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Peer blog: “How much longer?” Ending the semester strong

Santosh, Life Sciences, Class of 2023

Hi Gaels!

With a few weeks left before exam season, we are nearing the end of classes. I really enjoy this period because it brings closure to all the topics that we learned throughout the semester and it helps us understand how everything fits together into wider, bigger concepts and theories!

However, I’m pretty sure we all had a moment over the past few months where we thought to ourselves, “How much longer?” I definitely had a few of those throughout the semester. Luckily, with exams just around the corner, the term is beginning to wrap up and the holidays are inching closer by the second. With that being said, these final few weeks are what make up most of our grades and so, we still have some work to do before we let our foot off the pedal!

During this time, we tend to have individual questions about the course content or assignments. Normally, these would be answered by our professors after a lecture, but with online schooling, we need to find new ways to clarify our doubts. This is where discussion boards, virtual office hours, and tutorial sessions come into play. These are great avenues to get clarification on any doubts or questions you might have. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to use the discussion boards at the beginning of the semester because I had a feeling that my questions were not “good” enough. Although, after seeing my peers ask all kinds of questions ranging from font size inquires to assignment doubts, I understood that discussion boards are a way to get fast responses to any kind of question. Even if you have had a question since the first week of the semester, go ask it now! It is normal for students to discuss concepts from earlier periods of the course before exams. The last thing you want is the one topic that you struggled with to come up on the exam. Going to office hours can help clarify your doubts—and maybe a few of your peer’s questions as well! A pro tip: professors sometimes even drop a few hints about the exam during office hours at this time of the semester, so keep a lookout for them!

The last few weeks of November is also a time where we have to complete more assignments than we can count. On top of that, these summative assignments require us to use all the concepts we learned throughout the semester. Remember, these assessments are usually worth a substantial portion of your grade, so take your time and make sure you hand in your best work. Therefore, begin work on these assignments as early as possible! Doing a bit each day—even if it’s just five or ten minutes—helps ease the workload and the stress that comes with it. The SASS Assignment Planner can help you create a realistic schedule that will help you finish these assignments to the best of your ability. A few writing tips from SASS’s writing resources or having a Peer Writing Assistant help you improve your writing could elevate your work to that next level.

A saving grace for me last year was to use the end-of-semester period to prepare for exam season. By that, I don’t mean studying and revising, but just organizing my notes, making sure I had all my resources, and creating a schedule that I stuck to during December (all the info you need is right here). The exam period should be spent studying for your exams. It shouldn’t be spent trying to find a piece of a paper from week two that has somehow ended up under your bed (real story of mine, unfortunately). Doing this will also get you into the mindset of studying once exams begin because you will have all the necessary tools to succeed right in front of you. If you want to take this a step further, go to the Queen’s University Exam Bank and collect some past exams for you to go over when you begin to study. Take a few minutes each day to do this prepping and by the time exams roll around you will be ready to go. (Disclaimer: don’t assume the prof will definitely repeat questions from previous years’ exams!)

Finally, make sure your physical and mental health does not take a back seat during this hectic period. It is easy to get into the trap of sleeping less than seven hours a night or studying non-stop for a few days straight. Whenever I feel like my mental health is taking a hit, I go for a run to get some fresh air, I talk to my family and friends, or I eat a healthy snack like fruit! These activities help clear my mind and give me a much-needed break from studying. Try one of these approaches for yourselves and see how it goes.

Well, my fellow Gaels, we made it through two and a half grueling months of online school and we only have one more to go. Remember to celebrate your successes thus far this semester and use your setbacks to help drive you to success. And as Thomas Edison once said, “there is no substitute for hard work”: keep it up for just a little while longer and exams will be done!

I’ll talk to you all next time!