Student Success Strategy #74: Gearing up for Finals!

The semester is about two-thirds done by now, and you are feeling the post-midterm slump.  You have lost some of your motivation and excitement from classes, even those within your areas of interest.  Don’t stop now!

Even if you are happy with your progress throughout the semester, and your grades so far, you need to find a way to gear up for finals.

This is a great time to refine your study habits.

Have you been keeping up with all your assignments?  Make it a goal to finish those in the next few weeks two days early, and use the two extra days to review material from the first weeks of class.

Have you been taking great notes?  After reviewing them in the evening after your class, take an extra ten minutes to review notes from the beginning of the semester, going through two or three class periods of notes each night.

Have you been studying alone?  Make arrangements for a session or two with a friend in the class, and see whether your early notes can be combined for even greater understanding.  Then discuss what is left of the semester and how to keep each other on track.

Having a study partner, whether you actually study together or just check in with each other, can help you maintain progress throughout the semester.  A simple question – “Did you finish your work yesterday?” – can remind you that even a single day lost may make a difference.  Letting each other know what you need to do, and including an early review of material long past, can set you up for easier times near finals week.

Learning, and remembering what you have learned, is easier with frequent repetition and review rather than cramming.  Start now, and you won’t have to stress over the approach of final exams.

Student Success Strategy #74:  Gear up for finals.  Do it early.  Do it easy.  

Student Success Strategy #67: Doodles

What do your handwritten notes look like?  Are there squiggles, stars, or other non-text doodles in the margins?  Why not make them fun AND useful?

Instead of random doodling, draw a quick picture of something that would remind you of the main points in your notes?  Sure, it’s easy if you need to label parts of a cell, but be creative.  Is there a quick picture you could draw next to the main points you need to remember.

How many times have you “looked” inside your brain and seen the page where information appears, and you know exactly where on that page the information you need is written?  Adding a small picture will make it more easily spotted in your brain.

Even a star, an underline, or a colored highlighter will help, but if you can add a picture with meaning, your brain will make a stronger association and will be more likely to recall the information when you are under the stress of a test.

Try it!  You know you are doodling anyway.

Student Success Strategy #67:  Make doodling a study strategy to remember important material more easily.

Student Success Strategy #53: Dictionary? Textbook?

Once upon a time, freshmen entering college were advised to purchase and bring a college-level dictionary to school.  It was a hardback book, hundreds of pages long, with tiny printing.  Students often used it more for a door stop than an educational resource, but it became important while reading textbooks before tests.  All those terms that you could skip while skimming suddenly became important to understand.

Today, textbooks almost always have glossaries either in the back of the book, or within each chapter.

Success in college comes from understanding the materials you are using.  This means more than skimming, and it should mean that you can use and define the terms in each discipline or field.

Just like the word “strike” is bad for a baseball player at bat but good for a bowler, you may find that each subject has it’s own set of terms that may mean different things within that class.

A dictionary might help you with this, but the glossary in your textbooks will be most useful.  If you are taking notes on your text or in lectures, it’s a good idea to define these terms prominently.

The Cornell method of note taking is especially good for this, as there is a space at the bottom for extra comments, translations, or summaries.  Flashcards are also great for learning unfamiliar terms.

Student Success Strategy #53:  Dictionary?  Textbook?  Learn the correct terms as they apply to the specific class.