Exercise is really important to me during the semester. Should I continue to work out during reading and finals period?
As learners we adjust our approaches to learning to the features of each course—and all the courses (and other things in our schedules)—we are taking. Much figuring out of expectations and ways of teaching and testing is done at the beginning of a course. But, actually, this process of adjustment, or alignment of our learning with how we are being taught is on-going as we gain a deeper understanding of the courses and, sometimes, as content, assignments and instruction change over the course the semester.
If you’re experiencing this you are not alone and perhaps the following explanation can help you understand the underlying reasons for your actions so that you can re-direct your efforts towards your top priorities.
As students, we often do not know what is expected of us by our instructors, including at this juncture in the semester, what upcoming tests will be like and what assessment criteria will be used, and how we will be graded.
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.