This is something that many students dread. They work hard, they put in the effort, but yet still aren’t able to push the bar pass a course.
I checked my grades today and I found out I failed Cognitive Science. I picked up a pair of C’s in Criminology and English. There’s one more grade coming up that has not been released yet.
It’s an incredibly different feeling when you’re on the other side of the fence. Usually it’s my friends who are stressing and worrying about failing exams. I’m the one that tries to cheer them up and encourage them. They’re not going to fail the course because they’re just absolutely brilliant in many ways. The only reason they’re going to fail a course is if the prof makes a typo on your grade. Is it not ironic then that the person who is the most calm and collected about school ends up being the one who doesn’t make the cut and fails a course?
It’s not often that I don’t know what to do. First, I’m going to lie down and think.
Okay, I’m finished wallowing in my self pity. I just sat and laid on my bed for about an hour just closing my eyes and thinking. After that, I got up and walked over to my computer and started talking with some people.
I know I did well on my assignments as a whole. I pulled a B on my paper for CRIM and a C+ for English. Obviously not the greatest marks, but not terrible either. I got an A+ on my presentation.
The course readings I kept up with as best I could. At worse, I would have only been behind one chapter (during midterm weeks).
Where I Choked
Exams. If there’s one thing that was consistent across all my courses this semester, it would be in finals and midterms. I failed my Crim midterm early on. I must’ve done poorly in my Cogs final exam (which was worth 50%).
An important lesson I learned in World of Warcraft is that when you have a problem, find out what it is and what you can do to fix it. It’s stupid to fight a boss doing the same things that got you killed in the first place. What’s the point of running into a brick wall when you know you can’t break through it, right?
Problem: Choking on exams.
Solution: I have no freakin’ idea.
Let’s see if I can devise one.
There’s no way I can study at home. There’s a computer and a bed in my room. The kitchen table has food. There’s always a game being played on TV.
So what do I do?
I go the library. I like the downtown Vancouver library since there’s a Blenz conveniently close by. I’d sit there and read and write.
I’m very glad I met Alicia last year. Without her help and support, I doubt I would still be enrolled in SFU this semester. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have any classes together this semester. But that’s beside the point because I cannot continue relying on others to help me do well in school. That’s a problem there that I’m trying to address. Friends are an incredible asset when you’re studying. They can help you focus and stay on track. If they’re not, then why are you studying with them? I’m used to having a friend around to study with that I may have inadvertently started relying on them for help all the time.
However, I still think you should make friends with the smartest person in class. You start picking up on their habits and studying regimens. You learn different techniques and you can help each other when there’s a topic you don’t understand. Instant messaging is no subsitute for face to face studying.
I’m going to try making extensive use of them when studying. Writing a term on one side and the definition on the other should help. I remember borrowing a friend’s set of flash cards during the summer for 220 and that worked well. I can’t believe I didn’t utilize them myself this year.
Asking questions is not a problem for me. It’s asking questions in front of 300 other students that gives me pause. Profs always encourage you to ask and speak up, but it’s still a little nerve wracking either way. What I’m going to do is set a time each week to visit a TA or a Prof and ask questions. If I don’t have any, I’ll come up with some on the spot to help clarify my understanding. The important thing is to come in there with the mindset that it’s part of the schedule and not optional. If I can force myself to do that, then I should perform a little better.
Have you ever seen textbooks where all your friends would do is highlight a whole page? What’s the point of that?
Alicia took it a step further and suggested that I start color coding my highlights.
- Green for formulas
- Yellow for terms
- Blue for concepts
- Pencil underlining for definitions
There’s a slight problem. I don’t have a set of highlighters to use. If I only had a set of highlighters then I’d be able to use them! As such, the only highlighting I’ve done is with this blue pen I got on career day. Christmas is coming up in under a week. I wonder if someone will get me a set of highlighters for Christmas.
My Own Study Guide
I’m going to make my own study guide leading up to the exam. I just saw an example of one and it looked nice. It’s a collection of notes from lectures and textbooks all combined into one neat pdf that can be printed out. It’s a way of reinforcing everything you learn because:
- You’re compiling it from source information in your own words
- You’re reading it again to make sure it’s neat and makes sense
- You’re reading it one more time to study off of it
- It includes information that you think is relevant to the exam
I’ve got my goals all set for next semester. I’m below the 2.0 mark for my cumulative GPA. If I stay below that for another semester, I get kicked out of the University. One semester is all I have now and it’s literally going to make or break me.
It’s the holiday season and Christmas is almost here.
All of a sudden I’ve lost the desire to celebrate and go out partying.
And I’m putting it here for the record that I promised Alicia that I will focus and work harder.