All Posts Tagged With: "exams"
As more students ask for extensions, profs ask: is this real?
I met Anna Drake, a University of Waterloo assistant professor, at recent event in Toronto and asked: what are professors talking about these days? She said they’re discussing how many students are presenting with notes from counsellors or doctors saying they’ve been mentally unwell or extremely stressed and are in need of extensions or exam deferrals.
Drake, a political scientist, doesn’t recall this being an issue when she was an undergraduate or when she started teaching as a master’s student in 2001. But a few years ago, a professor warned her and other teaching assistants at Queen’s University that, “it seemed to be fairly easy for students to get notes of this kind.” Too easy, perhaps.
Later, teaching her own course at the University of Victoria, she was surprised when four students out of roughly 40 presented with notes near the end of the term asking to defer their semesters.
What students are talking about today (April 11th)
1. Legally Blonde, the film starring Reese Withersoon as a California girl who conquers Harvard Law School, is now officially a classic. Most of today’s undergraduates would have been too young to watch it back in 2001, but they’ve apparently downloaded it somewhere. This spring there have been successful stage productions on campuses from Trent University to Western University. The Neptune Theatre in Halifax is staging it from now until May 26th. Saint Mary’s University’s Journal gives it a good review.
2. This week may be the last chance students get to gather and protest recent provincial budget cuts to universities before they disperse for the summer. Approximately 300 people marched on the Alberta legislature on Wednesday to protest a 7.3 per cent cut there, reports The Edmonton Journal. Students also protested on the other side of the country in St. John’s, Newfoundland, reports The Telegram.
3. Dr. Donna Cave, Director of Wellness Services at the University of Alberta, has a weekly advice column for readers of The Gateway student newspaper. I suggest checking it out this week’s submission. She offers scientifically sound (and hilarious) advice for acing your exams. In case you don’t have time to read it, here’s a summary. As little as 20 minutes of exercise daily reduces anxiety and depression, so hit the gym. Sleep deprivation can cause as much impairment as being drunk, so avoid the all-nighters. Oh, and eat properly or your brain won’t work so good.
4. A new Mexican Barbie has offended some Latin American professors in the U.S. She’s “dressed for a fabulous fiesta in her vibrant pink dress with ruffles, lace and brightly coloured ribbon accent,” according to toymaker Mattel. The pet Chihuhua—and passport—are also raising eyebrows. Jason Ruiz, an American studies professor at Notre Dame University, told ABC that passports are a point of “great sensitivity for people of Mexican origin, especially Mexican immigrants.”
5. Medical students at the University of Alberta have released a Disney-themed musical video—not a Lip Dub but something original that they actually wrote and performed. With their notorious workload, it’s amazing they found the time. Then again, there’s a reason they got in. Check it out:
Dr. Donna’s advice for stressed out students
‘Tis the season to be harried! Realizing that not all of you will celebrate Christmas, I still thought we’d poke a little fun at the holiday season. In doing so, I’m going to give you the gift of a superpower, possibly the most powerful tool you can possess to keep healthy and sane during the upcoming exam session, but, like many presents, it will come with “some assembly required”.
What better inspiration for university students as they finish term work and study for exams than that red hooded hero superhero, Santa Claus. Santa Claus? A role model? True, he has the BMI of the Goodyear blimp and an atrocious fashion sense that not even a cross-dressing elf would copy. Agreed, he has a serious eating disorder and a drug habit from smoking who knows what in those pipes that he and Frosty share.
However, despite being an unpaid chimney sweep and no matter how many spiked eggnogs he has consumed the night before, Santa gets the job done on time every year.
Prof. Pettigrew’s five tips for avoiding failure
Distinctions among university students appear starkly at exam time. You can see who has been following along and who has been sleeping through class, who has been doing the reading and who thought the book was too big and expensive to bother.
As winter exams approach, I hope you are one of the organized types. I hope you have been diligently attending every lab, organizing every note, and completing every bonus assignment. If you are, you really won’t need any advice on surviving this semi-annual ordeal.
So let’s imagine that you’re not one of those types. By this point, it’s too late to go back and do everything you should have done to ace your exams. Instead, your best hope is to try to avoid a worst-case scenario. Here are some ways to do that.
1. Be sober.
Prof. Pettigrew on the “write your own questions” final
Stories of bizarre exams are favourites among university students and professors alike. As far as I can tell, most of them are urban legends, but they are fun, nevertheless.
There’s the old chestnut where the philosophy professor asks just one question on the final: “Why?” While most students toil for hours trying to come to grips with the big questions of meaning and purpose, a clever student writes only “Why not?” and gets an A+.
Then there’s the Cambridge student who supposedly demanded cakes and ale at his exam, citing an ancient rule from the medieval university. He got his food but then got kicked out of the exam when the same old rules said he should have been wearing his sword.
