Get back on track during Reading Week!

The most successful university students plan their time and prioritize their tasks effectively. Reading Week is a great opportunity to get back on track, push forward, and get ready to finish the semester strong. This worksheet is designed to assist you. If you need more help, check out the SASS site, learning and writing advice appointment booking, and SASS’s calendar of drop-in workshops.


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Reading During Reading Week?

By: Alana Kearney, 3rd Year Concurrent Education, English student 

It seems that the first week back after reading week is full of students saying, “I should have done way more work than I did,” and “I didn’t open a book the whole week!” With reading week coming up, it is important to plan realistic goals for the week so that you can say, “I accomplished everything I wanted to over the break.” Trying to accomplish too much over the break means you won’t have a break at all, but not touching any school work could make the next 6 weeks more difficult. Here are some tips for finding your perfect balance! The Make the Most of Reading Week: Scheduling Drop-In on February 14th is a great place to go to if you are interested in planning for reading week. (


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How Simple Breathing Can Stomp your Test Anxiety

By Cole A Harrison-Priddle, 3rd year English/Art History/Voice student

 Exams and in-class tests are not only evaluations of your knowledge and ability to apply it. They’re also performances: the class is your stage, your pens and pencils are your props, the time limit is your show length, and the examiner is your audience. Unlike actors performing a rehearsed play, students like you must determine the best answers to the show as you are performing it. Considering how rampant stage fright is even amongst veteran performers for rehearsed plays, it is understandable that you might feel test anxiety when approaching or performing an exam. Luckily, you and everyone else has a latent tool – one in constant use but likely not yet harnessed, one that is foundational yet able to make or break actors, singers and musicians alike, and one without which you cannot live – your breath.



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University has taught me to… Get comfortable being uncomfortable

By Sam Taylor, 4th-year Concurrent Education, English major student

Now is the time to try something unordinary!

I am currently in my fourth year of my undergrad here at Queen’s. I think one of the most important pieces of advice that I learned throughout my undergraduate experience is to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” I actually just heard this saying recently at the Queen’s Conference on Education that I attended my first weekend back from Christmas break. It occurred to me that this saying holds true for a lot of occurrences over my past four years: I just never had a way of categorizing them. Here is how Queen’s has taught me to “get comfortable being uncomfortable” and made me a more open-minded and well-rounded learner because of it.


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Editing So That It Makes Sense: Breaking Down Your Thesis Like 1,2,3…

By Lily Zhu, 3rd year Concurrent Education, English and French Student


When editing a paper, one of the first things to look at is the thesis statement—for good reason. The thesis statement is the most important component of your essay. It is the MAIN IDEA, which means that everything you argue in your essay should relate back to your thesis.


It’s pretty common for a paper to have a strong, argumentative, well-written thesis, but then end up going in a different direction. While you might want to return to that original statement, it’s important to remember that you can adjust your thesis just as much as the rest of your essay. So after exploring your topic in writing your first draft, there’s a way to make sure that your thesis is “up-to-date” before working on your final draft.


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A Harry Potter themed-study guide to make your learning magical

By Zier Zhou, 2nd year Life Sciences student


It’s been more than 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but the series still remains as relevant to our lives as ever. Perhaps your invitation letter from Hogwarts never came into existence, but there is certainly no harm in adding a creative twist to your study session by setting an enchanting atmosphere. Furthermore, discover what each of the four Houses have to say about learning, and unlock your greatest potential.


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Happy New Year from Learning Strategies! Are you ready?

By Chelsea Hall, 2nd-year Life Sciences student

The start of the new year marks the beginning of the winter term: you will have a new schedule, face different challenges, experience more possibilities open to you and so much more. Although new year resolutions are often hard to keep, you can learn good habits anytime.  There is no better time to do so than now!



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A Big Decision: Changing My Academic Plan

By Becky Bando, 3rd-year Concurrent Education, English student

Imagine you’ve changed half of your courses six weeks into the year. But these weren’t just any random courses; these were courses required for your new major. And this change wasn’t just a small shift in your major, like moving from Chemistry to Biology; it was a drastic change, like moving from Math to English. This means weeks of work to catch up on as well as learning a whole new set of skills connected to your major. Not to mention, entering new classes not knowing anyone. What if you change your mind and regret your new major?





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Get your groove back: Tips for a smooth return to schoolwork after a break

By Caleigh Treissman, 3rd-year Psychology major

After the break, getting back into the rhythm of school can sometimes be difficult: the return of responsibility and stress, saying goodbye to family and friends from home. The important thing to remember is that YOU CAN GET BACK INTO THE GROOVE!

