Tag Archives: finals

Preserving the Earth, Preserving your Grades

Are you getting ready for the end of the semester? Start thinking of when you should be studying, what resources you need, and how to finish your semester strong with everything from the beginning of your semester to now!

Plants grow from seedlings when nourished consistently over time. Your brain retains information better if you provide it a steady flow of information throughout the course of the semester rather than trying to cram everything into it in one week. Slow and steady always wins the race. The path to success is one of consistent attention and time commitment. It is not achieved in a week or overnight. This is the take home message for approaching finals or the next school year. The best way to prepare yourself for exams and for life is to start early and water your brain with the knowledge needed to succeed!

Tired of spending money on ink, paper, and printing fees for printing articles assigned for your class? How about toting around three notebooks so you can hectically take notes for each class, only to find them illegible when you look back to review them? It’s time to #recycle that paper and start using your resources! If your professors allow it, take notes on your computer or tablet during class.  You can compile your notes by subject, topic and/or day (side note, if you bring your computer to class, TURN OFF THE INTERNET-it helps with the internet browsing temptation).  Sign up for Evernote, where you can take notes and share them with others in order to make quick, easy, effective study groups. Finally, download your textbooks and articles onto your computer or tablet. Look into software that is compatible with your device so you can make notes on specific readings and save them to your computer. At the end of the day, you’ll have your notes and readings all in the same place.  With that said, don’t forget to back everything up! Whether you use an external hard drive, the “cloud”, or any other device, make sure you have things saved in multiple places.  Not only will you feel more organized, but you’ll save your back the trouble of carrying all your materials around campus.

With the excitement of finishing classes, it’s easy to be tempted to throw all your notes in the trash. However, take a moment to think about what might be useful for you in the future before throwing any notes away. If you are planning on going to graduate school, some of your undergraduate notes may be useful to save as a reference. If you are taking a course relevant to your future career, those notes also may be worth holding on to. You never know when you are going to need this information again! Another important reason to recycle your notes is because you can reuse them again to study! Save your notes for all your classes during the semester as they will come in handy when studying for finals and cumulative tests. At the end of the semester, go through all your notes and decide what is worth keeping and what you can afford to get rid of. You worked hard all semester to take good notes, don’t forget to reuse and #recycle them!

The end of the semester is right around the corner and this is the time to sharpen up any habits you may have lost. Look over your notes, develop new habits, and start studying now!

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What Not to Do: Finals Edition

351_how_to_flashLet us tell you a story—OK, a couple stories. Three Towson students are going to tell their tales of woe and misery of finals past. The stories and students are real, although names may have been changed to protect the innocent (or under-prepared). Take fair warning: some of these stories may be scarily close to personal experiences you may or may not share. Maybe wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket before you proceed. Make sure all the lights are on in your dorm. Now listen to these tales of horror, but don’t say we didn’t—

Finals week is one of the busiest times of the year for college students. Between studying for exams, completing final projects, preparing for presentations, and of the year celebrations with friends, it can be hard to manage it all. As a senior in college, I struggled to divide my time between studying for finals and hanging out with my friends. I was so close to graduating, but I wasn’t done just yet; I needed to pass my finals first! Unfortunately, I gave in to the distractions and spent more time with my friends during finals week than I did actually studying for my finals. As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly prepared for my exams and didn’t do as well as I had hoped. Don’t make the same mistake as you prepare for finals week! Prioritize your time, make a schedule, and study hard for those finals. Then, reward yourself when you’re all done!

It’s that time of the semester we’ve all be dreading. Finals. And if you’re anything like me, the only thing getting you through is knowing that in 6 weeks, I’ll be binge watching Orange is the New Black on a steady diet of Watermelon, 117703606-temper-tantrumHot Dogs, and Rita’s Italian Ice. But until then, I have papers to write, tests to take, and presentations to create. And again, if you’re anything like me, it’s the paper writing that makes you to want to throw a tantrum like a three-year-old in Target who just got denied a Hulk action figure and a Snickers in the same visit. Here’s the thing, the tantrum doesn’t really get you anywhere. I’ve tried it. And all it left me with was a confused roommate and an empty box of tissues. And a paper to write. So here are a couple suggestions I have as alternatives to the tantrum.

When I sit down to write a paper, I write. I write anything that comes into my head. Full sentences, incomplete thoughts, bullet points, maybe some foul language. I just write. No structure. Just my thoughts. Then I save it, close my computer, leave it, and come back to it the next day. Yes, the “Gustavson Method” requires you to leave yourself a couples days to write a paper, so for those of you who wait until the last minute, don’t.

