.

    3. This brings us to our final point: Academic writing should present the reader with an informed argument. To construct an informed argument, you must first try to sort out what you know about a subject from what you think about a subject. Or, to put it another way, you will want to consider what is known about a subject and then to determine what you think about it. If your paper fails to inform, or if it fails to argue, then it will fail to meet the expectations of the academic reader.

    From the Institute fr Writing & Rhetoric, Dartmouth College 2004

    See also dailywritingtips.com

  • Emailing a Professor

    On addressing your professor

    E-mail to a professor should be treated like a business letter – at least until you know that professor's personal preferences very well. Although e-mail is widely regarded as an informal medium, it is in fact used for business purposes in many settings (including Wellesley College). You won't err if you are too formal, but there is the possibility of committing many gaffes if you are too informal.

    The subject header should be informative. It is not a salutation line, so don't write something like "hey professor" in that line. Instead, write a few words indicating the purpose of your message: "Request for a space in your class," for example. Some professors might give a strict format of how they want their emails to be in the syllabus (i.e. Course#: Subject ,  "COM200: Homework Questions")

    Use professors' names when addressing them. Many professors we queried said that they do not like to be called simply "professor." They prefer "Professor Lee" or "Ms./Mr. Lee"; most tell us that the title itself doesn't matter nearly so much as the fact that you also use their names ("Dr. Lee" does seem to be uncommon at Wellesley, though, just so you know). Some professors will eventually suggest that you call them by their first names, but if you are more comfortable continuing to use a title, that is always fine. Just be sure to use a name. (Note: these comments are true for personal interaction as well as for e-mail).

    Dear, Hi, Hey, or nothing? To some eyes and ears, "Dear Professor Jones" may be too formal for an e-mail message – but in fact it will do just fine when your purpose is a business-like one. Simply writing "Professor Jones" (followed by a comma) is fine, too. Some faculty are sensitive to the word "Hi" as a salutation, whether alone or with a name (e.g., "Hi, Professor Jones"), but others don't mind it and in fact use it themselves. But avoid "hey" – no one we queried likes that one.

    Don't expect an instant response. Although we have all become accustomed to the instantaneous quality of electronic communication, your professors want you to know that they simply cannot always answer a message quickly. Allow them a day or two, or even more, to respond. You can re-send the message if you haven't heard back in five days or so

     

    On e-mail style

    Don't use smiley faces or other emoticons when e-mailing professors, and don't use all those internet acronyms, abbreviations, and shortened spellings (e.g., LOL, or "U" for "you"). Similarly, don't confuse email style with txt style. All of that electronic shorthand signals a level of intimacy (and perhaps of age) that is inappropriate for exchanges with your professors.

    Write grammatically, spell correctly, and avoid silly mistakes. Proofread. Use the spelling checker. Especially double-check for embarrassing errors in your subject header. Show that you care about how you present yourself in writing to your professor.

    Use paragraph breaks to help organize your message. It's hard to read a long unbroken stream of words on a screen. 

     

    On Content

    Don't use e-mail to rant or whine. Sometimes the very appearance of a message can signal "rant": very long paragraphs, no capital letters, no sentence breaks. These are not fun to read, and may well elicit the exact opposite response that you intend. Of course, we are all tempted to rant sometimes in e-mail, so what one professor recommends is this: Sure, rant all you want in an e-mail. But don't send it. Hit the delete button, and then write a more measured message. (Many faculty will tell you that they have files full of unsent messages; they have wisely learned that an e-mail written in the first flush of frustration must be re-crafted and sent with care.) On the other hand, an email in which you direct a constructively worded complaint to the person most able to address such complaints is just fine.

    Keep most messages to under a screen in length; lots of readers will simply defer reading long messages, and then may never come back to them. On the other hand, a very short, terse message may simply be meaningless. Be sure to include enough information so that your reader can understand what you are requesting. Provide a bit of background or context if necessary. State your request clearly.

    Take extra steps to minimize the e-mail exchange; for example, if you are requesting an appointment, state your purpose and name the times that you could come in in your initial message. Your respondent may then be able to answer you with only one additional message.