We recognize that motivation may be low to start, so here are a few handy tips to get you started!

  • Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that it may take you a while to get back into the school work groove! Don’t get down on yourself, take breaks and do what you can!
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t plan to do all those readings that you’re dreading all at once! Break them up into manageable chunks!
  • Prioritize in order to stay on top of your work! What is each assignment worth? How long will it take you to complete? Ask yourself these questions and do the most important work first!
  • Reward yourself when you are able to accomplish tasks that seemed daunting at first!
  • Believe in yourself above all else! Put motivational quotations and reminders of your long-term goals around your room to remind yourself why you are here.

Make sure to use your term and weekly schedules in order to keep track of assignments and exams!

It may take some time to really feel back in the groove of school again, but Learning Strategies and the Peer Learning Assistants are here for you if you need some extra support!



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Can my personality determine where I should study?

By Orly Lipsitz, 3rd-year psychology student


A big part of exam season is the environment you choose to study in. You might be wondering how some of your friends have no problem studying all day in CoGro, or you might be asking yourself how some other friends do all their studying in silent cubicles in Stauffer, Douglas or Bracken. Did you know that one aspect of your personality type—introversion vs extroversion–likely plays a role in determining the best study environment for you?

Are you introverted?

Do you like your time alone? Prefer to listen to music on your own rather than going out? Research has shown that there is a difference in performance for introverts vs. extroverts depending on their study environment (Green, McCown and Broyles, 1985). Performance of introverts on complex cognitive tasks (e.g. writing an essay, analyzing an article, solving a math problem) is negatively affected by distractors such as music and background noise. Introverts do worse when there is background noise than when there is silence. What does this mean? If you think of yourself as introverted, your best bet at studying would probably be studying without music in a quiet environment (Dobbs, Furnha and McClelland, 2010). You might also find that you get more easily distracted by small amounts of noise, like the two people sitting across from you talking in the library, whereas your extroverted friends might not even look up when someone drops a huge textbook on the ground. This has actually been confirmed by research—it takes much louder noise for an extrovert to get distracted from their material than for an introvert to get distracted. Introverts show greater sensitivity to lower intensity noise than extroverts (Green, McCown and Broyles, 1985).

So what places on campus would be good for introverts to study?

  • Stauffer
  • Douglas
  • Bracken
  • Biosci 2nd floor
  • Kingston public libraries
  • Empty classrooms
  • Home

If you are extroverted, this is the section for you! Some studies have shown that extroverts respond to tasks with greater accuracy when in an environment with higher noise intensity (Green et al., 1985). However, other studies have shown that both introverts and extroverts perform better in quieter environments (Furnham, Gunter and Peterson, 1994).

Where should you study if you want a noisier environment?

  • CoGro
  • Cafés around Kingston
  • The Tea Room
  • The ARC
  • Botterell Hall Market Café

However, most people can’t be boxed into a specific category of introvert versus extrovert. Where you choose to study might also depend on the mood you are in or what work you need to get done. For some tasks, you might prefer silent work areas. For others, you might prefer a little bit of background noise and stimulation.

Some places to go to that are somewhere in the middle include:

  • JDUC
  • BioSci atrium
  • Mac-Corry cafeteria (depending on time of day–it is louder during lunchtime)
  • Residence common rooms
  • Tables outside of Stauffer
  • 3rd floor ARC (above CoGro)
  • New medical building

Don’t forget, what works for others might not work for you. Try out different study areas and different methods of studying—such as studying with music and studying without (although if you use music, it is best to listen to classical music or music you are unfamiliar with so that you do not get distracted by the lyrics). At SASS, we recommend that students spend approximately 25% of their study time reviewing with a group. There are lots of places on campus to work as a group, including many of the areas listed above. Additionally, you can book study rooms in advance in the various Queen’s libraries. Many faculties also offer study rooms specifically for students in their faculty as well.

If you need more help finding the right way to study for you, drop by SASS (Stauffer Room 143)!


Green, R. G., McCown, E. J., & Broyles, J. W. (1985) Effects of noise on sensitivity of introverts and extraverts to signals in a vigilance task. Personality and Individual Differences, 6(2), 237-241.

Furnham, A., Gunter, B., and Peterson, E. (1994). Television distraction and the performance on introverts and extroverts. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8(7), 705-711.

Dobbs, S., Furnham, A., and McClelland, A. (2010). The effect of background music and noise on the cognitive test performance of introverts and extraverts. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25(2), 307-313.

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