Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Midterms? Make Your Study Time Count!

When are your midterms?! I have a couple next week, right after Fall Break, so at least a portion of the break will be spent studying. But how should we study effectively so that it pays off in good grades? I’ve heard students lamenting that they study but still end up with a lower grade than hoped for, and I've heard students asking for help. So I asked a teacher and an “A” student for their advice. 

Leslie LaChance, English faculty

For classes in which reading is important (literature classes, history classes), I recommend that students have printed rather than electronic texts.  I also recommend that they take notes directly in the text, highlighting, underlining, writing little summaries of important points in the margins, writing out the meaning of new vocabulary.  If a teacher calls attention to a particular part of a text, make note of it, underline it, etc. Then, when it is time to prepare for an exam, return to the passages you have marked, review them carefully, and closely, making a separate page of notes as part of your review.

I often see students taking pictures of something a faculty member has written on the board.  That’s fine, but current research is suggesting that the physical act of actually writing something down can increase retention of that information, so rewriting lecture notes you’ve taken pictures of in class is another helpful study technique.


(My note: In the textbooks that I rent, I keep a notebook beside me and take notes on anything that seems important, just as I would during a lecture.)

Sheridan Hitchcox, student

Don’t wait until the last minute and cram! Go over your most difficult subjects every day and stay confident. Copy everything by hand, including handouts: the act of writing it builds up muscle memory, and that helps when it’s time to take a test.

I make flashcards of everything. I try to imagine how a question might be asked on a test and make a card of it. Sometimes I ask a family member to go over the flashcards with me.

(Sheridan also recommends the YouTube channel Crash Course  if you’re confused about a concept in subjects like History or Biology.)


Don't forget that the Language Center is available for help with papers, and instructors are waiting for your math questions in the Learning Commons or at tutor.com, which can accessed from your elearn account. 


Do you have a preferred method that helps you make the grade? Share in the comments!


Gaynell Buffinet Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners

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