You customize your coffee — Now customize your goals!

By Kaitlin Pilarski, 2nd year Life Sciences student


Nowadays, everyone seems to make elaborate coffee orders. We stand in line between classes, watch as the barista inputs every detail right down to the caramel drizzle, and spell our name out letter by letter so they CAN’T get our name wrong – but what if we spent as much time caring about our goals as we did our coffee? Would our outlook change? Would the outcome be different? Let’s take a look…


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How to Survive Mid Term Season – Featuring Positive Quotes

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


Mid term season is one of the more stressful times during the semester, which I’m sure you already know. Whether it is to get me through the pressures of mid terms or just to brighten my day, I tend to rely on positive quotes. I use them as my laptop screensaver, my phone background, and have them up on the walls in my bedroom. Reading these motivating words could also be your source of inspiration this mid term season!

Rohn, Jim. “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Quote Fancy, 2017.

  1. Build a weekly study schedule
    • This way, you can do your best to complete all of the assignments and studying necessary to succeed on your mid-terms, while still maintaining the other aspects of your life
    • When writing it, you can incorporate everything necessary for school such as your set class times, assignments, homework, and studying you should accomplish each day
    • Be sure to also include other set time commitments such as jobs and extra curriculars
    • Finally, it will allow you to put in time to take breaks to see friends or to go to the gym, and to do laundry, eat meals, exercise, etc.


  2. 50/10 rule for studying
    • Study or work on a task for 50 minutes and then take a break for 10 minutes. A study has shown that you remember best what you study within the first 25 minutes and the last 25 minutes of a study session


  3. Actively use time between classes
    • By using time in between classes, you are often able to accomplish shorter tasks and will have completed more throughout the day by doing so
    • Treat each day like a work day and each week like a work week and put in your 40 hours of work per week


  4. Sleep 7-8 hours per night
    • Students often think that they need to sacrifice sleep to complete their homework or studying. But by getting the right amount of sleep, you will be more efficient at completing your studying



Maxwell, John C. “Dreams Don’t Work Unless you Do.” Quote Fancy, 2017.


  1. Eat a frog for breakfast
    • Complete your most difficult studying or assignment in the morning so that you are not dreading working on it the entire day and putting it off


  2. Review concepts before, during, and after class
    • By doing this, you are ensuring that you truly understand the content and will more easily recall the information when studying later for the actual mid-term or final exam


  3. Nip confusion in the bud
    • Go to your TA/professor’s office hours, send them an e-mail, or speak with them after class so that it is clear what you must do for an assignment or on the mid-term


  4. Refer to past exams, use assignments, or course learning objectives to study
    • Check exam-bank for old exams to practice studying from, use assignment questions and course learning objectives to generate practice study questions





  1. Think about long term goals
    • How will short term goals of doing well on a mid-term contribute to your long term goal of getting good grades to get into graduate school or help you to graduate so you can have your dream job


Try to remember that the stress of mid-term season is “a difficult road” right now that will “lead to beautiful destinations” later on. You are the one who gets to decide how you want to tackle these tough days or weeks during the semester in order to achieve your goals!


 Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.


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By: Parker Nann, 4th year commerce student

School can be tough. As assignments, midterms, and papers begin to stack up, the drive to lock ourselves away in a productive frenzy can seem like an attractive solution to burgeoning to-do lists. As appealing as this ‘grind’ can be, it leaves us vulnerable to isolation, and isolation is a threat to academic success, health, and happiness. While we do need some solo time to study, it is vital to seek help when we become stuck or frustrated. I can think of many times when I was sitting by myself, in my room or in the library, stuck on a problem which easily could have been solved with some basic clarification. Even more often, my frustration could have been eased with some kindness and encouragement. What I (and many of us on campus) struggle with is actually seeking the many avenues of help that are available to us. Here are three sources of help that I feel are most important:

Friends and Classmates:

Last year, I wrote about the so-called ‘Happiness Advantage’ which posits a link between happiness and success, both academically and professionally. One pillar of the theory suggests that during times of stress we should reach out to our social networks for support and encouragement, rather than withdrawing from these networks under the guise of ‘being too busy.’ While it may seem illogical to recommend spending time with your friends when you have a lot of work to do, taking breaks to engage in meaningful social interactions will keep you happy, and therefore primed to be more productive (and successful) upon resuming your work.