    Quote selectively and briefly from any prior messages to provide context and background. Although sometimes it's good to quote an entire exchange so as to keep a record of what's been said and decided, often that's unnecessary and simply ends up making a message too long and cluttering the screen.

    Many professors advise that you think about why you are sending an e-mail message. Are you asking something that could easily be checked if you took a few extra steps yourself? For example, e-mailing a professor simply to ask when her office hours are can be annoying when the office hours have been clearly announced on the syllabus already. On the other hand, e- mailing for an appointment is just fine. Are you asking a question privately that might be better asked on the course conference, where all the students might usefully see the response? Are you e-mailing to lodge a complaint or to ask for a letter of recommendation or to seek help with a problem set? In these cases, personal contact and an office visit might be much better.

    Be respectful, and think about what kinds of things might sound odd or offensive to your professor. For example, don't say flippantly that you slept through that professor's class, or talk about your love life, or bash chemistry or math or writing.

     

    Most professors are overwhelmed by the vast number of e-mail messages they receive; some have been shocked by the sheer effrontery of some of those messages; many become frustrated if e-mail consumes so much of their time and emotional energy that they can't then spend valuable personal time with you. We hope these tips will help you - and your professors - conserve some of that emotional energy.

    And as for that emotional energy, here's one last tip: Be kind to yourself if you make an electronic faux pas. All of us – even those who have studied electronic communication for years – have made some pretty monstrous errors. We learn from our mistakes, and we learn to forgive ourselves (and others). 

     

    From Wellesley College Project on Social Computing

  • Practicing Good Classroom Etiquette

    Here are some basic rules for how to behave in class and how to talk with your professors.  Treat your professors with respect and attention.  If you follow these guidelines, you increase the chances that your professors will develop positive impressions of you.

     

    1. Present yourself: Make a good presentation in class by getting to class early, sitting up front, and paying attention. Making a good impression on your professors can only have a positive impact on your grade at the end of the semester.

     

    1. Stay awake: Falling asleep, even for a moment, is rude and is likely to be noticed by your instructor. Besides, when you’re asleep, you can’t learn.

     

    1. Pay attention to the instructor: Don’t talk with your friends, browse social media, have headphones in, or do assignments for other classes.  These behaviors are disrespectful and impair your ability to understand lectures and take useful notes.

     

    1. Attend every class. If you do have to miss a class for team travel, remind your professor in advance. If a last minute emergency keeps you from class, contact your professor as soon as possible; don’t wait until the next class if you can avoid it.  Doing so demonstrates that you are responsible and interested in the class.  Obtain class notes from a fellow student, and ask the instructor for information on any assignments you missed while you were absent.

     

    1. Turn in all your assignments on time. Don’t let your other responsibilities, like being a student athlete or student leader, become an excuse for procrastinating. Yes, you are busy, but take the responsibility to complete your work in advance, especially if you will be off-campus when something is due. Don’t expect special treatment because of your athlete-leader status; instead, put forth extra effort!

     

    1. Come prepared with needed materials. Would you ever go to a competition without equipment, a uniform, or athletic shoes? Not likely!  In the same way, make sure you are prepared for your classes.  Always bring your textbooks, a notebook and writing instruments, and any other materials (such as a course workbook) that you might need.  Be engaged in class!  Do assigned readings before class and participate in class discussions.

     

    1. Read your syllabus. Like a playbook, your course syllabus provides the information you need to be successful in each course. At the beginning of each term, read your syllabi so you know when assignments are due, when exams will be held, what readings are required, and so on.  If you don’t understand the syllabus or need additional information, ask your professor.

     

    1. Stay involved in class until you are excused. Keep your materials out and your attention focused until the professor has finished the lecture and dismissed the class. Getting ready to leave before the end is disrespectful and disruptive.

     

    1. Use a formal title when talking with your professor. Your professor deserves respect. You should address him or her by title and name, such as “Dr. Smith.”  Unless the instructor specifically tells you otherwise, use a formal salutation in all your out-of-class encounters.  If you don’t know if your professor has a Ph.D. or Ed.D, call him/her Professor X (for example, Professor Smith).

