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Tips on Surviving Midterms (and other exams too!)

November 19, 2010

Written By Brian Williams, Student Services Advisor

Exams are one of the most important events of any student’s college experience – and can also be one of the most stressful. Everyone experiences exam anxiety in different ways, and with midterms approaching we in the Student Services Department would like to provide some tips and strategies to help you be more successful on all of your future exams!

Take a good look at the environment in which you study for your exams. Good study locations are quiet, well lit, and free from distractions. Study during the best times for you; when you are most alert and can eliminate as many outside distractions as possible. The more focused you are, the more information you’ll retain.

Once you’ve found a good study spot, make sure you know what type of exam you’re studying for. Is it multiple choice, short essay, long essay, or a combination? Find out if your exam has a time limit, and how many times you may access the exam. We hear from students every term who log into an exam, print it out, and study it, only to realize that they can only access the exam once. If you’re unsure, ask your professor before you start the exam. Make sure you know the exact deadlines and due dates for your exams. Instructors may not accept late exams, so make sure to check dates and mark them on your calendar at the start of each term. Check your class announcements frequently, especially in the week leading up to an exam. Logging in Monday to get your exam date, and then not logging in again until the day the exam is due, can mean that you miss updates, changes, or clarification the professor may post. Don’t let this happen to you!

Now that you’ve found a place to study, know what to study for, and know when your test is due, it’s time to begin studying. Don’t wait until the last minute! Just because an exam is due Saturday night does not mean you should wait until Saturday morning to start studying for it. To avoid fatigue, plan several short study breaks rather than cramming everything into one long session. Review what you have learned by going over past assignments and notes. If something in particular stands out as needing additional review, create flashcards or have a friend quiz you. Just the act of writing out the flas cards is a great study tool. If you have any questions about your exam material, please contact your instructor early to give her time to reply to you.

If you start to feel stressed, remember that this is information you’ve already learned! Studying for exams can feel overwhelming if you focus on how much material there is to cover. You’re not learning this information – you are just refreshing it in your memory!

Now that you’ve studied, studied, and studied again, it’s time to take the exam. Here are a few things you can do to make sure if anything goes wrong, you’re prepared.

Have your professor’s contact information handy. Things happen. people get sick, bad weather strikes, and power goes out. Your professors understand, but the earlier they are informed the more they can do to help. Write down the phone number for your instructor, Student Services Specialist, the IT Helpline, and keep them all someplace safe. This way you can call even if you don’t have access to HcNet. Have a back-up location in mind in case something happens to your computer before your exam. Exams are no exception to the rule that you are responsible for having a working computer and internet access at all times. It’s always a good idea to have a technology back-up plan.

If the worst case scenario strikes and you lose computer access during your exam, stay calm and follow these steps:

  1. Call the 24 hour IT support line. Let them know that you were attempting to take an exam and lost internet access. They will create a ticket that will allow us to see when you called. Write down that ticket number and save it somewhere safe.
  2. Call your instructor. If they don’t answer, leave a message. Let them know you were attempting an exam and got locked out. Include at what time this occurred, at what time you are calling, and that you have already called IT. If your computer access has been restored, send them a message through the classroom with the same information.
  3. Call your Student Services Specialist. Again, let us know what happened, at what time it happened, and who you have already contacted. Let us know your IT ticket number as well.

Even if you are unable to reach your instructor and Student Services Specialist, stay calm. By leaving us messages, and by contacting the IT department, you have done everything you can for now. Follow up if you have not received a reply within 24 hours.

If you have unanswered questions or need more direction regarding your exams, please contact your instructors as soon as possible. As always, if you have any issues that are preventing you from completing your work (exam or otherwise), contact your instructors and Student Services Specialist immediately.

Everyone in the Student Services Department hopes that you will find these tips helpful, and wishes you best of luck with your upcoming midterms!

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