Dec 072006
Authors: Kaitlin Snook

With finals looming, it’s hard to find students who don’t understand the importance of studying for their last big tests and the significance of the effect finals, and in fact all tests, have on their grades. However, with so much material covered in a semester and individuals’ learning styles being so different, is basing so much of a grade on only tests really justified?

The transition from high school to college can be difficult in a lot of ways, but in my opinion, the biggest and most difficult transitions are getting used to class and grading styles.

In high school, you are given homework on a daily basis that not only is worth points, but is actually beneficial when it comes to learning the material. In college, you are given a syllabus and that’s about it. You can choose whether you come to class or not, and when you do, you are responsible for your own notes. Some teachers don’t even write notes on the board but just talk and expect you to take important points down. And in the worst-case scenario, you get stuck with a teacher who, although knowledgeable on the subject, either may not know how to teach it or may talk so fast that nobody even has the time to process the information.

So, how do we do it? How do you successfully make the transition from high school to college with few obstacles in between? My answer: I didn’t. I didn’t do very well first semester mainly because of the weight on my grades that tests caused. Like many, I am not the best test-taker and I had always relied on the other points from homework and projects to make up for my lack of skills, but in most college courses, there are no other activities to give you points.

Some people are just good test-takers, while others, like myself, are lacking in that area. For instance, my roommate is actually very smart but just has a hard time with tests. We will study, and she’ll know the information, but when she gets to the test, she freaks. And, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my brother can merely attend class, not study at all, and do great. He’s relaxed about tests and doesn’t stress at all, because why should he? He’s always done fine.

So, if you are a bad test-taker, or if you’re a freshman and you feel like you’re being thrown into this world where nothing matters but test scores, what do you do? Obviously teachers aren’t going to stop giving tests, because how else will they measure what we’ve learned?

Learning how to study the right way can be difficult, but there are resources out there to help you. You can go online or you can even sign up at CSU for seminars related to reading and study habits. For those of you stressed about finals, and know it’s too late for a tutor or class, here are a few suggestions from The Tutorial and Academic Schools Center:

? Re-read your material at least three times: once in class, once soon after and at least once when studying.

? Don’t just read over things, actually try to make sense of them and give examples.

? Study in a quiet place similar to the place in which you will take the test.

? Try to stay calm when taking a test. Remember, it’s not life or death.

Good luck on finals and if you want more tips go to

Kaitlin Snook is a junior technical journalism major. Her column appears every Friday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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