     

    1. If you are having problems with the class, talk with your professor. Don’t wait until the end of the term (when little can be done) to complain about the course or the professor’s teaching style. Be self-responsible!  Whether you’re having difficulties with the material or with the professor’s way of teaching, make sure you bring the matter to the professor’s attention as soon as you notice any problem.

     

    1. Have a positive attitude when it comes to class. Having a “this is pointless” attitude will get in the way of your academic success.  Try to think about how this class might help you in your major.  Find something personally interesting in the class material and ask questions. Even thinking about how the information is presented in class will help you be better prepared for the next test is a good way to change your attitude about the class.
  • Strategies for Learning Types

    There is no one best way to learn. As unique individuals, we all have different learning styles and preferences. However, in the course of our lives, we must adapt to a wide range of learning situations-- and it is highly likely that some of these situations will not conform to our strengths. The trick is to continually to build on our strengths while developing other strategies and skills. 

    Below provides explanations for some of the major categories of learning styles and suggests strategies for effective learning.

     

    Visual

    Visual learners learn best from what they see: diagrams, flowcharts, time lines, films, and demonstrations. 

    • Add diagrams to your notes whenever possible.
    • Organize notes so that you can clearly see main points and supporting facts and how ideas are connected.
    • Use visual organizers (graphs, charts, symbols, etc.) to help show relationships between concepts/ideas.
    • Color-code notes to help you to see categories of information.
    • Use visualization as a way to study/prepare for tests and to retrieve information.

    Verbal

    Verbal learners gain the most learning from reading, hearing spoken words, participating in discussions, and explaining things to others.

    • Attend lectures and tutorials.
    • Ask questions to hear more information.
    • Read the textbook and highlight no more than 10%.
    • Record lectures (with permission).
    • Rewrite your notes and add what you missed from the tape.
    • Recite or summarize information.
    • Talk about what you learn. Work in study groups.
    • Review information by listening to tapes you have recorded.

    Active/Tactile

    Active learners need to experience knowledge through their own actions either by "doing" or by getting personally involved in their learning. They prefer quick paced instruction-- and instructors that keeps things moving. 

    • Utilize as many senses as possible while learning.
    • Go to labs, exhibits, tours, etc. to experience the concepts being learned.
    • Try out example problems and questions.
    • Study in a group.
    • Relate the information to concrete examples as you read or listen in lectures.
    • Think about how you will apply the information being presented.
    • Pace and recite while you learn.
    • Act out material or design learning games.
    • Use flash cards with other people.
    • Teach the material to someone else.

    Reflective

    Reflective learners understand information best when they have had time to reflect on it on their own (and at their own pace).

    • Study in a quiet setting.
    • When you are reading, stop periodically to think about what you have read.
    • Don't just memorize material; think about why it is important and how ideas are related.
    • Write short summaries of what the material means to you.

    Factual

    Factual learners prefer concrete, specific facts, data, and detailed experimentation.

    • Ask the instructor how ideas and concepts apply in practice.
    • Ask for specific examples of the ideas and concepts.
    • Brainstorm specific examples with classmates or by yourself.
    • Think about how theories make specific connections with the real world.

    Theoretical

    Theoretical learners are more comfortable with big-picture ideas, symbols, and new concepts. 

    • If a class deals primarily with factual information, try to think of concepts, interpretations, or theories that link the facts together.
    • Because you become impatient with details, take the time to read directions and test questions before answering, and be sure to check your work.
    • Look for systems and patterns to arrange facts in a way that makes sense to you.
    • Spend time analyzing the material. 

    Linear (Left Brain) 

    Linear thinkers find it easiest to learn material presented step by step in a logical, ordered progression. They can work with sections of material without fully understanding the whole picture.

    • Choose highly structured courses and instructors.
    • If you have an instructor who jumps around from topic to topic, spend time outside of class with the instructor or a classmate who can help you fill the gaps in your notes. (Use mapping techniques for taking notes.) 
    • If class notes are random, rewrite the material according to whatever logic helps you to understand it. 
    • Outline the material.

