All Posts Tagged With: "final 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.
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.
Students can be admitted without provincial exams
The University of Saskatchewan is hoping to attract more students from Alberta, British Columbia and the territories by “levelling the playing field,” reports the StarPhoenix.
The university will now waive provincial and territorial final exam marks and will base admissions and scholarships decisions entirely on the grades teachers assign throughout grade 12—should those marks be higher.
For Albertan students, diploma exams count for 50 per cent of students’ final grades. Clearly, if they can choose whether to include the test or not, it means some students will be considered by Saskatchewan who might not have been in the past.
The reason for the change is equity, Dan Seneker, undergrad recruitment manager for the U of S told the newspaper. He argued that admissions standards haven’t changed. “We’re not dropping our average, we’re not dropping our scholarship averages or anything like that, we’re not increasing space in programs. We’re keeping everything status quo, we’re just admitting students on a more equitable basis,” he says. A message on the U of S website echoes that sentiment. It reads: “we don’t want to penalize you if you have a bad test day.”
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’ve always found labs to be ten times more stressful than midterms, term projects, and even final exams. Unlike studying for a test- which, for many science courses, just means having to mentally photocopy the assigned readings from the textbook- labs are a test of your personality.
Labs are sort of like the science fair project you did with your best friend in grade five. Except they happen every single week, you usually don’t know the people you’re working with, there are TAs watching you every step of the way, and instead of making a paper mache volcano, you’re messing around with organic acids.
Yeah, just like a science fair.
…is the one you (almost) fail.
At the beginning of the semester, I was actually looking forward to my Embryology course. Not enough to actually want summer vacation to come to an end, but on the spectrum of courses, biology has always been my favourite. I assumed it would be the same this semester.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It’s kind of like audiences who went to see Star Wars Episode One expecting a worthy prequel to one of the most beloved movie franchises of all time. Everybody probably assumed that even if the new movie was half as good as the original trilogy, it would still be great.
No one saw Jar Jar Binks coming.
It’s the exact same thing with my Embryology course. Based on the fact that I’ve enjoyed my genetics and cell biology courses over the past two years, I figured it would be my favourite course this semester. Until I opened the textbook for the first time.
For some reason, biologists collectively decided that when a new protein or gene is discovered it should be named something that’s impossible to remember on a final exam. Like PAX3, DAX1, WNT, GGF, and SOX9. And never mind remembering the difference between FGF9, FGF2, FGF10, FGF8, FGF1, FGFR1 and FGFR2.
On the other hand, there’s the one scientist who, in an act of rebellion, actually named a protein Sonic hedgehog. Seriously.
When I was studying for the exam last week, I finally decided it might be easier to keep track of the full names, instead of just the acronyms.
Until I found out that SOX stands for SRY-related HMG box.
How to let off steam during exams
Scott is feeling bogged down right now. Send food.
Scott will never take another chemistry class again. Ever. Until he has to.
Scott ate too many macadamias and will hurl if anyone so much as whispers “want some nuts?”
Scott thinks that people who speak of themselves in the third person to be a special kind of ass.
-photo courtesy of jmilles