Junior hockey team fined $2,000
A hockey coach in Newfoundland was suspended for a year and his team was fined $2,000 after he allowed players to skip a tournament’s opening ceremonies to study for their university exams. Brian Cranford, the coach, has volunteered for the Mount Pearl Junior Blades for 20 years. Several of the 23 players, aged 18 to 20, were writing exams in April when the Don Jonson Cup was held. Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL), which issued the fine and suspension, said they did so because they expected at least a representative of the team to attend the cup ceremony, but none came. Cranford told The Toronto Star that he will appeal the decision to Hockey Canada.
Drips relax and energize students ahead of exams: school
An official in China has confirmed that a controversial photo of high school students hooked up to intravenous drips is real, reports China Daily.
The photo, taken at a school in Xiaogang City, Hubei during a late-night study session, was posted by a microblogger this week and quickly spread across the country. Students are currently preparing for June’s competitive National College Entrance Exam, also known as the Gaokao.
A spokesman for the school said that the drips contain amino acids to help students relax and stay energized. Experts warn that the practice has no proven benefit and comes with a small risk of infection.
Protesters not to blame: associate dean
Two hours into his three-hour economics exam on Monday, third-year McGill University student Nico Ahn’s concentration was broken by a blaring fire alarm. He and hundreds of other students (there was another big exam happening in the same gymnasium) were told to leave their belongings and tests behind.
In the chilly morning air outside, Ahn says he and other students theorized about the alarm. Did someone realize she was going to fail, slip out and pull the trigger? Or was it an anti-tuition protester who wants all students to join Quebec’s boycott of classes—whether they like it or not?
160 arrested in Gatineau
In Quebec, where many students have boycotted classes for months, attempts by universities to hold classes and exams are being severely tested.
More than 160 protesters were arrested on Wednesday at the Université du Québec en Outaouais’s Gatineau campus, after an injunction ordered protesters off campus for two weeks starting Monday. The adults among them were charged hundreds of dollars each for blocking the highway to campus, reports the Montreal Gazette.
Also on Wednesday, the province’s biggest school, the Université de Montréal, called off classes in departments whose student associations have held successful strike votes, despite having earlier encouraged willing students to return to classes this week. The capitulation followed incidents where protesters blocked students from entering and leaving buildings and set off fire alarms during exams, reports the Gazette.
An experienced eye can tell when a student is in trouble
I didn’t set out to make a study of student exam-room behaviour, but by my estimation, I’ve invigilated well over a hundred exams in my career and, after a while, you start to notice things.
One thing I realized lately is that I’ve been getting good at telling who’s failing the exam even as they’re writing it. I don’t use this as a basis for evaluation, of course, but, as I say, you can’t help developing a sense.
Including some tips you’ve never heard
7. Pet a puppy
Pets reduce stress and there may be a furry friend closer than you think. Therapeutic Paws of Canada brings therapy dogs to stressed out students at the University of Ottawa and McGill. BC Pets and Friends comes to the rescue of students at the University of British Columbia.
6. Don’t worry about getting it all done
Chances are good that you won’t have time to catch up on all those textbook chapters. If it looks like you’re going to run out of time, it’s often best to focus on what’s in the lecture notes and the lab reports. The textbook may be the last thing your professor has in mind when designing the test.
Sleep matters. Here’s why.
If you’re a student, that means you’ll soon be juggling exams, essays and final projects—and you may find yourself asking questions like this: Should I spend tonight studying for tomorrow’s psychology exam or should I bang out a few pages of this English essay before bed and move my psych study session to tomorrow before the test?
New research from PLoS One may provide the answer. The study shows that you’re probably better off studying for the exam tonight.
Take-home exams just aren’t the same
I love almost everything about being a professor. Teaching, research—I even look forward to department meetings.
But I hate grading exams. And just as I become a flat-tax advocate every April when I’m trying to locate receipts and hoping I don’t owe the government money, every December I harbor fantasies of getting rid of exams altogether.
Many of my colleagues in the arts are way ahead of me on this, either giving no exams at all, or giving students an extra, essay-like assignment commonly called a “take-home” exam. But since you take it home and have an extended time to do it, it’s not really an exam in the traditional sense.
Don’t end up like the angry library girl at California State
We all know exams cause stress. That explains the reaction of this student in a noisy library at California State University, Northridge.
Personally, I’m with the angry girl.
But that level of stress is better avoided. Last week, we offered readers 10 ways to study stay sane while studying. It was a pretty traditional list. But students across Canada have found a few more creative ways to procrastinate, ahem, study. I thought I’d share them with you.
At McGill University last week, hundreds of students showed up for pet therapy with animals from Therapeutic Paws of Canada. This may sound bizarre to the uninitiated, but there’s reason to believe it works. Petting dogs releases oxytocin in humans. Oxytocin, the so-called “love drug,” reduces anxiety and engenders calm.
At the University of Windsor, Bernarda “Bernie” Doctor, the 78-year-old director of the Organization of Part-Time University Students, offered peers surprise “cookie therapy,” handing out 360 sugar rushes. It’s not the healthiest snack, but Bernie knows how to study: she’s been doing it 50 years.
