Archive for the ‘exams’ Category

The Five Step FormulaOne simple thing that students can do to improve their grades, is to read their textbooks and read them at the right times! I am going to give you a 5-step formula that is very simple, but will make a HUGE difference in your understanding of new material and in your grades. This formula should be used every time you are tackling new material for your class:

Step 1: Consult your syllabus the day before each class, and see what is going to be covered in your next lecture. Then, read the corresponding textbook material during the 24 hours before the next class. Take notes using the Cornell method, and leave spaces between each topic, so you can add to them during the lecture, if needed.

Step 2: Go to class, and during the lecture, add to your notes any time you see things you missed, or if you need to clarify things.

Step 3: Review your notes (including the material covered in class) within 20 minutes after the lecture. (If you go to another class right after that one, review while you are waiting for the next class to start.) Edit, or add to your notes, as needed.

Step 4: Conduct another review of this material within 24 hours, and write study questions for the material.

Step 5: Review again in a week and any time you have a chance, go over your study questions. (See this post on portable flash cards.)

Keep track of these reviews in your planner, or each time you finish a review, write the day you should conduct the next review at the top of the page. After you have completed these five steps, you have established pretty solid bank of memories you can draw from during your next exam. If you will be having a comprehensive final exam, continue to skim/review the material every 3-4 weeks to keep it active in your memory throughout the semester.

This process is tight. You will learn and retain information better than ever, and will be far less stressed that you would be if you were cramming for every exam.

Good luck!

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  1. Study at a DESK!You need to be comfortable, but you also need to be in a place that helps you stay alert and focused. Studying in a bed encourages sleep, not learning.
    2. Exercise helps.Studies have shown that mental function improves with exercise and results in better memory. Research also shows that listening to music while exercising boosts cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills.
    3. Your brain needs real food. Donuts and coffee don’t cut it. The neurotransmitters in your brain are made from amino acids, which are derived from the protein in your diet. So, you need to choose high-protein foods such as cheese, eggs, meats or nuts, rather than high-carbohydrate crackers, chips, cookies or juice.
    4. Drink lots of WATER! Did you know that dehydration can lead to fatigue and lack of ability to focus? Choose more water over coffee, and keep your water chilled for added alertness.
    5. Get to know your professors! Ask questions during, before or after class. Take advantage of office hours. Ask for clarification when you do not completely understand something. Ask for suggestion on supplemental materials. These things can make a difference between an “A” or a “B”!
    6. Buy the textbook. The textbook is not optional; I don’t care what anyone tells you. If you struggling with budget, see if an older addition of the text is available, or even a digital version. But, you MUST have a textbook in order to do what you need to do.
    7. Be realistic. If you know you will consistently sleep through an 8 am class, there is no reason to sign up for it. Make a schedule you can actually keep.
    8. Use all of the helps on campus. My campus has a writing lab, a walk-in math and science lab, peer tutoring, a speech lab, and many computer/printing centers throughout the campus. And, all of these services are FREE. Find out what your college offers and take advantage. A little bit of help can easily boost your grades.
    9. You must study if you want good grades. I know you may have cruised through high school, but college is different. Instructors expect you to do the majority of work outside of class, and classes move twice as fast. Multiply the number of credit hours you are taking by 1, 2 or 3, depending on the level of difficulty. That is how many hours you need to be studying a week for each class. No, I’m not kidding.
    10. Study Groups Help. One semester, I was in a particularly difficult medieval literature class, and I was pretty sure that class was going to jeopardize my 4.0 grade point average. I didn’t know anyone in the class, but I was able to form a study group by sending a group email to class members via Blackboard, and we ended up with 8-10 people in the group. I don’t think I would have made an “A” without that group. It is a great way to clarify your understanding, revise and add to your class notes, discuss topics is greater depth, and come closer to mastering the material.

my angry professor graphicI frequently work with struggling students at the college, and many of them are having difficulty in one or more classes. When I meet new students for the first time, we discuss their classes and try to identify the root of their academic struggles. This helps me to come up with a game plan to improve his or her grades.

During the discussion, one thing i have heard many times is, “My professor hates me!”

Could it be true? Could a professor really hate a student?

The truth is, we are all flawed human beings, and it would be disingenuous for me to say it was impossible for this to happen. There certainly may be personality conflicts or relationships that get off on the wrong foot, which can create a less-than-perfect scenerio for the professor/student relationship.

If you are in a situation where you feel the professor does not like you, here are some tips for survival:

1. Don’t gossip about your professor! Nothing good that can come from this! If you absolutely need to vent, keep it within the circle of your closest confidants.

2. Don’t lose your temper in class. I remember being in a class where a professor was being incredibly hard on a particular student’s written work during the class discussion. The student didn’t take it well and began a heated debate with the instructor. Other students in the class were uncomfortable, nothing about the conversation helped the situation, and in the end, the student was kicked out of the class. As difficult as it is, take the high road and bite your tongue.

3. Don’t purposely bug your professor. I know… it is kind of like you have an itch that you want to scratch… but, it is a path to self-destruction and escalation.

Instead, here is what you DO:

1. Do start with a little self-examination. Has your attitude been good? Do you arrive at class on time? Have you been doing your work? Are you cooperative and helpful class? Do you pay attention (or do you text or otherwise goof off in class)? If you are behaving in ways that are distracting or are disrespectful, then the first thing you need to do is change yourself and your own attitude. Admit where you are wrong and fix it.

2. Do look at the BIG picture… Look at the impact it will have on  your academic progress. Is it early enough in the semester to drop the class and take something else? Or, can you take the same class with a different instructor? What impact will dropping a class have on your financial aid, your timely degree completion and other things?