    Holistic (Right Brain)

    Holistic thinkers progress in fits and starts. They may feel lost and unable to solve problems, until they can see the big picture and the relationships between ideas. They need to make sense of details. They tend to be creative. 

    • Recognize that you are not slow or stupid.
    • Before reading the chapter, preview it by reading all the subheadings, summaries, and any margin glossary terms.
    • Instead of spending a short time on every subject every night, try immersing yourself in just one subject at a time.
    • To concentrate on one course at a time, take difficult subjects in summer school or when you have fewer courses. (Warning: Make sure you have enough time to study and to prepare projects and papers. The same amount of material is covered in a shorter time in summer and intersession classes.)
    • Relate subjects to things you already know. Ask yourself how you would apply the material.
    • Use maps and visual organizers to help yourself get the big picture

     

    From Special Populations Office, Bucks County Community College 1997

  • How to Be Successful On the Road - A Guide to Student-Athlete Team Travel

    Before Leaving:

    • Give your travel letter to all of your professors the first week of the semester or as soon as they become available. Explain what your letter is – don’t just hand it to them or leave it on their desks.
    • It is your responsibility as a student-athlete to communicate AHEAD OF TIME with your professor or instructor regarding missing classes for competition. It is also YOUR responsibility to arrange to complete any missed work in agreement with your instructor’s wishes.  Student-athletes are still required to complete all assignments, exams, presentations, etc., even if traveling for competition makes it difficult to do so.
    • Know the exact dates of the classes you will be missing when traveling.
    • Write down your travel dates in your agenda or on your Semester Planner.
    • If you will be missing class, remind your instructor of the days you will be missing the week before you leave.
    • The week leading up to your travel date, get organized. If you know you will have a lot of work to do, get as much done as possible before
    • If you know you will be missing an exam, arrange before It is not acceptable to simply not show up on exam day and expecting there not to be consequences.  Arrange a time to take the exam before leaving or after returning.
    • Make a to-do list of what you need to get accomplished for classes while you are on the road and stick to it!
    • Make note cards or study guides before leaving since writing on the bus can be difficult.
    • If you have online assignments due while you will be traveling, submit them early or ask your coach if the hotel you will be staying in will have internet.
    • Get online exams and quizzes done before You don’t want to be half-way through an exam just to have the internet go down or Blackboard quit unexpectedly.  You may also not have reliable internet access.
    • Charge your laptop and phone completely before leaving. Don’t forget to pack your chargers, too!
    • Know if any course information is posted online (PowerPoint, lectures, notes).
    • Find someone in your class you can count on to take notes for you while you will be gone.
    • Make sure to reschedule any meetings, such as mentoring or tutoring sessions.
    • If you are not traveling, you are expected to be in class. Otherwise, these absences will be unexcused.

    During the Trip:

    • Make sure to pack study materials, but only bring the books and materials you need on the bus/plane trip. You don’t want to lug around unnecessary materials.
    • If you know a big project or paper will be due when you are traveling or soon after your return, make it a priority while you are on the road.
    • Instead of watching the movies being played on the bus, look through your notes, do assigned readings, or quiz yourself with the note cards.
    • Bring a fully charged laptop with a power cable on the bus so you can begin writing papers, etc.
    • Take advantage of down time in the hotel (if you have any) to get work done. If you can’t focus in your room, go down to the lobby or find a place that is suitable for you to get work done.
    • Form study groups with your teammates in your classes. Quiz each other on the bus or in the hotel.
    • Review what will be coming up in the next couple of days after you return. You don’t want to fall behind!
    • Study in shorter, more frequent segments.
    • Be sure to check your school email, even when you are traveling, in case your instructor sends you important information.
    • Though homework is important, so is sleep. Try to get 8 hours of sleep per night to ensure your success on and off the field.

    When You Return:

    • Get the notes and collect any information or materials you missed from the professor or from friends in your class.
    • If you are making up a quiz or exam when you return, make sure you know the details (where and when).
    • Follow up with your professor if you have any questions or concerns.
    •  

    Adapted from “How Can Student-Athletes Use Their Time Effectively on the Road?” by Katie J. Spence, St. Lawrence University

  • Setting Academic Course Goals Tips
    1. Goals help you be who you want to be. You can have all the dreams in the world, but if you don’t act on them, how will you get where you want to go?

