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6 Steps to Taking Challenging College Courses

Some classes come easy for people and others don’t. When you find yourself struggling with a class in college, there are several steps you can take to try and improve your understanding of the material, and in turn, your final grade.

Voice Your Concerns
Email is one of the most popular forms of communication, but there is no replacement for speaking with someone in person. Most professors have office hours available. Make an appointment and use that time to discuss exactly what you’re struggling with one-on-one. Show them you’re committed to the class. If you have concerns about assignments or exams, bring up those specific concerns and ask if they have any recommendations for you. They may be able to put you in touch with a tutor or study group.

Ask About Extra Credit
Some college professors believe in extra credit and others don’t. It never hurts to ask. If you’re doing your best, but you really need something to bump your grade up, politely ask your professor if there is anything else you can do to earn an extra grade. Sometimes writing an extra paper or doing an extra project can make a huge difference in your final grade.

Step Up Your Study Time
Dedicate a specific day and time to studying just for the class you are having trouble with. Each study session, review what you did in class that week. Make notes about the concepts you’re still struggling with and discuss them with your professor. Read the material for the following week so you can really focus on the key concepts as your professor covers them.

Study What Is Important
When you’re preparing for an exam, spend the majority of your time studying concepts that were covered very well in class. Spend less time studying those that your professor brushed over. You may need to know them, but you likely need to know less about them if they were only briefly mentioned.

Think Through Your Struggles
Ask yourself why you’re having trouble with this particular class so you can learn from the experience. If the class is too late or early in the day and you’re having trouble focusing, see if it’s offered at a time that’s better for you. If you find the professor to be very hands-off or their teaching style is difficult for you, see if the same course is taught by another professor. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, or are regularly missing the class, make a conscious effort to eliminate those problems.

Visit Your Advisor
Express your concerns about the class to your advisor and ask if there are any resources on campus to help you. He or she may be able to recommend a study group or tutor that your professor isn’t aware of. If the class becomes too much and is not a requirement for your major, you may decide to drop it. Always discuss this with your advisor first. You should be aware of all drop dates, deadlines, any fees and any possible repercussions of your choice.

You may be surprised at what you’re able to overcome and accomplish when you put your mind to it. Use the tips above when you’re met with a challenging course. The lessons you learn from your struggles will benefit you as a professional in the future as well.

Exam Study Tips For University Students

You need a strategy to ace your examinations while also keeping your study-life balance in poise. It is different at every stage during your academic career and most likely to get extremely tough as you reach your undergraduate and graduate level studies. Here are a few exam study tips for university students that will help you get over strategically with your worst nightmare so you can truly enjoy the success which waits for you at the other end.

Procrastination is Destruction

You might have been lucky enough to get away with your exam troubles by preparing a day before it previously but it is best if you don’t do the same during university. Apportion some part of your time to revise your course on a daily basis. This leaves lesser burden and stress for the “critical time”.

Note Up!

Prepare notes, charts, diagrams and other educational materials that are eye-catching and easy to remember. So even if you can’t remember long drawn texts, you will at least be able to retain key concepts and points of the course.

Planning for Success

Planning is important in every aspect if you are headed for success. In this regard, you need to plan out your study time, the duration, the courses and everything which pertains to it. Your schedule should even include brief breaks to help revitalize your mind in order to boost retention.

Keeping Vitals in Check

If you are looking to improve your brain function, you cannot expect it to happen on an empty stomach. Make sure your vitals are in order. Eat healthy, plenty and on time. Also, be especially careful about your hydration as it is the key for brain activity. Ignoring these vitals will eventually wear you out to an extent that it will begin working against your motives.

Quiz and Study Tests

Quizzes and Study tests can help you brainstorm your learning. Make sure you indulge in these frequently. If you have peers working towards the same objective, you can build study tests for each other. Set the difficulty level at medium so you or your peers do not get disheartened by the results.


The best way to know if you’ve understood a concept is when you are able to explain it to someone with not as much expertise as yourself. Get a sibling, parent or friend to hear you out and if they think you are talking sense, it is most probably because you are absolutely clear on the subject. Cherish the feeling while it lasts.

These are just some of the exam study tips for university students that you can use to build your defense against your course instructor’s onslaught! Every person is unique and will therefore have his or her own study style. If you know which one suits you the best, stick to it. In either case, it isn’t a case of life and death – get through with the spirit that is meant to be! The rest should be fine!

ACT & SAT: What You Need to Know

If you or your high school child plans to attend college, you probably have already heard about the ACT and SAT tests. Post-secondary institutions require prospective students to complete at least one of these exams, and post an acceptable score. You must determine which test to take, and identify the subjects you need to study in preparation for it.


The Scholastic Assessment Test was called the Scholastic Aptitute Test when it was created in 1926. Either way, it has always been known as the SAT. The Educational Testing Service administers the exam, which was developed by a nonprofit organization called the College Board.