Of course, moderation is suggested here. Don’t spend three hours with your friends the night before an unfinished paper is due. What I do suggest is taking small breaks to refresh and reach out to your friends for encouragement – you’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel while working. Resist the temptation of the all-day grind. Take some time to see your friends and other people who make you feel happy.


Although they are responsible for the difficult assignments and exams that you endure, professors really do want you to succeed. Your professors and teaching assistants are your best source of help for your coursework, and they are willing to help you if you make the effort to ask. Still, I understand how difficult it can be to determine where, when, and how to approach your professors. I use these strategies:

  • At the beginning of the semester, I always write down my professors’ email addresses and office hours in my weekly schedule, so that this information is easily accessible. Since half the battle is finding out when your professors are available, this is helpful.
  • As I go through readings, problems, or lecture notes, I have a pad of sticky-notes beside me. Whenever I come across something that doesn’t quite make sense or needs clarification, I mark the page or problem with a sticky note, and write a brief note to myself which will help me remember what I was confused about. This system saves you time when you see your professors, and allows you to focus on your readings and notes, confident that you will not forget what material you need to revisit.

Professional Help:

Sometimes your professors and friends may not be able to give you the support you need. If you reach out to your professors and friends, but still feel down, frustrated, or overwhelmed, consider seeing some of the professional resources on campus. You won’t be able to concentrate or succeed at school if you’re not feeling well!

  • Professional Learning Strategists: Student Academic Success Services provides many resources, including the Peer Learning Assistants (like me!) and professional Learning Strategists. If you are having trouble managing your time, learning new information, or if you feel like you need help with school in general, book an appointment for a 1-on-1 consultation at
  • Student Wellness Services: If you feel like you need some help with your mental or physical health, schedule an appointment with Student Wellness Services. A healthy mind and body will help you succeed in school!

Final Thoughts

Isolating yourself during ‘the grind’ can work for a short period of time, but eventually leads to frustration, stasis and unhappiness. When the schoolwork begins to pile up, reach out to your friends to keep you happy, your professors to keep you on track, and professional resources to keep you healthy. These resources will go far in helping you become a more successful—and happy—student.


Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0

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A guide to starting the school year on the right foot

By Zier Zhou, 2nd year Life Sciences student


Look no further for the perfect back-to-school motivation

They say that the best books tell you what you already know, so maybe this goes for advice as well. Keep reading for quick tips on how to set a healthy routine for successful start on the fall semester!


Declutter your life

Reset sleep patterns

We’ve all heard that sleep is vital for our physical health, daytime performance, and healthy brain function. Make it a top priority and aim to get around eight hours each night. While many people argue against morning classes, waking up early for lectures can be a good thing because it forces you to develop a routine that allows for more productivity during the rest of the day.

Clear everything

Being surrounded by clutter can often distract you from more important things and create unwanted stress. The new semester is another chance to start fresh, so organizing your internal and external environment is essential. There is no better time than now to get rid of old clothes, books, and other miscellaneous items you don’t need. Furthermore, find a to free your mind and stop worrying about past problems that can no longer be fixed. For confidential crisis support or one-to-one counselling, book an appointment with Counselling Services.

Plan your activities

The life of a typical Queen’s student is quite busy, so it’s incredibly helpful to keep track of your class quizzes, club meetings, and various upcoming events by writing them down in a planner or on a calendar. Making daily to-do lists and estimating how long each task will take is also an effective way to manage your time and stay on top of things. Take a look at what kind of time management resources SASS has to offer.


Study mode: activated

Set high expectations

Who recalls that inspirational quote about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars, stuck on the wall of every elementary school classroom? Be confident in your abilities, stubborn about your goals, and flexible in your methods for achieving them. Challenge yourself to see how far you can go, because how will you ever know if you don’t try? See more on tips for setting smart goals here.

Minimize distractions

Libraries are one of the few places where you can go to be simultaneously surrounded by people and silence. Going there to learn is a good idea, not only because to avoid disruptions, but it’s also motivating when everyone else around you is studying. Opening your textbook and flipping to the first page is often the hardest part, but as time passes, you’ll find yourself learning and adapting to a new routine. Remember: nothing is stronger than habit.

Find what works for you

There is no ultimate study strategy, since what works best greatly depends on the student and the topic. Creating flashcards, forming connections, and using spaced repetition is helpful for memorizing information. To fully test your understanding, work on lots of practice problems and make sure you can explain what you’ve learned in your own words. For more information on improving your study skills, visit this page.


