CSA Exec Column: First-year Exam Myths

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Written by Nathan Lachowsky

‘Tis the season of stress and worry… or influenza… or exams…. Take your pick!

Needless to say, if you are reading this you might have been looking for some great inspiration or insight. Or, perhaps you were just looking for the next coolest way to procrastinate after Facebook - by the way, “Unfriend” was the Oxford Dictionary word of the year!

This article is all about those two crazy weeks that come once a semester endearingly known as the “Exam Period”. My hope is to bust some myths and provide you with facts about your rights and responsibilities as a student – and to provide some resources for managing yourself and your studying over these next few weeks!

Myth #1 – You cannot have three exams within 24 hours. FALSE! There are absolutely no regulations stating any restrictions on the number of exams that a student can have within any given time period. Your schedule is your schedule and you’ve got to make a study plan around that.

Myth #2 – It’s okay to miss an exam, just talk to your professor. FALSE! The final exams in courses are a responsibility beyond your professor. If you miss an exam, or have a problem, contact your Program Counsellor. You can find a list of your academic advisors by searching Undergraduate Academic Information Centre from the homepage.

Myth #3 – Exams are just like those in high school – don’t sweat it. FALSE! Everyone comes from different schools and backgrounds, so it’s impossible to say that exams here will be easier or harder. Universities exams last two hours and can expect you to remember and integrate materials from the whole semester. It’s always better to be over prepared!

Here are some helpful “Exam Preparation” hints provided by the Learning Commons:

  • Study in a quiet, comfortable (but not too comfortable!) location
  • Be organized. Make a study schedule by breaking down what you have to do.
  • Study in small chunks of time (two-hour blocks then a 15 minute break)
  • Keep a normal schedule: eat right, get enough sleep, and take time to exercise and relax.
  • Gather information about the test from the professor and teaching assistant (e.g. Will the test be: multiple choice, short answer, or essay? How many questions will be on the test? What material will be covered?)
  • Anticipate exam questions. Make up sample questions and answer them.
  • During the test, read the instructions and questions carefully. Budget your time. Organize your answer. Make up an outline for essay questions if possible.
  • Relax. Be aware of tension build-up. Don't forget to breathe!

Check-out “Learning Services” online or in the Library for one-on-one consultations and workshops in preparation for exam season!

Remember that this is your first year – everything is a learning experience. If an exam goes poorly, reflect upon it and talk to your professor. You have the rest of your time here to do better! Do your best and you will be done before you know it!

Nathan Lachowsky is Academic Commissioner for the Central Student Association.

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