There are a number of factors that go into this and there are important differences among students. But, having said that, perhaps the most prevalent challenge, academically—and academics are for many the biggest challenge at Princeton—is adapting to the fact that what worked academically so well in the past as to get you to Princeton, once you are here in many ways won’t be effective in this context. So, students have to give up or ‘unlearn’ approaches that worked in the past, and try out new, unfamiliar ones.
Tests are not transparent measures of what students know, and performing well on them is not simply a matter of knowing the relevant course content.
It’s useful to distinguish the act of ‘studying’ from the process of ‘exam prep’ in order to home in on how to do each of them optimally. In short, while they certainly overlap both in terms of methods and mental processes involved, they differ in that studying generally emphasizes ‘taking in’ information and organizing, synthesizing and solidifying knowledge. On the other hand, exam prep involves preparing to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise by anticipating and practicing the kinds of questions and problems you’re likely to encounter on the exam.
McGraw can help you prepare for and excel on end-of-semester assignments and exams.
Q: Finals feel far away, but I know they will come quickly. What can I do to get ready for finals?
Q: I can’t seem to get into an “academic rhythm” in the same way at home as I did when I was on campus—what are some things I can do?
Strive to make your academic work as collaborative as possible. Create study groups, contact friends to serve as accountability partners, be proactive in your classes to reach out to students you don’t already know. And, of course, devote non-academic time to meeting your social needs and just having fun “with” others.
There’s a lot to adapt to.Whether you are on or off campus there is now a lot less structure to your day, fewer environmental and social cues that you are a student in college, and there may well be greater distractions of a less-than-ideal workspace, so your difficulty is understandable—and that’s not even considering the economic, health, and personal worries you might be having about COVID-19.
Without extracurriculars and other non-academic activities, some of you may feel like you have more ‘free time’ yet find it more difficult to get started, create a doable schedule, and stay on task. Use McGraw resources to structure your ‘unstructured time’ (a more accurate term) and create a realistic, repeatable routine.
Many of us find it difficult to work at home and are missing our favorite workspace(s) on campus right now. Establishing a workspace that is physically, socially, and mentally conducive to productively engaging in your academic work will be crucial in the coming weeks. Use the advice “Designing Your Workspace” under the third bullet, “Creating Conditions Conducive to Engagement and Learning”.