Attitude over aptitude

Practice your focus

It’s way too easy to turn your head at the ring of a notification or click open a tab to get lost on Facebook. Break down your work into reasonable intervals and time yourself with the Pomodoro technique. Whether it’s classical melodies or the sound of rain, listening to something without lyrics may also improve your concentration. For more techniques on maintaining focus, look here.

Balance is key

Taking short breaks in between your homework sessions are just as important as the studying itself. Studies have suggested that exercise, such as running and yoga, enhances your memory and focus. Celebrate small successes, and never forget to make time to keep in touch with family, have fun with your friends, and pursue your own creative hobbies.

Positive thinking only

You won’t always be able to control what happens, but you are in control of how you think and respond to the situation. The loudest and most powerful voice you hear is your own inner voice. Let it tell you to keep looking on the bright side, because even the most devastating mistakes can be viewed as an opportunity to learn from them. Never hesitate to seek further help – for example, SASS offers free individual professional advising with a learning strategist.


Photo courtesy of Free Range Stock under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0

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Dear first-year me…

By Victoria Wolf, 4th year French/Linguistics student

Dear first-year me (& whoever else might be reading this),

Three years have flown by and I suddenly find myself in the first week of my fourth year. While I’m definitely not the perfect student (is there even such a thing?), I have learned a bit about the DOs and DON’Ts of university that I wanted to share with you.

1. Taking regular breaks is so important! Don’t try to power through five hours of readings in one sitting – university is a marathon, not a sprint. Try the 50-10 rule – set a timer for 50 minutes and spend that time working towards a goal with no interruptions, then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this time to take a break and recharge.

2. Take advantage of little breaks you find between classes and use this time to catch up on work, review course notes or preview slides for your next lecture. It can be easy to go home during that hour and a half gap and convince yourself you’ll be productive, but it turns into a long and guilt-filled journey into the depths of Instagram every time.

3. Stauffer and Douglas aren’t the only places to study on campus. You might like empty classrooms – they’re especially useful for group studying because you can make use of the chalkboards and projectors. Coffee shops downtown might also provide some inspiration (and fuel), as well as get you out of the campus bubble for a bit, when you’re working on daunting papers.

4. It’s okay to say “no” sometimes. When you’re surrounded by other students, it can be tempting to accept every invitation, and easy to spread yourself too thin. They will understand; they’re in the same boat as you and often wish they had the courage to do the same thing. Catch up with them next time; it’ll be much more enjoyable if you use your plans with friends as a reward for finishing a task.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who are so willing to help you (it’s their job!) – your dons, your profs and TAs, Queen’s Student Academic Success Services, Student Wellness Services and so many more. It’ll make life at Queen’s so much easier!

Cha gheill,
Fourth-year you


Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.

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Self-Care and Mental Health – Taking Care of YOU!

By Jessica MacNaught, 3rd year ConEd Linguistics/French student

Take time to take care of the most important person – yourself. 

As all students know, it can be hard when you need to balance school, extracurriculars, and a social life. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember to take care of yourself physically – to eat, sleep, and exercise enough to be healthy and feel your best. But what about your mental health?

Mental health is something we all have, and something that it is important for all of us to remain conscious of, even during stressful times such as midterm or exam season. It is very easy to get caught up in a hectic schedule and feel overwhelmed. However, it is always important to remember that your health is more important than anything else, and your mental health is just as valid as your physical health (and sometimes they can be interconnected)!

One way that you can take care of your mental well-being is to ensure that you practice effective self-care. Self-care is the act of doing something that makes you feel rejuvenated and at peace in order to maintain a healthy mind and soul. Self-care can be anything that makes you feel happy – whether it’s going for a jog, watching some Netflix, spending time with your pet, calling a friend, colouring, or more! Try to schedule in some time just for yourself each week, where you can check in with yourself and take care of YOU, the most important person.

There is a great resource from Queen’s Student Academic Success Services (SASS) that can help to reflect on how much you are taking care of yourself. You can find it here.  This sheet showcases a number of ways you can care for yourself, and look out for yourself (for example, asking for help from others or saying “no” to requests when you know you don’t have time) and allows you to evaluate your use of these methods. Using this resource made me aware that I wasn’t really taking the time to make sure that I was caring for myself as much as I needed to. When I took the time to reflect and take care of myself, I felt more peaceful and more productive. Another way to improve your mental health is to avoid stressors as much as you can. If you know that a situation makes you feel negatively, work towards avoiding or at least preparing for that situation. For example, If speaking publicly makes you nervous, you can minimize that anxiety by preparing in advance for a presentation – there are some really great public speaking resources here. You can write a script, practice the presentation with friends, or ask your professor if you can present to them one-on-one.

