Monthly Archives: March 2009

Facing the Final: Tips for Exam Success

If you’re at all nervous about upcoming exams, here are a few tips from a variety of experts that may help you get ready to face the final! Up until finals week, I’ll post a tip every day.

Tip #1: Get Ready

While this may sound obvious, good preparation is your main ally when heading into exam season. You want to make sure you know what is coming your way.

Most important, obviously, is the content you’ll need to know. Sometimes instructors are fairly vague, saying “Questions will be based on everything you have learned in the course”. That can be a bit exhausting, but go back to your course outline – it’ll show you what topics the instructor considers to have been learned in the course. Unless advised otherwise, be sure to study these topics using material from your own notes, from the textbook, and from the instructor’s notes (if they have given out powerpoint notes, etc) to make sure you get all the details you need.

Other instructors prefer to give more detail regarding exactly what topics are going to be covered on the exam, sometimes even giving the questions you can expect word-for-word. In those cases, you don’t want to learn all the extraneous course material even if you feel a bit panicky about skipping large sections of it. You want to focus on getting the questions you ARE asked done right – so spend pretty much all your time studying those.

As tempting as it is to skip class in the last week or two to get studying/paper-writing done instead, try to go to all your classes! Instructors often give out some pretty important exam information. Even if they’ve already done so, a lot of the time students keep pestering them for more details, and in many cases theygive some pretty strong clues or hints as answers, which can make showing up in class more than worth it when the exam rolls around.

It’s good to be prepared in terms of format too. You’ll usually know the format of the exam ahead of time – long answer, essay question, multiple choice? Be prepared for what’s coming in terms of format as well as content. Examples: if you know the exam is going to be an essay, make sure you brush up on how to write a strong thesis statement. If you know the exam is going to be multiple choice, remember to learn specific concepts and vocabulary very definitely so that you don’t get confused by trick questions which throw in familiar-sounding words.

Think about how much time you have for the exam and how much time you might really take. Some exams really are in-and-out deals. However, if you know that it’s going to take you the full two or three hours allotted based on your exam-writing style or the instructor’s exam format, psych yourself up for that. Build up your endurance so you don’t get exhausted halfway through and just give up – know that you have to be ready to concentrate and do your best work for a long time span.

Finally, think about the other exams you’ve written for this course already. Even if it’s the first exam you’ve written in the course, you will generally have a sense of what type of instructor you’ve got. Are they going to be mean and ask the nastiest questions ever, or are they likely to re-use wording right from the textbook or stick only to the course notes? Do they have a tendency to be vague and confusing? Do they mark generously or are they pretty tough? Do they like to include trick questions? Can you count on any giveaway marks? Will they expect complete sentences or is point form OK? There’s really nothing you can do about the instructor’s style of writing up or marking an exam, but knowing what to expect can help you approach it with the best strategy in mind and keep you from panicking on test day.

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Book Launch for “Suburban Legends” by Author/RDC English Instructor Joan Crate

RDC instructors are up to a lot of good things besides teaching here.

Joan Crate is a perfect example. She teaches English at RDC, but she is also the author of four books. Tonight (March 26, 7:30 p.m., RDC Library “North Nook”) is the launch of her fourth book, a collection of poetry called Suburban Legends.

Visit here for more information on Joan Crate and her works, and for details regarding tonight’s book launch.

Congratulations Joan!

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How To Find the Extra Energy You Really Need

At this time of year, pretty huge demands are made of college students. You’re kept more than busy with the end-of-semester workload your instructors give you – exams, papers, final projects all due within weeks of each other, not to mention keeping up with regular readings for class (sometimes more than you’re used to as instructors race to finish the textbook before classes end).

If you’re a continuing student planning to return to school in the fall, you’re also forced to think and plan for next year’s classes – worrying about registration and getting into the classes you need and want. You’re also beginning to feel the pressure of finding a summer job that will pay decently and hopefully look good on the resume. 

If you’re graduating, you’re trying to fit in all the grad parties and events that are scheduled while wondering about your future career or next step in life.

It can get to be a wee bit much. You know the next few weeks are going to be intense, and chances are, you’re going to be pushing yourself pretty hard to get everything done. The pressure is on.

Instead of spending the last of your student loan on a year’s supply of energy drinks that you plan to consume in the next month, here are a couple of easy things you can try instead – none of which take much money, time, or planning.

1. Cat Nap
It’s tempting to put down a textbook and fall asleep for six or seven hours in the late afternoon, but the best naps are short (between 10 and 30 minutes). They won’t leave you feeling groggy, and they won’t mess up your sleep cycle at night (assuming you still have one). They’re just enough to give your body time to re-energize.

2. Hang Out
Being around people can really up the collective energy level. It might not be possible or wise to go out with friends every night at this time of year, but taking a little break now and then from studying and writing papers to interact with other human beings can help push up energy levels and restore perspective when needed.

3. Tunes!
Whenever you can, listen to music – whatever kind of music you like. Music raises energy and reduces tension at the same time.

4. Follow your energy cycle
Take a few minutes to think about when you have the most energy during the day. It may be that 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. is actually NOT that time. If you tend to have more energy and focus in the morning, try to get a lot of work done in the morning. If you really are a night owl, go with it. Just try to figure out when your energy levels are highest, and plan to do as much as you can during those times.

5. Quit being a couch potato
Studying, writing papers, and going to class involves a lot of sitting in one place for a lot of time, which is a huge energy drain. Moving around and getting exercise is one of the most effective ways to boost your energy levels. If you don’t have a ton of time to devote to exercise, just try to get bits and pieces of it into the day. Taking a ten or fifteen minute walk a couple of times a day can be very effective. You might not feel more energy instantly afterwards, but be patient. See how your energy levels will stay higher over time.

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5th Annual Student Perspectives Conference

It’s that time of year again . . . RDC students presenting their work during the Student Perspectives Conference. This year, there are 50 student presenters. Sessions include research in psychology involving the brain, romantic relationships, birth order, bullying, pscyhological disorders, and treatment programs; research in philosophy involving computer-consciousness, realism, and the definition of science; research in history including British political fring parties, early Canadian and native history; research in sociology involving gender stereotypes and the media, religious subjugation, and applied learning experiences; and English presentations on science-fiction, poetry, Shakespeare, and original creative writing projects as well as many more.

Visit for complete schedule and details.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free conference sessions! It’s a great opportunity for presenters to share their best work, and for audience members to experience the diversity of research and work that goes on in the Bachelor of Arts program at RDC.

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Hear Michael Geist speak on Copyright Law at RDC!

On Wednesday, March 11 Dr. Michael Geist, an expert in Internet and Copyright Law, will be speaking on the topic: “Why copyright? The Fight for Canada’s Digital Future”.

If you’ve ever uploaded or downloaded anything online . . . this topic will apply to you! He’ll be discussing proposed legislation by the government which could result in very stiff fines for making backup copies of DVDs you own, transferring music from a protected CD to an IPod, unlocking a cell to switch providers, recording a TV show and then watching the recording more than once, and uploading copyrighter materials to share sites like YouTube, etc.

You can hear what he has to say about this by purchasing tickets to his lecture on March 11 at the RDC Arts Centre Mainstage, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available from and are $25 for RDC staff/students, and $35 for the public.

If you are an RDC student, you can also attend a FREE student session he will be holding in the Margaret Parsons Theatre on March 11 from 3 – 4 p.m.

Come and see what an expert has to say about the rights/freedoms/responsibilities we all have in a digitized age.

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