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Conversation starters: Have you touched base with faculty about grades and where you stand at this point?

October 29, 2018

According to History Department Assistant Professor Dr. Claire Wolnisty, students most typically ask about where they stand in the class or about the class final in person after class or through email. Very rarely do students come to office hours, which Dr. Wolnisty believes is actually the best way to talk about how students are doing in the class.

“Students usually ask, ‘How can I get an A in this class?’ While a fair question, it’s also not always the best question to ask as different students learn in different ways and they have to earn that A, rather than get that A. This might seem like small semantics, but I think the verb is important here” (Wolnisty).


General Tips to help prepare for finals:

  • Find out if the final is cumulative or just over the second half of the semester.  Obviously, some classes like languages will always be cumulative but this consideration will help put you in the right headspace in terms of how many “big picture” connections you should be making between course material week to week.


  • Spread out your studying.  You are going to have a bunch of finals all together!  You don’t want to cram everything together and start writing about photosynthesis on your history test.  My class, for example and as you know, covers all of the possible essay topics that could be on the test ahead of time.  Stay on top of them week to week. That daily/weekly work towards your final will pay off when the final comes around. Dr. Wolnisty suggests breaking down studying for each class into 3 main phases:
  • Writing: As you may know, writing out your notes, as opposed to typing them or nothing at all, has been proven to improve memorization (Meuller, Oppenheimer). To write your notes on index cards may be one of the most efficient study tips, as you memorize the material as you write it on the cards, as well as going through the cards to study and test yourself. If you are a visual learner, which is most common, then colored note cards/pens/markers/pencils/crayons are your best friends.
  • Speaking: After you have written out your answers, say your answers out loud without looking at your written response. If you decide to use index cards, place the ones you get correct in one pile and the ones you did not get right in a separate pile. Practice the ones in the incorrect pile until all of the cards make it to the “right” pile.
  • Testing: Aside from testing yourself with index cards, you can create your own practice test to look like your teachers’ real tests (however they format theirs). Try to recreate the testing environment as best you can, and make sure to time yourself. That way when you walk into class on test day, you know you have done the test before!
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