As for myself, I get anxious about forgetting what I am doing next, so I use a schedule on Google Calendar to plan my day so I know I won’t miss anything important! Another way to make self-care a priority is to add it into your schedule.  I use cooking and baking as a form of self-care, and it makes me feel relaxed and productive, but you might like to do something else – and that’s okay, because there is no one way to practice self-care! Choose a few hours each week to dedicate to yourself, and make it a date! When you get back to studying, working, and living life, you’ll feel so much more refreshed and ready to face the day.

If you find that you need to talk to someone about your mental health, don’t be afraid to reach out and get help. The Peer Support Centre at Queen’s, which is located in Room 034 of the JDUC, is a confidential, non-judgemental, positive space where you can go to talk to a volunteer about any topic, and they are so supportive! Good2Talk, a hotline for post-secondary students, is also open 24 hours and can be reached at 1-866-925-5454.


Here are some ways to use self-care!

Photo courtesy of Sacha Chua under flickr Creative Commons License 2.0.

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5 things YOU CAN DO, and 5 songs to JAM TO

By: Julia Tighe, 3rd year Con-Ed/Health Studies student

cat lying on notebook

I’m not going to deny it, this is a difficult time for university students. Week 4 readings are coming back to bite you, final exams are looming, and assignments are real. Very real. Regardless which program you’re in, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and the sun is staying out longer every day.

NOW…I’m going to make TWO bets with you:

  • I bet that you will be able to do all 5 things I list in this blog.


  • I bet that you will sing along to at least one of the songs its aligned with.

Don’t believe me? Read on to prove me wrong 😉

NUMBER 1: Break Free by Ariana Grande


Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been at Stauffer all day long, and some days all night long. Take wisdom from me: THIS DOESN’T HELP. At hour 3 of studying, my brain goes to mush and a break is needed. Number one thing YOU CAN do this exam season is take breaks while studying. Not only will it allow your brain a break, it will actually help you consolidate all the information you have been learning!


NUMBER 2: Slow and Steady by Of Monsters and Men


 Exams are a marathon not a sprint. By planning out your exam season it allows you to p a c e   y o u r s e l f.  We definitely do not want any exam to sneak up on you like those multiple 4-pieces from Lazy. What some people forget is that scheduling time to go to the gym or to FaceTime your dog is an important aspect to your exam success as well. The BEST template to create a plan for yourself can be found here.



NUMBER 3: All Star by Smash Mouth


 One of my favorite exam study tricks is to eat a frog for breakfast. Eat a WHAT you ask? No, I’m not recommending you eat a real live frog – however, I am recommending you do your scariest most dreadful course first thing in your study day. By getting the worst thing out of the way first, the rest of the day will be super smooth. A super smooth day means a less stressful one too. Just remember when you’re facing your dreaded course head on, hey now, you’re an ALL STAR.



NUMBER 4: Human by One Republic

— REMEMBER, you’re only human —

 The final step to your exam season success is to be calm. You have done an amazing job preparing and will rock your exams! Remember your growth mindset as well while working – you may not be rocking every step of the exam process from the get go but you will get there! You’re only human. Watch a TED talk on the growth mind set here.


NUMBER 5: And Then Some by the Arkells

~-~ Take Care of YOU ~-~

             For me, FaceTime-ing my sister during exam season is just what I need in times that I’m feeling down. It is just as important to stay on track academically as it is to keep a normal routine. Listening to your favourite song, keeping physically active, eating healthy foods, and laughing as often as possible will all keep your brain fresh for absorbing information to apply on your exams.


I know you are going to rock your exams this season, because you took the time to get prepared! You are one step ahead of the exam game. Remember you are not your grades, you are way more than that. A successful exam season doesn’t mean straight A’s, your wellbeing is important as well. You can do this!

If you are looking for even more resources or tips and tricks from other Peer Learning Assistants check out! There are so many incredible peers who want to help you succeed.

Now, did I win the bet?

Photo courtesy of Kroszk@ under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.

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Why you should talk to your profs

The best thing I ever did for my school work (writing, classes in general, all of it) was get up the courage to go talk to my professors.

