Dr. Bernice Strauss, director of academic support programs at the Sam Houston State University Mentoring Center, spoke with the Houstonian about ways to study for finals.
Strauss wanted to make it perfectly clear that there is no secret to studying and passing finals.
“I will give you some tips, but there is an expectation that there is a secret and that I am going to tell you something that will help students that have procrastinated all semester to pull out an A or B,” Strauss said. “No secret like that exists.”
One thing that Strauss recommends is using resources. To do this, students need to talk to their professors, but not just at the end of the semester, the whole time. Strauss said professors appreciate student contact out of the office, and that it shows that they care.
When talking to their professors, students should ask for resources that might help them do better in class. Strauss said professors are here for students and that they want them to succeed.
Another resource students can use is a friend to quiz them on their material.
When it comes to actually studying students need to find a quiet place, with no outside distractions. These distractions include other people who are not studying, iPods and the television. Although Strauss recommends no music while studying she realizes that it works better for some students.
Even though a student’s bedroom may seem like a quite place they should not study in their bed because that sets the student up for falling asleep, according to Strauss.
When reading large texts students should read a whole chapter before taking a break, although this does vary for different people. The break should be no longer than 15 minutes. According to Strauss to really comprehend what students are reading they should have note cards out and take notes on them. This way when the student wants to study again they will not have to read the whole chapter again.
“It makes studying more active,” Strauss said. “A lot of students highlight and they end up with the whole thing highlighted.”
Trying to decide what to put on the note cards can be figured out by asking two questions, according to Strauss. These questions are: Is this information important, if so what does it mean?
According to Strauss if students can explain what the information means in their own words they can better understand it.
Strauss does not recommend energy drinks, or all nighters. Energy drinks will only facilitate bad habits. According to Strauss all nighters do not allow students to sufficiently study.
“This is not a time for all-nighters that your ability to recall and function effectively will depend on good night sleep and good breakfast,” Strauss said.
Students get tired of studying, but Strauss said to keep going.
“You’re going to get tired of studying no matter what,” Strauss said. “Think about a long term goal to stay motivated and use a support group. Breaks could be motivation and so could what you are doing after finals.”
Strauss also wanted to let students know that now is not the time to say I wish I had or I should have. This is the time to finish strong.
“After grades come out there is a wealth of information to help you do better next year, and that is the time to say what I could have done differently,” Strauss said.
Strauss will be holding a Study Skills series during Summer I and II. The study skills program is six, one hour sessions that address core essentials for academic success. According to the academic support programs website the sessions address, “procrastination, time management, taking class notes, test-taking strategies,” and more.
“Success is not about how smart you are it is about about the skills you have to do the work,” Strauss said.
Students can find more information about the Study Skills series at http://www.shsu.edu/~sam_www/mentoring/study_skills.html, or by calling 936-294-4444.