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Victoria College tutoring center offers study tips for an A+ Christmas

By KBell
Dec. 10, 2011 at 6:10 a.m.
Updated Dec. 11, 2011 at 6:11 a.m.


GET MORE TIPS

The VC Tutoring Center offers help on everything from English, writing and reading to math, physics and science.

VC offers a Tackling Exams Through Simple Techniques - or TEST - seminar each semester to help students learn study techniques. Contact the tutoring center at 361-572-6473 to learn more.

A force more powerful than the Grinch, more dastardly than Scrooge, each year threatens to stand in the way of a holly jolly Christmas for students: final exams.

No doubt, Christmastime is even more stressful for the students who have procrastinated their studying as long as they've procrastinated buying their sibling's gift.

"Unfortunately, if you haven't studied throughout the semester, I'm not really sure a last ditch effort is going to save you," Margaret Bell put it bluntly.

But for students of all caliber searching for some reprieve from finals frets this year, Bell, an associate professor of biology at Victoria College, offered some tips.

She, along with members of VC's tutoring center and its international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, reflected on techniques that have helped them approach final exams with holiday cheer.

Consider it their gift to students this finals season.

1. Explain the material to a child.

Ventura Gobellan, PTK's secretary of public relations, said he goes over important chapters in his textbooks, then tries to see if he understands the material well enough to explain it to his 8-year-old son. Tell anyone, tell a video camera, Gobellan said. Just make sure you grasp the material well enough to explain in your own words.

2. Read questions carefully, circling keywords.

Explain, define, give an example, list - how many? Circle these keywords on short answer or essay questions, so you know how to frame your response. If a teacher provides possible essay questions before an exam, write the essays and have a tutor or teacher look over them.

3. Stay on campus.

For college students, resist the urge to head home during a break between classes. Instead, find one of the many hidden nooks on campus to curl up and study in. Get involved with school activities, and know the resources - like the tutoring center - available to students.

4. Study at Skillets.

Grab a corner booth, a boat of fries, and set up shop in a late-night diner. Bell said the light foot traffic and repetitive, non-distracting activity will provide the perfect backdrop for study time. "You get all that white noise, not too much distraction, but just enough to where you won't get fatigued," she said.

5. Avoid surprises.

Half the battle is finding out what to study. Write down what was on midterm exams, quizzes and end-of-chapter reviews. If you see a topic more than once, it's important. If your teacher mentions it, too, bet it will be on the final exam, said Brandy Garrett, president of PTK.

6. Be resourceful.

Study with classmates who are performing well, and ask former students how a teacher tests, but don't expect them to spill the questions. "Tutors have been in the trenches. By the end of class (they've) sized up the instructor," VC tutoring coordinator Betty East said.

7. Take good notes.

The key is to not only take down what a teacher says, but to review it later. Leave sticky notes where you have holes or questions you need answered. Rewrite them in an outline style. Paste in pictures or draw your own for things like biology or anatomy.

8. Study how to study.

Some students rewrite notes and repeat key terms out loud. Others make note cards. Some swear by highlighters, and others curse them. Know which techniques work best for you. "You have to learn to study. You have to look online, ask somebody," said Toni Marek, PTK's vice president of scholarship. "It's not a stupid question - "How do you study?"

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