When it’s time to come back to the paper, I like to print out a copy and write all over it. I make those thoughts into full sentences. Move the bullet points somewhere they fit better. Take out the foul language. I run through my paper one time, fix it up, and put it away again. I do this again about one or two more times, and then I have it. I have my award winning paper.

The reason I do my papers this way is not because I like to savor the experience in bits and pieces over the course of a week. I do it this way because it is impossible to write a perfect essay on your first try. And if it’s not going to be perfect on the first try, spread it out. Take it your time with it. I’m willing to bet you’ll have some great thoughts to add between your drafts.

This is the time of year where the weather starts to get nicer, but with tfinalshat comes the most dreaded time of year, finals. Final exam time used to be an extremely stressful part of the semester for me. I would spend hours upon hours with my face glued to my text and notebooks during this time of year. No matter how much time I spend studying I always found myself second guessing my answers, especially on multiple choice tests. I would finish my test in a reasonable amount of time and then go back and check my answers to make sure I didn’t make any careless mistakes. It was during this double check that I found myself constantly second guessing and changing my answers for no good reason other than nerves. I usually found that the original answer was right a majority of the time, so I adopted a new method of answer changing. I now only change my answers if I find an error in my original selection. If I couldn’t find an error I would leave it alone. After I adopted this method I started seeing my test scores go up! The morale of the story is don’t second guess your gut unless you have found a mistake.

Please use the experiences of the students that shared their stories to learn from their mistakes so that you don’t have to make those same mistakes yourself. Don’t let yourself get distracted during your finals preparation to make sure you can perform your best. Find a paper writing method that doesn’t leave you throwing tantrums like a small child. Lastly, don’t second guess yourself when test day finally comes. You can and will get through these finals!

successful-man-jumping

Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist & Graduate Student, MBA

Kristy Gustavson
Graduate Assistant & Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology Major

Allison Hutchison
Learning Specialist & Graduate Student, MFA

Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistant & Graduate Student, Speech and Language Pathology Major

Fa la la la la Finals Frenzy

Twas the night before finals and all through the dorms, all the students were studying, worried about how they’d perform….The holidays can be a great source of joy and excitement, but they can also be a time of high stress. In college, there is still the usual merriment of gift giving and other traditions, with added pressures of doing well on finals and moving out of the dorms. With effective time management skills, you can navigate the 12 days of finals successfully and still be wearing a festive grin come December 17th!

exam-stress

There are many different sources of stress this time of year from finals to moving out, everyone is extremely busy. The biggest source of stress right now is probably getting ready for one of the most important exams in all of your classes: your final. Preparing for your finals can be very stressful whether this is your first time taking college finals or even it is your last semester of school. Another source of stress this time of year is preparing to head home for the holidays. If you live in a dorm, you have to pack up your clothes and head home until January and this can be stressful whether you’re going across the country or just around the beltway. Effective ways to combat both of these stressors is to utilize time management techniques and to reward yourself for achieving your goals.

Time Management

Final exams are right around the corner. Learning how to manage your time will help you succeed when preparing for your exams. To help you along your way, here’s a quick list of hits for staying on track as you start your studying.

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it. It’s hard to plan every minute of your day around final exams. Do your best to create a realistic schedule and try to stick to it.
  2. Think about the courses you are taking. Some courses are more difficult, and therefore you may need to study longer for these courses, while others you don’t need to spend as much time on them studying for your exam.
  3. Set deadlines. When you set deadlines for yourself, it will keep you on track for long-term goals. If your final paper isn’t due for two weeks, start doing a little bit of research each day, and set a date to start writing.
  4. It’s okay to say no. When studying for final exams, it is okay to tell your friends you cannot hang out with them.

Holiday Rewards

Looking for a way to unwind after all the stress of finals, moving, and out-of-town relatives? Make sure to reward yourself after accomplishing specific goals you set for yourself. For instance, after finishing your studying for finals, you may want to go out to catch an early dinner with friends before settling in for a short winter’s nap; remember, you’re going to need a good night’s sleep before each exam! Well-rested students whose stomachs aren’t growling tend to perform better on tests and exams. Here are a couple ideas for holiday rewards near Towson and the Baltimore area:

  1. Ice Rink at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor: For $9, you can skate away in McKeldin Plaza, even on holidays! After your nose turns frosty, you can use your ice skating wristband for discounts at nearby restaurants and businesses.
  2. $1 Entertainment: This coming weekend, December 6 and 7, you can enter the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, Top of the World (the World Trade Center), and The Christmas Village. Even if you stay for 30 minutes or so before returning to studying, $1 is well worth it!
  3. Federal Hill Moonlight Madness: On Friday, December 12, shops and galleries will stay open until midnight. Enjoy free gift wrapping, caroling, and light refreshments.
  4. The Walters Museum: This free museum—yes, that’s right, FREE—has an awesome permanent collection and is offering The Christmas Story in Art Walk-In Tour this Sunday from 1-2 PM. Take advantage of the free Collegetown Shuttle to get into town; it runs until midnight on Fridays.
  5. Miracle on 34th Street: Drive through hip Hampden and catch the lights on 34th street! For the past 67 years, neighbors on this street decorate their houses and generously encourage visitors to drive by and admire the twinkling lights, hon. Stop by Holy Frijoles, Golden West, or Frazier’s for a bite to eat afterward.

Finals Activities Offered by the AAC:

  1. Last-Minute Q&A Sessions

Worried about your final exams? Come by the Academic Achievement Center in Cook Library anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 PM on Monday, December 8 or Tuesday, December 9. We’ll have tutors on hand for subjects including FIN 331, ACCT 201 and 202, BIOL 190, MATH 111, and more. Snacks and beverages will be on hand to keep you going! Look for more information in T3 soon.

  1. Finals Workshops

Get ready-to-use tools and strategies for studying and planning for finals. Three workshop times are available for your convenience:

  • Monday, December 1 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM in CK 513
  • Wednesday, December 3 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM in CK 513
  • Thursday, December 4 from 6:00 to 7:00 PM ONLINE

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Gina Sabo & Monica Padgett
Graduate Students

Allison Hutchison & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist

Finals FAQ’s …..Answered!

kcFinals time has finally arrived! You may find yourself asking a lot of questions about how you should prepare for your finals. We have the answers to some of the most common questions!

I have so many exams to study for; how can I maximize my time when studying?

Consider your preferred learning style. When studying, do you learn best by: using images and diagrams? Repeating aloud the material and talking about it with others? Working with models and being physically engaged with the content? Reading and writing….and then, rereading and rewriting? These characteristics describe four different learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read/write.   Draw on study strategies that match your preferred way to learn in order to maximize your study time.   Find specific study strategies for each learning style by viewing the Targeting your Learning Style for Success presentation in the Academic Success & Study Strategies section on our resource page.

Where do I get the help I need?First, consider what kind of help it is that you need. Are you struggling with course content? Need help making a study plan? Stressed out? Once you determine what kind of help you need you can pinpoint the appropriate campus resource(s):

o   Professors – Don’t forget that your teacher is the one who writes the exam! Take advantage of office hours and get the information you need.

o   Academic Achievement Center– Stop by the AAC for tutoring: “Last Minute Finals Q&A Sessions” run by AAC tutors.

o   Library Resources – The library offers extended hours during finals to accommodate busy schedules. Also, check out the schedule for the “Relax your Brain” tables.

o   Writing Center – Don’t delay getting assistance with your papers. Visit the writing center to make an appointment or call 410-704-3426.

o   Counseling Center – Call or visit the counseling center to learn about programs and workshops that can help to reduce stress and anxiety during this busy time of year.

What if my “final” is a paper?

Start drafting your paper as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to revise your paper a few times before turning it in.   Wayne Robertson, Director of TU’s Writing Center suggests these tips for revising your paper:

o   Read aloud to catch errors and sentences that sound awkward. In any given day, you listen to a lot more language than you read. The result is that your ear is usually a much better editor than your eyes. Find yourself a quiet room and just read the entire paper aloud. Any time you stumble, rework that sentence to make it sound smoother.

o   Use an outline…after you have a draft.   Try this: After you’ve written your paper, look at each paragraph individually. What is the purpose of that paragraph? Is it to introduce a new point? Is it to provide another piece of evidence to support a prior point? Is it to examine a counter-argument? Organization is best addressed on the paragraph level. Once you understand the purpose of each paragraph, you can see the overall movement of your argument, which will help you reorganize. After making any larger organizational changes, now go through and rewrite the first sentence of each paragraph based on its purpose. If the paragraph is introducing an alternate perspective, you might start the paragraph by writing, “Of course, some may argue…” If the paragraph is adding the consequences of an idea, you might write “The consequences of changing this policy….” If organization is something you usually have trouble with, this simple exercise can really help. faq

o   Get feedback from other readers. Students often assume good writers work effortlessly. They don’t. Writing is difficult for everyone, and almost everything that‘s published has been looked at by multiple people. Ask other people to give you feedback on where they get confused, about where they might not be convinced of your argument, and on how focused the ideas seem to be. Ask friends, family and faculty for input, and of course, use the writing center