In my experience, undergrads have a tendency to be intimidated about going to see their course instructors about their papers, especially in the early years. But the truth is, profs and TAs are there to help you do well in the course – they want to see you succeed – and going to talk to them about any questions you have, bouncing ideas off of them for the outline of a paper, running a thesis by them, whatever, can really help keep you on track with your ideas, and help you organize your thoughts. I often find my papers are better structured, and I have avoided silly little mistakes made out of ignorance when I meet with my Prof before handing in an assignment. These meetings don’t have to be long, but they allow you to get feedback before you get your grade, which is great! You could email your course instructors for these kinds of questions, sure, but in my experience, something gets lost without that face-to-face interaction. You can get a lot more out of a 15-minute conversation with someone than you can in 15 emails (not to mention it takes a lot less time).

Another bonus that most people don’t think about is that arranging to have a quick chat with your course instructor about an assignment forces you to manage your time. If I am going to see a prof about my thesis for a paper 2 weeks before that paper is due, then I have to have a thesis (and probably an outline) for said paper 2 weeks before it’s due. BAM! Time management.

But wait, there’s more! Getting to know your profs and TAs by going to talk to them face-to-face helps build relationships. That may sound trivial at first, but think about it: these are the people who may, one day, give you references for jobs or post-graduate studies. Building those relationships now can open a lot of doors in the future. Furthermore, your course instructors are a wealth of information (and not just about their subject matter), so why not take advantage of that? Say you’re thinking about doing a graduate degree. Who better to ask about master’s programs than your TA, who is currently working on their master’s?

I’ve had profs who have changed the way I write, who have changed the way I look at the world, and who have thoroughly enriched my time at Queen’s so far. This is a rare opportunity for us as students, so take advantage of it! So go talk to them – they don’t bite!


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How to approach an essay exam

By Sophia Klymchuk, 2nd year ConEd/French/Psych student

It is common knowledge that different types of exams require different approaches to studying. While some courses, especially in the maths and sciences, often require memorization and practice problems in your studying, essay-based exams require a different technique.

This semester, I have three essay-based exams, where I am given 2 to 3 hours to write on a major text or concept that was covered throughout my course. In first year, I approached these types of exams with uneasiness. It is hard enough for me to write an essay in a few weeks time, I thought, what makes my professor think that I can do so in 3 hours?

Luckily, the past few exam sessions have helped me cultivate the skills I need to write these exams with ease, which I am happy to share in this blog post.

The first thing you want to do is consult your course syllabus to get a bird’s eye view of any readings you still have to catch up on, or any course concepts that you are still unfamiliar with. In general, your first priority should be to familiarize yourself with any course content you may have missed. This is especially important if your exam is cumulative, and covers your course as a whole.

If you are unsure of what exactly will be asked of you during your exam, talk to your professor or T.A.! They are one of your most important resources when it comes to studying, and will let you know exactly which content you should be prioritizing. This can come in handy when you are making your study schedule and can make you feel less overwhelmed about the entirety of the course.

Next, you want to make a study schedule that you will stick to during the exam period. The Student Academic Success Services exam schedule, often used by the Peer Learning Assistants, can help. Set aside 3 hour blocks to study for your course. Remember to take short breaks, and to vary the content you are studying! For example, choose one day to focus on one course concept, and then the next on a different concept.

The next step is to brainstorm potential essay topics. If you are in an English course, it might be useful to write down a list of the major themes of the course and link them to the texts you’ve seen in class. Organize your ideas by making a mind-map or a chart, and don’t be afraid to use colour! This helps organize your thoughts, and helps you visualize the links and associations between texts, themes, and examples. Adding colour to link together similar ideas in  your mind-map or chart is a good idea because our brains like colour, and helps solidify these associations.

Finally, find the time to write practice essays, as if you were in a mock exam! Practice is the best way to make the task at hand during the exam less daunting, and it equips you with the confidence you need to face your exam! Create your own exam topics by consulting your list of themes and your lecture notes, or look at past exams on Exambank. Find a comfortable, distraction-free place to do so. If the idea of writing a whole essay does not appeal to you, practice making outlines for potential essay topics.

On the day of your exam, make sure to relax and breathe! Avoid talking to anyone who is too nervous, and take an hour before the exam to relax and not look at notes. For example, I like to take a walk by the lake before my exams to clear my head.

Find more tips here:

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How to Study For (insert your course)

By Gaurav Talwar 2nd Year, Life Sciences Student


            Within two weeks, the official exam session will begin. This statement came to my mind a few days ago, when I started making a schedule for how I would approach my winter exams. As usual and expected, writing an exam can be fairly intimidating. However, what may be an even more daunting is trying to figure out how to begin studying.

