An exam is an exam, whether it’s on paper or on a screen. But there are a few more blessings than curses involved with taking exams in an online course – here’s ten of them:
- Play your lectures back at high speed
Though it won’t be the most sweet-sounding thing in the world, bumping up the playback speed button on recorded lectures is a great refresher before your exam, and a good way to find topics you want to review. Click on the tools icon on the player and select the playback speed tab to do this. Warning: people thinking you’re binge-watching Alvin and the Chipmunks is an occupational hazard.
- Condense and refine your notes
Just like a pencil, sharpen your notes leading up to the exam – go over the notes you’ve already written and hone them to a fine point. Try to distill them down to almost one word items so you know you know you’ve got it, you know?
- Make online study groups
They say good things come in threes, so why not fours or fives? Use social media to create online study groups, where you can have a group chat to coordinate study times, a group Google Drive or Dropbox to share files, and group study sessions on Skype or Google Hangouts.
- Share a note document with classmates
This goes hand in hand with making online study groups. Share an online doc where you can all contribute your notes and make a super-note document. Leap higher learning in a single bound!
- Use CSAS Online exam prep workshop
Did you know the Centre for Student Academic Support has an online module to help prepare you for exams? Well now you do. The 45-minute long workshop offers guidance on study methods, test taking procedures, and how to manage test-taking anxiety. If you were going to spend 45 minutes sweating over how you should even start studying, this is where you should go first.
- Use Flashcards like StudyBlue/Anki
Flashcard websites and software like StudyBlue and Anki are fantastic ways to flex your memory muscles. You can create your own deck of study cards with questions and concepts on the front and the answers on the back, or if you’re lucky you can use the search function on StudyBlue and discover that someone may have already made a deck for your course you can use.
- Schedule your study times
It probably isn’t that shocking to hear that pouring hours’ worth of information into your head all at once, whether it’s watching lectures or speeding through study cards, isn’t the most productive way to study. Schedule study times in half-hour intervals – these short bursts maximize your attention span and give you the opportunity to take breaks when you need to.
- Ask your professor how they suggest studying for this exam
This one can be a bit of a gamble, but you’d be surprised how many professors are willing to suggest methods of attacking the material they’ve assigned in ways you might never have considered before. What’s the worst that can happen you ask? A simple no from your professor.
- Pick questions from previous quizzes
How many times have you seen the same or similar questions from previous tests and quizzes on your exams? Enough to think it’s probably a good idea to study your old tests and quizzes before you get to the final. Pick a few questions that really stood out to you from past tests and study them to get your mind in gear.
- Take breaks
This one is a life saver, if done correctly. Allow your mind the time to wander when it needs to, just keep it on a short leash. An intentional five or ten minute break is great for productivity because you know you’re not supposed to be productive during that time – just remember the study clock is always ticking. Check out the Pomodoro Technique – it might work for you!
By Matthew Curtis, Fourth-Year Journalism, Carleton
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