     

    1. Goals stretch your comfort zone. Goals involve risks. Pushing yourself past your normal comfort zone is a great way to grow.

     

    1. Goals boost your confidence. When you set a goal and reach it, you prove to yourself and others that you’ve got what it takes to get things done.

     

    1. Goals give your life purpose. Goals show you – and the world – what you value. They also give you a sense of direction.

     

    1. Goals make you more self-reliant. You don’t have to let other people decide your life for you. You can take charge of your life by setting goals and making plans to reach them.

     

    1. Goals encourage you to trust your decisions. Sometimes, it’s easy to go along with the crowd or be swayed by what other people want you to do. Nevertheless, when you keep your goals in mind, your choices will become clearer. You’ll learn to trust your decisions because they’re right for you.

     

    1. Goals help you turn the impossible into the possible. Goal setting breaks down seemingly out-of-reach dreams into small, manageable, and practical steps. You can turn your “someday” dreams into real-life accomplishments.

     

    1. Goals prove that you can make a difference. Are your goals about changing your own life? Are they about changing the lives of others and improving the world? Whether you want to make a difference in your own life or someone else’s, goal setting helps you achieve what you set out to do – one step at a time.

     

    1. Goals improve your outlook on life. They help you move forward – a positive direction to go. The momentum is a real energizer. You’ll feel more positive, guaranteed.

     

    1. Goals lead to feelings of satisfaction. Studies have shown that people who set and reach goals perform at higher levels, are more satisfied with themselves, and achieve more. If you look at the goal setters you know and admire (friends, family members, teachers, business owners, community leaders, athletes, celebrities), you’ll probably see people who are proud of their success and eager to keep aiming for more in life.

     

    Adapted from What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go For It! A Guide for Teens by Beverly K. Bachel, copyright © 2001.  Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 1-866-703-7322; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

  • Academic Goal Setting – Make Your Goals SMART!

    How to set realistic and attainable goals:  Make your goals SMART!

    A usable and motivating goal is one that clearly defines what you want to accomplish, how you will accomplish it, and when you start and finish. Setting short and long-term academic goals helps you to stay motivated to do well in school and lets you measure your progress.

    Specific:  Goals that are vague are difficult to accomplish.  If your goal is to “get in better shape,” you need to refine it to focus on the specifics of getting in shape. For example, you might describe the exercise program you are going to use.

    Measurable: How will you check in with your progress to know that you are achieving your goal?

    Aggressive:  (aka, Challenging) – Does this goal challenge you enough? Goals that make you stretch are more intrinsically motivating. Also, think about what is challenging about your goal.  What obstacles are in the way? Do you need to practice or work up to your ultimate goal? Sometimes setting smaller, mini goals is a good step towards setting larger, longer-term goals.

    Realistic: Is this goal realistic given the amount of time, energy, and commitment you are willing to put in?  Goals that seem unreachable can be discouraging and lessen your motivation.  Find a way to make your goal more realistic without letting yourself off the hook. What changes can you make that will help you work towards your goal more easily?

    Time bound: Do you have a start date and an end date?  Tasks will expand to fit the time you have. Deadlines are motivators and can help you avoid procrastination but you also must take the first step of actually starting your goal!

    How to Use Goals to Stay Motivated

    After your goals are set, the hard work begins. Having goals is a good thing, but you must also set a plan to accomplish them and work towards them every day.  Maintaining your motivation is a balancing act between all of your competing priorities and it is easy to get derailed by other factors. MAKE A PLAN TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS!

    • Write down your goal with a plan for accomplishing it and keep it somewhere you will see it often.
    • Ask yourself WHY you want to accomplish your goal. Is this a goal you truly care about? Why is it important to you that you achieve this goal?  Remind yourself of this often!
    • Explore your BELIEFS about your goal. Do you feel that you are capable of accomplishing this, or do you need to change your mindset?
    • Find a motivator! Get help with your goals if you need it, and find someone who can help you stay motivated.
    • Reward yourself for making progress in your goal. Set attainable benchmarks so you can see your progress.