             Approaching my fourth set of university final exams (being in my second year of the Life Sciences Program), I feel that I have learned a lot about my study strategies; including what works for me, what I can still improve on. In this blog, I would like to share one strategy which I feel over-arches the process of successfully studying for any exam:

 The strategy is to tailor your studying skills and practice activities towards the specific exam at hand. Believe it or not, but the quote, One size does NOT fit all”, was originally made to explain to university students that one standard studying approach is NOT usually suitable for all of their exams*. (*P.S. Please do not quote me on the historical facts of this quote, it’s just the way I interpret it).

             For example, my Microbiology exam requires a fair bit of memorization (names of viruses, their families, how they replicate…) and is an all multiple choice exam. This is very different from my Organic Chemistry exam, which will include some short answer questions and requires familiarity with how various groups of compounds interact with each other. Thus, I’ll probably need to use a lot of reciting, association and memorizing strategies for the first course, while I’ll need to spend much more time doing practice questions and recognizing patterns for the latter.

 In addition, each of these activities will require me to access a different “level of learning”. As Peer Learning Assistants, we often talk about recognizing the importance of these “levels of learning” and knowing in advance what levels your exam will most emphasize, so that you can allocate your TIME and EFFORTS accordingly. Also, similar to climbing up a ladder without slipping off, it is important that you build your way up the levels, because a strong foundation for each step below will make you more prepared for the more difficult questions. So with that, let’s get a summary for each level (from bottom to top):

  1. Memorization: All courses and exams involve some degree of memorization (but some emphasize this much more than others). Knowing facts, dates, names of people and theories is perhaps the most basic level of learning you need to master. Some strategies, including using flash cards, reciting terms, and making up mnemonics (e.g. “Super Man Helps Every One” for the order of the great lakes from west to east) are very helpful strategies to practice this skill.          
  1. Understand Connections: Many multiple choice questions tend to focus on your ability to make connections between the concepts taught in class. This is an effective way for the professor to check if you can demonstrate an understanding of the facts and terms you learned. For example, a biology question may ask, “which of the following options places the process of photosynthesis in the correct order?” The use of visual flow charts and mind maps really help out for this level, because they allow you to visually see and understand how the various concepts are linked together.
  1. Think conceptually; apply and analyze: This level is aimed to mark your critical thinking abilities. Often tested via multiple choice questions, you may be given a situation which looks different to what was taught in class, but follows similar principles. Hence, you may need to apply your knowledge to make an educated guess. For example, in Psychology, you may have learned a theory about why people behave the way they do (nature vs nurture). The question may then give you a situation with someone behaving in a particular manner, and your task may be to choose how a person practicing one of those specific theories would explain the individual’s actions. Using a note taking method such as the Cornell method (which requires you to write a summary in your own words) and making “home-made questions” to test your friends may be effective for this type of learning (as they will stimulate a discussion beyond the facts, and may force you to think through various perspectives).

      4/5. Evaluate and Create: These levels test your creative thinking. Often tested via essay questions, these questions may begin with words such as “design”, “propose”, “distinguish between” and “examine”. Your task here may be to take what was taught in class, and to apply it to a larger cause. In a literature course, this may involve comparing the actions of two characters in the texts you read, and to evaluate them in relation to a personality theory you learned. For a science course, this may involve extrapolating a chemical reaction you learned to one that you have never seen before. Although a little daunting, these questions really push your ability to think “outside the box” (and are useful in the long run, as you want to be able to apply what you are learning in class to the profession you embrace later). Studying for this level may involve practicing the “higher level thinking questions” in your textbooks and making another mind map which links the concepts taught to questions you could infer to see on the exam.

            To summarize, keeping in mind what level of thinking your exam will be testing can really help in finding a well suited strategy to study for your exam. Although there is no right or wrong way to study, there are some ways which are more effective than others. I really hope that you make the smart decision of sparing some time to think about your approach, because as always, you want to MAXIMIZE YOUR LEARNING, while MINIMIZING THE EXTRA TIME you need to spend.


More information:

To get specific tips on how to study for your exam type, check out Learning Strategies “Exam prep” resources be clicking here. Even better, if you are taking a first year course, then check out the “How to Study for …” course-specific workshops which Upper Year PLA’s will be presenting in the upcoming weeks!


Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.

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