I am stressed about my finals, what do I do?Exam stress can be reduced if the right strategies are put into action. Study early and often to avoid the additional stress that last minute cramming causes. Create a balanced schedule during exams that integrates focused studying, breaks and rewards. Practice regular deep breathing and remember to get lots of sleep. Use your bed only for sleeping. If you find you are restless and cannot get your finals out of your mind – get up, leave your bedroom and create a worry list that you will tackle the next day (Sharer, N., Towson University Counseling Center). Listen to relaxing music before bed and silence your cell phone. A little bit of nervousness during exams is normal – take a deep breath and put your hard work into action.

Should I cram or should I sleep? It can be tempting to wait to the last minute and try to stay up really late or not even go to bed at all when trying to study for finals. However, getting a good night’s rest is just as important as studying all of the information that you need to cover. There have been countless studies conducted to support this and they have shown that 8-9 hours of sleep the night before an exam improves the ability to recall information studied. They have also shown that too little sleep is harmful for your recollection on exam day. This isn’t your pass to not study for your test; your studying needs to be done in a way that allows you to get the amount of sleep that you need to perform to the best of your ability on exam day.

Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

Jennifer Wendt
Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

Brittany Bell
Graduate Assistant
Academic Achievement center

Attack Finals Like a Towson Tiger

123Create a plan for finals and attack it like a Towson tiger!  Take the advice of Dr. Chandler and prepare early!  We put together 5 best tips for finals planning, studying, and preparation.   Stay focused by using these tips to get ready for exams.

1.  Know the dates, times, & locations of your finals Check with your professor or review Towson’s exam schedule to make sure you know exactly when, where, and what time each final will take place.  Write it down on your planner or type it into your phone calendar.  Keep this information on you at all times!

2. Planning out your timeNow that you know when and where your finals are, it’s time to starting planning out how you will use your time.  Here is a useful guide to mapping out when your free time is.  Start by writing when you have class and work, then fill in other obligations that you may have.  After you fill out those times you will see the free time that you actually have and can plan your study time accordingly.

 3. Where to begin studyingPrioritize your studying using the 3 Ds: deadlines, difficulty, and depth.  Use your exam schedule to determine which deadline is approaching and tackle that subject first.  Start studying difficult content sooner rather than later.  Finally, consider the amount of content that needs to be learned and the weighting of each final exam or assignment to determine the depth.

 4. Break-up your study time – Remember not to spend hours upon hours studying the same subject area. Take short but frequent breaks and rotate areas (by priority!) to keep your mind focused and refreshed. Divide your time among subjects so you’re not left cramming the night before your final!

5. Use these Study Methods: Strategize how you study based on the types of questions that will be on your finals.   Common question types include short-answer, multiple choice, true/false, and matching.  Get tips on how to prepare for different types of exam questions here! 1234

So you now have a general game plan for finals, but don’t forget about resources around campus for finals.  The Academic Achievement Center has Late Night Q&A Sessions for various subjects on December 9th and 10th; Cook Library has extended hours for students who need to do research or a place to study; and the Counseling Center has an event about coping with finals stress.  Good luck on your finals!

Brittany Bell – Graduate Assistant
Jennifer Wendt and Jeremy Boettinger – Learning Specialists
Academic Achievement Center

Types of Students during Finals Week

Doesn’t it seem like every semester finals come around faster than you thought they would?  Now you find yourself stressing about studying enough for each class and trying to figure out what grade you can possibly get in each class.  Everyone hunkers down in their favorite study spots whether it is in Cook Library, Liberal Arts, or your dorm.  Everyone seems to be so busy!  procrastinationHere is a fun list of students that you will probably run into in your favorite study spot.

Crammer
Crammers use the remaining balance on their student account to buy Red Bull and coffee.  During finals week, you scope out areas, restaurants, and coffee shops open 24-hours. The night before a final, you glue yourself to your notes, dust off your textbook and start reading.  Your table at the library has a pile of old food containers, empty Starbucks cups, and papers everywhere.  Your eyes are bloodshot but determined.  Wondering why all the weird looks from students passing you by in the library? They see your sleeping bag and pillow and the I’ve-been-cramming-for-3-days-straight look on your face.