The test is designed to measure whether a student has the literacy and writing skills required to be successful in college. Students have 3 hours and 45 minutes to answer the questions. With breaks, the process takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. Students earn a score between 200 and 800 points in critical reading, writing and math. Each subject features 10 sub-categories, with questions ranging from easy to difficult.

The critical-reading section requires students to complete sentences and answer questions about information contained in blocks of text. Skills measured are vocabulary, knowledge of sentence structure, and the ability to comprehend reading passages regarding various subjects.

The math portion of the SAT, also called the “quantitative” or “calculation” section, has three components that take a total of 70 minutes to complete. Most of the questions are in multiple-choice format, with some “grid-in” queries that require students to write answers inside grids on the answer sheet. The subjects covered are numbers, algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and data analysis.

The writing section consists of multiple-choice questions and a short essay. Students identify errors in sentences, and decide the best way to improve sentences and paragraphs. Grammar, word-usage, sentence structure and other skills are measured.

To take the SAT, an online reservation is required at the College Board’s website. Reservations, which must be made three weeks in advance of the test, also are accepted by telephone or mail. The test is administered seven times a year in the United States. There is a fee, though low-income students are granted exemptions. A number of organizations and companies provide books, classes, tutoring and online courses to help students prepare for the SAT.


The American College Testing (ACT) exam has been used since 1959. According to ACT Inc., which administers the test, it measures students’ educational development, as well as their ability to succeed in college English, math, reading and science courses. A score on a scale of 36 points is determined in each category by answers to multiple-choice questions. The test takes 3 hours and 25 minutes to finish.

The English section, which lasts 45 minutes, consists of 75 questions that test a student’s word-usage, punctuation and other literacy skills. The math section features 60 questions that must be answered within an hour. The subjects include algebra, geometry and trigonometry.

The ACT reading test, which must be completed in 35 minutes, covers prose, the humanities, social science and natural science. The science-reasoning section contains 40 questions with a 35-minute deadline. Students read passages regarding scientific principles, then answer questions about them. Concepts include interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem-solving.

An optional writing section is sometimes included in the ACT. Students have 30 minutes to write an essay on a given topic. The results are included in the English-section score.

The composite of the test scores on the various sections is computed on a scale of 36 points. Depending upon the university, a composite score between 17 and 31 is required for admission. The average student receives a score of about 21. The ACT is administered three to six times per year, with states differing in their schedules.

Choosing a Test

In the past, universities on the East and West coasts of the United States tended to require prospective students to take the SAT. In the South and Midwest, the ACT was preferred. Today, most colleges accept both tests. However, it is crucial that students ask the institutions they may wish to attend about their policies.

The ACT and SAT measure slightly different academic skills, with some some variations in subject matter. Students are advised to figure out which exam is best suited to their knowledge and test-taking skills.

In general, the ACT is considered a content-based exam, while the SAT entails more problem-solving and critical thinking. Put another way, the ACT is an achievement test and the SAT is an aptitude test.

The ACT, unlike the SAT, measures science reasoning, trigonometry and grammar. The SAT is more concerned with vocabulary, and is not solely comprised of multiple-choice questions. It also imposes a penalty for wrong answers, which is not the case with the ACT.

Universities consider numerous factors in deciding whether to admit a student. The ACT or SAT score is a major consideration. It is important for a student to determine which test to take, learn about the subjects it covers, and then take the time to study in advance of the exam date. Earning an acceptable score can make the difference between being accepted or denied at a college.

Exams – Overcome Your Horrors

Heading off to college is undoubtedly an exhilarating experience. However, final exams are definitely not! It is common to feel anxious about your exams – after all, we’ve all spent more time hanging out with friends rather than sitting in the library studying! So when exam season looms into view, they are more terrible than they initially looked at the beginning of the term!

Anxiety is the biggest foe of concentration. So when you are feeling all tensed, you are least likely to make positive choices. Examination is not just a test of your knowledge; it is a test of your stress management capabilities as well. Here are a few tips to get you through your examination horrors without losing your nerves.

Prepare Well When You Have the Time

This seems to be the most obvious yet most ignored solution to all exam problems. You need a study plan put in place well before your examinations. This helps you learn your course and practice it bit by bit periodically so you do not need to cram it all in the night before the exam. When you have the time, make the most of it! Leaving it all to the very last moment will have you picking and choosing topics you think will come in the paper – if they do, you are in luck; if not, there’s always next term!

Try to practice as many questions as possible from your course materials and time your answers. This will help you in budgeting your time appropriately during the actual examination session.

