Learning Blog

The McGraw Center is here to help all students adapt to the new and unfamiliar expectations and demands that go with the unique aspects of Princeton academic life. We want to reassure you that you belong here, we have confidence that you can adjust to new challenges and attain your goals. With a spirit of camaraderie, resourcefulness, and resilience we’re here with you to tackle difficulties as they arise creatively and strategically.

We believe that it’s useful to conceptualize Princeton as a distinctive teaching-learning culture. As you transition into and through this culture and community we expect that you’ll encounter new kinds of courses with new expectations and demands that will require you to adapt your academic approach and acquire new skills and strategies. Doing so not only assists you in getting an excellent education it is an essential PART of an excellent education.

In this blog we will respond to questions and issues raised by Princeton students with brief posts that include concrete, actionable advice and incorporate other McGraw resources. Posts will be added frequently, so please share with us challenges, questions, and topics you would like addressed

What are your thoughts on flash cards for language classes?

A lot depends on what’s on them and HOW you use them. What’s crucial about any method of study is what mental processes the student engages in and how it fits into a multi-faceted approach to learning what is most important.

Practice at retrieval and self-assessing can be very powerful methods for learning and solidifying knowledge…

Exercise is really important to me during the semester. Should I continue to work out during reading and finals period?

You can gain these cognitive benefits from as little as 10 minutes of exercise prior to your exam.

I know I need to do SOMETHING different in my classes to achieve my goals, but I’m not sure what. Can McGraw help?

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…

Even though I want to do well on my midterms, I’m procrastinating on studying. Why is that?

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.

Yes, burn out is a thing, and there are some things you can do about it.

Students (and others on campus, I might add) more frequently comment in the period after spring “break” that they are experiencing burn out. It seems people are feeling more depleted and less energized, and experience the ‘weight’ of their academic (and other) demands more powerfully and persistently. While some of the reasons for this are…

What’s the most prevalent challenge that students face as they acclimate to the academic environment at Princeton?

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…

Test-taking Techniques

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. Therefore, how one practices is crucial; becoming fluent, and flexible with conceptual content, as well as methods of problem-solving, all while working under timed circumstances, is a necessity.

Studying and Exam Prep: What exactly are they, and how are they different?

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…

Final Projects, Dean’s Date Papers and Final Exams on your mind?

McGraw can help you prepare for and excel on end-of-semester assignments and exams.

What Can I Do Now To Prepare For Dean’s Date & Finals?

Q: Finals feel far away, but I know they will come quickly. What can I do to get ready for finals?

A: With all the disruption to academics (and our lives) many students have voiced concerns that they’ll be as prepared for Dean’s Date and Finals once classes end as they usually are, so this is an important question. Recently we…