We are now squarely in the middle of fall semester and are facing one of the most challenging times of the year. With first exams under our belts, round two is either here or close at hand. Whether you feel like you’re sacrificing one class for the sake of the rest or all for the sake of one, here are some ways to stop the bleeding and improve a suffering grade.
1. Get to know your professor.
This is something a lot of students struggle with, perhaps due to intimidation. It’s okay to ask your TA for help, but attend your professor’s office hours as well. In most cases, professors give study tips and hints that are more relevant to the questions you can expect to see on the exam. Professors often appreciate students who are clearly trying their hardest in the class and take this into consideration when entering final grades.
2. Find a study group.
The benefits of joining a study group are substantial. When you’re with other people, you can implement one of the most effective learning methods: see it, do it and teach it. If there is a concept you don’t understand, chances are someone in your group does. If there’s a tricky math problem you don’t understand, getting someone to show you how to do the problem is step one--see it. Then try answering a similar question, perhaps from your textbook, on your own--do it. The final step is explaining the previously confusing concept to someone else–teach it. Talking through a process is the best way to confirm that you have truly mastered it.
3. Pace yourself.
The key to studying is finding a good pace. If you wait until the night or even the week before a big test to start studying, you may end up having to cram a lot of material. The result? A poor test grade. Setting a pace sounds nice in theory but is easier said than done, especially during midterm week. Junior Connor Bartholomew added “study[ing] for three exams at once is difficult.” It’s surprising how exams can sneak up on us. Creating an exam schedule and posting it in your room or living space can help prevent panic-induced cram sessions. Also schedule in mandatory study dates with yourself or your study group before exams. Hold yourself accountable to these appointments by checking or highlighting them on your schedule.