Do Not Over-stuff Information before the Exam

Moments before the examination, it is best not to open your study notes. You may realize just then that you probably forgot something and in a frenzy to practice it, you may put your learning in chaos. Prepare well beforehand so you do not need your study notes on the exam day. Also, maintain your composure and do not fall for these nerve traps. It is better not to know a part of a question rather than not knowing all of it!

Sleep Well the Night before Your Exam

This is a common mistake done by most students during examination season. Most students like to stay up late at night learning and revising the course material – even if their brains are sleeping. This is a sure recipe for disaster. If you do not feel fresh during your exam, your concentration and contemplation capabilities tend to get diminished. Get a good night’s sleep before your examination – you need it more than preparation.

The Peace Motto

Feeling afraid? Counter your negative emotions with positive self-talk. You need to push the negative feelings out of yourself in order to have space for the examination. It is not a matter of life or death, and definitely isn’t the end of the world. Your examination paper was not made from alien resources. So be confident you would know how to go about it!

Read Carefully

Skim through the whole examination paper once to get an idea of what all it contains. Apportion your time accordingly so you have some left for a final go-through. Also, make sure you read the questions carefully and understand them in their context. Your examiner will be pleased to see an answer to the question that was asked rather than what you wanted to answer!

Eat and Drink Well

Refresh your energy reserves before heading into the examination hall. Never go in on an empty stomach or your stress and acidity will not allow you to display your true potential. Also, do not try out stimulants just before the exam – energy drinks can make you feel jittery and uncomfortable, making it difficult to concentrate on your work! Be comfortable before and during the examination.

Avoid Announcements

Tempted to announce to the world that you are headed off to the examination hall? Well, nip it in the bud. You do not want to go through anxiety associated with others’ expectations with you on top of the examination fears themselves. There is always time for announcement once you’ve cleared it with flying colors!

Relax! It’s Not the End of the World!

Still feeling too stressed out? Well, just remember; it isn’t the end of the world. And when this isn’t the case, there is nothing to be “so” stressed out about! Just give it your best shot and hope for the best!

6 Way to Prepare for Your Next Exam

Acing (or even just passing!) your exams, requires planning ahead with a clear focus more on the preparation stage than just studying the night before the big day. There are some proven methods used by successful students to ensure that you are well-prepared, focused and can deliver the best of your knowledge without stressing yourself out. The below guide will give you the three most successful exam preparation methods.

1. Use of Flow Charts

If your course consists of subjects heavy in theories and postulates, there is a good chance your memory has failed you on a few occasions – resulting in – exam grades that you would rather not write home about. The best way to overcome this difficulty is to create a pictorial representation of the relationships between concepts, theories, practice. Irrespective of how complicated the course material is and how many theories you covered: a flowchart will always help you understand the genesis and evolution of ideas and concepts. This method is also highly effective when revising history studies with loads of dates and events.

2. Watch Videos and Presentations

You, as a college or university student are likely to be a visual learner. If you have problems with understanding some of the content you need to study, videos will help you a lot, you would be surprised that there are tons of videos and tutorials available on almost every topic under the sun. Thankfully, there are many presentations available on college sites and sites like slideshare.net. You can read PowerPoint presentations available online on the topic, and this will help you better grasp and remember the most important points of every topics.

3. Create a Power Point Presentation for yourself

If you cannot find supporting presentations or videos that help you understand the topic better, you can always create one on your own. It is not hard, and you will certainly not spend more than an hour on developing the summary in Power Point. You would be surprised as to the enormous impact it has on your learning and grades.  Not only will it help you create a quick reference for last minute revision, you will start to understand the topic better during the process of creating the presentation, and you can revisit the content over and over again, so you keep it fresh in your head, without having to read the books from start to finish.

4. Mock Tests / Presentations

You would be surprised to discover the total impact of a number of minor factors that contribute to your grades, these may range for budgeting your time to using a different pen that allows you to write with less effort.

If you know the likely exam format, you should solve of sample test papers or practice your presentation with a room-mate or in front of the mirror. This helps you iron out any minor kinks in your preparation and approach.  It also builds up your confidence, and pre-phrase key words and phrases that you will need to readily express yourself at the critical instant without suffering from information block due to anxiety. Rehearsal should be a key part of your exam preparation, whether it is a a verbal or written test you have to get ready for.

5. Collaborate

If you feel like the subjects, books and ideas to be covered are simply overwhelming, you should not panic. Other people in the same course will certainly feel the same way. Get together with your friends from the class and distribute the topics, subjects and theories that need to be studied for the exam. Assign each member of the study group with the task of creating a presentation, speech or summary of their selected topic, once everybody is done with their material, have a group presentation with each person sharing their summary material, this saves you time since you do not have to dig through all the books and references, and all members can develop a basic knowledge of all the topics, while saving time on your exam preparation.

6. Set Deadlines

Last but not the least – nothing gets done without a deadline so set timelines and deadlines for your preparation.