3. Do talk to your professor in his or her office. Avoid being confrontational, but tell the professor your perception and see what kind of reaction  you get. If the professor really does not like you and admits it, you might be better off just dropping the class. If your professor denies it, and especially if he or she is apologetic, you may want to hang on to the class. Trust your gut.

4. Do your best. If you have to stay in the class, keep your nose clean, make it a priority to keep up with the work, and you may want to keep your mouth shut as much as possible, especially if you can see that your participation just annoys the professor. Document everything by keeping assignment sheets, your returned work, and any written feedback you receive from your professor.

5. Do try to stay positive (or fake that you are). A negative attitude, a scowl in class, or not completing work will only hurt yourself.

Summer is here and whether you are taking summer classes or not, you may have found that your fitness level declined a little during the academic year. In my years as a student, and as an instructor, I have seen many students pack on some extra poundage during the semester. Students are often busy and less physically active. But, they also may tend to snack while studying and carry around a lot of stress which can lead to weight gain.  Image

Nevertheless, one of your biggest challenges might be squeezing physical activity into your packed days. I am the queen of multi-tasking, and I often combine my fitness routines with other things. I mentioned in a previous post that I like to secure my flash cards with a ring, or purchase the  and then carried in your purse for quick study opportunities. They can also be carried around while taking a brisk walk, or while using a stationery bike or treadmill. You can also combine some quick exercise with some of your daily routines. For example, when you are blow drying your hair or brushing your teeth, do squats! Pay attention to your form, making sure you are keeping your back straight, and bending your legs deeply enough to feel the burn. This is a great way to sneak a little extra exercise into your day without sacrificing any of your precious study time! Try it and share your experience in the comments!

Quotation-Michael-Treanor-soul-exercise-Meetville-Quotes-176702

 

myndology

The Myndology flash cards are my favorite flash cards. I used them exclusively for my college classes. Why do I like them so much? They are especially great if you are frequently on the move, if you have to memorize a lot of facts or vocabulary words, and if you like to have an easy way to study during short breaks throughout the day.

  • The ring on each set, keeps the cards all together, which makes them extremely portable, even when you are truly on the move! I kept all of my current cards in my purse, which allowed me to pull them out and study whenever I found myself with a few spare minutes. When I was taking Spanish classes, I used them to help me memorize vocabulary and verb conjugation charts, and I took them with me when I took my daily walks. I also used them at the gym when walking on the treadmill or using the stationary bike. Because of the rings, I didn’t have to worry that I would drop the cards and have them blow away, jam up the treadmill or get mixed up.
  • The cards also lend themselves well to organizing by color or sections. The Muse card sets have both white and accent colors. The Ergo style cards are white and include two colored cards that you can use as dividers. The Neon card set has five different colors of cards in each set. When I was memorizing Spanish vocabulary, I used the colors to group together different types of words. When memorizing Historical Geology terms I color coded them with these cards, as well.
  • The cards can be secured with the cover. This keeps them from sprawling out in my backpack or purse, which prevents them from getting bent up, and also keeps my bag neater. When I am finished with a set of cards, I can write a description of the contents on the spine, and thenstore them neatly in a small storage box I keep on my desk. If I need the cards again for review or for a comprehensive exam, I have them handy and well-organized due to the neatly closed packaging these card sets provide.

These little cards worked so well for me, I earned “A’s” in my classes. They come in different sizes, so if I’m learning something that doesn’t take much space, like vocabulary words, I can use the 1″ X 3″ cards. If I need to put something larger on the cards, like verb conjugation charts, I can use one of the larger sizes.

Myndology Flash Cards

As an English major, finals week usually involved countless hours sitting on my rear, with bleary eyes staring at the computer screen, conducting research and writing lengthy term papers. After a while I would begin getting drowsy or just feel the need to move. Do you relate? While taking a break can be beneficial, the risk is getting distracted and not coming back to it soon enough….. or not at all! 

I always tell my students to time the breaks ! I would suggest setting a timer for 15-30 minutes. And, what should you do? In my experience, taking a quick walk, doing some exercises, or any other physical activity can be especially helpful. It relieves stress, wakes you up, and gives your bum a break from sitting! Also, I’d suggest getting a drink, having a healthy snack, or whatever you need to revive your mind and body. However, as soon as your timer goes off, don’t procrastinate….. get back to studying!

Check out the link below to find a great chart for doing a full body workout in just 7 minutes! It fits perfectly into a study break and is great for your mind and body! 

7-Minute Research-Based Full Body Workout!

Let’s face it, sometimes getting started is half the battle. If you deal with procrastination or tend to lose track of time, there is an inexpensive and simple tool you can use to help you out. Buy a TIMER. In my opinion, it is one of the best and most necessary time management tools. How does it help? Well, let’s say you need to study for a test, but you find yourself playing Farkle, sharpening pencils, cleaning out your backpack, etc. A lot of us tend to “get busy” when we are procratinating because it disguises our procrastination, because we feel like we are doing something. So the first step is to recognize what procrastination looks like in your life!

Once you have your timer, this is what you do. Make a deal with yourself that you will start whatever task it is, and will do that task for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes is pretty easy to do, right? Sit down with your study materials and set the timer, and go at it! When the timer goes off, you have earned a break. (However, if you feel like you want to continue, set the timer for another fifteen minutes and GO!) If you take a break, be sure to time your break, too! Allow 15 minutes breaks, at least every hour of study.

This really is a great tool and will generally cost you less than $10. Personally, I like the ticking timer, because it helps me to remember to stay focused. But, if you work best in silence, a digital timer is better for you.