Leave it to Canada’s computer science mecca, the University of Waterloo, to offer a virtual snowman building game as a study tool. Students can build and share their own Mr. or Mrs. Frosty while snowflakes fall gently down their computer screens. By the way, try typing “let it snow” into Google.
Finally, the award for the weirdest—and smartest—way to cope with exam stress goes to Uytae Lee, a first-year student at Dalhousie University. Lee turned his boredom while studying for a Sustainability 1000 exam into a stop-motion music video with a soothing soundtrack based on his study notes. That’s more fun than traditional studying—and I bet he did well on the exam too.
10 ways to study effectively without falling apart
Exams, assignments and anxiety: for university students, the end of classes in December is just the beginning. Fortunately, there are ways to make it through without sacrificing your well-being. Here, in no particular order, are 10 tips for surviving and thriving during exam season.
1. Embrace list making. Jot down your exam schedule, assignment due dates and important reminders on a calendar. Make a study schedule and stick to it, but don’t forget to pencil in breaks.
2. Find the right study space. Whether you prefer a bustling coffee shop or the library’s silent floor, find a proper chair and pick a well-lit space. Steer clear of the ultimate temptations: television and chatty roommates.
3. Triage. Let’s face it: you can’t properly analyze an entire Shakespeare anthology in three days. Time is limited, so study the hard subjects first (when you’re most alert) and prioritize material based on urgency and relevance.
Test was to take place in Goderich, Ont.
Zak Ashley, a 19-year-old University of Windsor student, missed his exam on natural disasters due, ironically, to the tornado that tore through Goderich, Ont. on Sunday, reports The Windsor Star.
The resident of nearby Wingham was supposed to take the distance education environmental science exam at a United Church in Goderich on Monday, but he didn’t show up because he believed that the church had been destroyed by the storm. In fact, it was another United Church in town that was damaged. The school will allow him to write the test in the fall instead.
Doctors blame exam anxiety, heart condition
Jairaj Chandran, 18, was 10 minutes into his high school theology exam in Cambridge, U.K. when he felt his chest getting tight and he started to having trouble breathing. He asked to step outside.
“My legs and fingers were numb. It was terrifying,” he told The Sun. Luckily, he knew about his existing heart condition and asked to be sent to the hospital. It was, as he suspected, a heart attack. Surgeons performed emergency surgery to replace a valve, leaving him with an eight-inch scar.
“The doctors said it was probably stress related and I was nervous because theology was one of my worst subjects,” said Chandran. The university used earlier marks to determine his A-grade in the class. He plans to study politics in Australia.
The art of slacking off during exams
A few weeks ago, when my anatomy and physiology exams were looming on the horizon, I wasn’t able to procrastinate properly. With several more chapters of my textbook to review, I felt too guilty to do anything fun. Like reading anything other than my textbooks, or playing a videogame, or going out with friends.
So instead, I would check my email ten times in a row. Or rearrange the icons on my desktop. Or delete old Word documents.
Now that final exams are over, my methods of procrastination have drastically changed. I can do whatever I want guilt-free. All of my old, ineffective methods of procrastination have been left behind.
I’m finally done all my exams. There are more than four months of summer vacation between me and next semester. It seems strange that all of a sudden, the material that used to seem so critically important- the stuff that I’ve been cramming into my head for the past 12 weeks- doesn’t matter anymore.
Since the first week of January, my day-to-day existence has revolved around my textbooks. And now, after weeks of procrastination, followed by a couple days of frantic “I-can’t-believe-I-fell-nine-chapters-behind-since-the-midterm” studying, it’s all over.
The day before my microbiology exam, with three more chapters to read and several weeks of lectures to memorize, I would have preferred trying to circumcise a T-Rex with a plastic spoon instead of writing that exam. The very next day, those three chapters are suddenly irrelevant and I’m selling my textbook on AbeBooks.
Sure, some of the courses I’m taking next semester will build on what I learned in anatomy and physiology. But words like “photophosphorylation” and “polymorphonuclear leukocyte” can be mentally purged forever, joining the ranks of all my other repressed memories.
Like that time in grade nine when I gave a girl a Valentine’s Day card, and then she ceased to acknowledge my existence.
The perfect cross between a final and a term project
Meaning, the kind of thing that’s left until the last second, on the same day your lab report and term paper are also due.
On one hand, anything is better than a final exam. On the other hand, you’re going to have to read a bunch of Wikipedia articles and then find some journal articles to cite in your references.
But there is a middle ground. Something that’s a perfect cross between a final exam and a term project.
Yup, I’m talking about a take home exam.
Unlike a term project, it doesn’t involve weeks of procrastination followed by a single night of stress-filled research. And unlike a final exam, you don’t have to mentally photocopy your textbook and then regurgitate everything within a two-hour time limit.
-Photo courtesy of Alex France