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.
9 Tips for Taking Exams
Taking exams is much more than what happens on the day. In fact, to do well, you can easily break down taking exams into two main parts. These are:
A. The Preparation
- Passing or failing will depend on whether you took the time to prepare. It is important to revise before your tests. If revision classes are offered, make every attempt to attend. Take practice tests if possible to get a feel for what to do.
- As simple as it sounds, make sure to have pens and pencils with you if you are taking a written test. If you are taking the test online, you may still need a writing implement so that you can jot down your thoughts before typing your answer.
- Get enough rest the night before any test. While some people can function on just a few hours of sleep, most students will be better able to focus after a good night’s sleep. You should aim for between seven and eight hours of sleep on the night before an examination. Sometimes this is not possible, but at least three hours of sleep is necessary.
- Try to get to your exam site before the starting time. Any number of things can happen that can cause a delay.
B. Taking the Exam
On the day of the exam, your level of preparation will make all the difference. This goes without saying, but some good tips for doing your best are:
- Relax. Nervousness can prevent you from thinking clearly. Wear suitable clothing to help make sure you are comfortable.
- Read the instructions carefully. Many students have failed not because they did not know the correct answers, but simply because they did not read and interpret the instructions correctly. Take your time, and re-read the instructions just to be sure you understand what is being asked. Depending on the type of exam, some instructors (or invigilator in some counties) will provide clarification.
- Look at each question before starting. This the best way to determine how much time each question should take. This also helps in identifying the easier questions to start with.
- Determine how much time to spend on each question. This is a good way to ensure that you attempt each question. Without budgeting your time, you can easily run out of time to complete all of the questions. Having a watch with you will help you keep track.
- Make an outline for essays. If you are working on essays, create an outline of what you know about the topic on a blank sheet of paper or in the margins of your working papers. Useful information includes dates, and names of people and places.
- Work on what you know. If you come upon a difficult question, do not think about the parts you cannot remember. Focus on the parts you do know, and sometimes that will be enough to get you through that question.
- If you are stuck on a question, leave it and move on to those that you can answer. If time allows, go back to it after you have completed all the others.
- Try to answer all the questions on your paper unless you will lose marks for incorrect answers.
- Take breaks. Take periodic breaks by closing your eyes and clearing your mind if possible. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious, this can help you to regain focus.
Finally, proofread your work before handing it in if time allows. At this time, do not change the answers unless you are sure that the original answer is incorrect.
After the exam, do not stress over how well you did. The exam is over and you cannot change your scores at this point in time. Becoming good at taking exams is a habit you develop over time. Find what works for you to ensure your success.
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.
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.