Cheerleader
Your motto at finals time is “you can do it!” Your idea of preparing for finals is to bake cookies for people studying, write “good luck” notes on your roommate’s door, and stand outside lecture halls with big YOU CAN DO IT signs. What’s in your calendar?  The dates/times of Dan’s, Carrie’s, Beth’s, Tim’s, and Emma’s exams, of course.  Someone has to pump them up and that someone is you!

Social Media Addict
Social media addicts FREAK OUT during finals because they don’t know if they will make it through the 1-hour, no-cell-phone final.  You secretly wish you could tweet your answers to your professors and then do a quick search in the app store for “complete finals app” and no luck.  Your idea of preparing for finals is to schedule posts in advance on Facebook, warn your Twitter followers months in advance that @socialmediaaddict will be MIA be6tween 10:00am-11:00am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and ask a friend to repin new Pinterest pins while you are taking your exams.  During each exam, you go through an entire pack of gum and tap your thumb to minimize your withdrawal symptoms. You hope that maybe pretending to post your next Instragram photo will help you focus more on the final and less on what’s happening on Instagram.

All-Star
All-stars make up a famous group of talented, well-prepared, and high-performing students.  The all-star student starts preparin8g for finals the first day of class. Right from the start, your dorm or house is filled with stacks of flashcards, highlighted notes, and marked textbook pages.  You can recite the date and exact time of each final and likely have your pencil sharpened and set aside for these special days.  In class, you’re the first one to raise your hand and ask, “Will this be on the final?” Even though the professor says no, you star it anyway “just in case”.  You want to be prepared, right?

Preparing for Finals Tips

  • Use the AAC’s tutoring services & Professors’ office hours
  • Create a Study Schedule
  • Use your course syllabus or study guide to focus on the material you need to know
  • Take breaks while studying; we recommend taking a 3-5 minute break every 30-45 minutes
  • Sleep! At least the recommend amount
  • Find a distraction-free study area
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to study; start now!
  • Study the material using a variety of methods (i.e., flashcards, completing practice problems, and reciting aloud the content)
  • Form a study group
  • Create a practice test

Jennifer Wendt & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialists
Academic Achievement Center

Managing End-of-Semester Stress with Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help manage our reaction to stress. Stress is unavoidable in our lives, and mindfulness includes one set of tools that can help us cope with stress. When we feel stress, our bodies and minds respond in a way that prepares us for fight or flight. Often, this may translate into physical or emotional constriction, narrow focus, worry and fear about the future, or activities like procrastination or distraction (e.g., through drinking, TV, internet/Facebook, emotional eating, etc.). We learn that the only way to deal with our stress is to avoid it or try to make it go away. But just like that annoying song that you can’t get out of your mind by trying not to think about it, attempting to ignore the stress in our lives does not make it go away.

Mindfulness is about an alternative way to relate to feelings of stress other than fight or flight mode. The essence of mindfulness is learning to bring our attention to the present moment in an open, nonjudgmental way. By doing so, it is possible to learn that uncomfortable feelings of stress do not need to be avoided or pushed away, and instbe-present1-300x181ead it is possible to welcome those feelings without our typical resistance to them. As a result, if we are not spending our energy trying to avoid or mitigate stress, we have much more freedom to do the things in life that are important to us. Research has linked mindfulness to other benefits including more compassion in relationships, less avoidance of thoughts or activities, better physical health, better immune system function, less worrying about the past or future, better sleep, and a better ability to cope with a variety of everyday stressors.

I think a lot of people have the idea that meditation means sitting cross-legged on a cushion chanting “OM.” While that may be helpful for some people, mindfulness can take a variety of forms, and people can incorporate it into many aspects of their daily lives. While some people may benefit from having a more formal, dedicated time and place to meditate, others experience benefits from doing some mindful breathing or relaxation right before class or an exam; before, during, or after schoolwork or studying; while walking across campus; before or while spending time with other people; while eating a meal; and as they are falling asleep. During mindfulness workshops, staff from the Counseling Center teach short exercises that people can practice throughout their days to help achieve a more relaxed, worry-free, centered, and open state of being. At the same time, mindfulness is not a panacea, so students experiencing more severe stress, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, substance abuse, concerns with body image, or other marked distress, I would recommend that they set up an appointment at the Counseling Center (410-704-2512) to get feedback about the best course of treatment.

Exams can definitely be an added stressor on top of all the other stresses and pressures students already face. As finals are approaching this semester, consider practicing some basic mindfulness, which may even improve test performance. And if it seems like mindfulness is just one extra thing that you should do but don’t have time for, think again. There are even various apps or free downloads that can help you get started.

Jon Gorman
The Counseling Center

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