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Student Resource Center workshops help WSU Vancouver students prepare for finals

Finals are just around the corner, and WSU Vancouver students are feeling the pressure to pass their classes with flying colors. WSU Vancouver Student Resource Center Academic Coordinator Bill Stahley has several suggestions to help students improve their own tried-and-true exam preparation techniques.

Stahley teaches effective study and testing habits at the regularly scheduled SRC workshop, Maximize Test Performance.

“How well you prepare shapes how well you do on an exam,” Stahley said.

Stahley stressed basics, such as getting enough sleep, having a proper diet and exercising regularly. Students who neglect healthy eating, sleeping and exercise cannot study as effectively and may do worse on tests, Stahley said.

The following are Stahley’s best study tips to help with memory retention:

  1. Study the harder parts first and get them out of the way.
  2. Study in small chunks over a longer period of time instead of one long and exhausting session.
  3. Return to the material within twenty-four hours after the first exposure and then come back to it within the same week.

Stahley said that learning takes place during class, study sessions and while reading. For best results, students should attend all scheduled classes and maintain focus on the material presented. Stahley recommends taking notes, circling unfamiliar words, highlighting key facts and using the margins of books to record questions for later analysis. This will keep information as fresh as possible. Over-learning is not a bad thing.

According to an article in “Cognitive Science” by American psychiatrist and classroom management theorist, William Glasser, the way people learn and how much they retain is based on their senses. Most people retain:

  • 10% of what they read
  • 20% of what they hear
  • 30% of what they see
  • 50% of what they see and hear
  • 70% of what they discuss with others
  • 80% of what they experience personally
  • 95% of what they teach someone else.

Regular review and practice sessions using flash cards, reading notes aloud, discussing with others, and creating chapter summaries and review sheets are all recommended study tools. When it comes to testing, Stahley proposed additional methods and tips.

  • One interesting idea for improved test taking is what Stahley called the “data dump.” Students using the “data dump” technique will write down important key facts, theories or formulas the minute the test begins. By relocating this information from their brains to a piece of paper or directly onto the test, data dumpers free up short term memory and make room for more information.
  • Staley recommends students start with the parts of the test they know well. Answer the easy questions first to help build momentum and confidence.
  • Stahley discussed the widespread advice to “check your work.” Staley said it is not essential to go back and change your answers — it is best not to second-guess yourself on answers you already have answered. Instead, it is more important to re-read questions to make sure you answered them properly and to make sure you did not miss any questions.
  • In his final study tip, Stahley recommended campus resources. He suggested students make use of professors’ office hours and the tutoring, writing and quantitative skills centers. Students who struggle with test anxiety may want to consider making a visit to the counseling center located within the Student Resource Center.
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