Exam Strategies (Facilitator's Guide)<br />This guide contains facilitator notes for the Exam Strategies for University Students Wimba slides. <br />Prior to your presentation, make sure that you have downloaded links available for:<br />Student Hand-out http://cl.ly/3g172S1g423k2V211634<br />Learning Commons: Study Toolkits http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/get-started/study-toolkits/ <br />Math exams. http://www.math.ubc.ca/Ugrad/pastExams/ <br />Physics exams. https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/11225 <br />Prep101 http://www.prep101.com/book.php?school=13 <br />Survey http://www.surveyfeedback.ca/surveys/wsb.dll/s/1gaec <br />Workshop Outline<br />Learning OutcomeActionPurposeTimePre-workshop Push the handout and other relevant materials (i.e. templates, links)Explain that the handout serves as a basis for taking notes during the presentation5 minIntroductionsIntroduce yourself and poll the students about their background.2 minOutcomesOutline the learning outcomes for the workshopProvide students with a clear idea of what to expect in the workshop2 minExam Anxiety: Self-AssessmentPoll students level of test anxietyHave students recognize that their feelings are common 3 minBloom’s TaxonomyIntroduce Bloom’s Taxonomy model for learning Provide students with an explanation for the increased challenge and complexity of university coursework 2 minExam Anxiety: Good or BadIntroduce research that illustrates how stress can contribute to optimal exam performanceShows students that some exam anxiety is beneficial 2 minStrategies to beat exam anxiety: In-Class Oxygenator/Poll Practice a strategy to overcome exam anxiety, consider personal strategies and share with the groupInvites students to reflect on their personal strategies to overcome exam stress and to learn new ideas from the instructor and their peers 6 minExam Prep: Steps and ResourcesName steps toward successful exam prepProvide information and resources toward successful exam prep 4 minTaking InventoryExplain that taking inventory is an important early step for exam prepHave students understand why taking inventory can contribute to successful exam prep 4 minWhat will your exam be like?Outline what students can and should find out about their examsFind out how much students already know about their exams and emphasize what they need to know 5 minStrategies to Succeed in Exam PrepList strategies to find out more about exams and resources to get further supportProvide students with a list of the best options for getting support with their exams4 minTypes of Exam QuestionsIntroduce strategies for tackling specific types of exam questions8 minMaking a plan: How do you Study Best?Offer questions and examples to reflect on optimal study environments and practices. Show a template for prioritizing study time/efforts.Encourages students to consider their best study environment and to prioritize their study time3 minWedging Technique: Getting StartedIntroduce a strategy and some steps for getting started with studyingShow that the wedging technique can help overcome procrastination and summarizes steps for studying 3 minTo Do ListHighlight the ‘to do’ checklist on the hand-out to help students get startedProvides an example of tasks to complete to promote exam success2 minPollAsk students to articulate strategies and learning that they will take away from the workshop.Allows students to reconsider what has been covered in the workshop and to prioritize what works for them3 min<br />Select the relevant content slides<br />It is recommended that you log in to the Learning Commons classroom at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the workshop. When you first log in to the classroom, you will need to select the appropriate slides from the Content dropdown menu. Once you have selected them, click on Go. <br />Workshop Series Title Slide<br />Use this slide to greet the students. Push the handout again as a download link in the text chat area if needed. If students are having technical troubles, please try to troubleshoot them early on (i.e. Have them exit and re-run Setup Wizard). <br />Facilitator Slide<br />Introduce yourself as the facilitator for the presentation. If you have some special insight or background, make sure to share it with the class.<br />About You Slide<br />Encourage students to share a little bit of their background with you. This helps to personalize the encounter and may help you see the breadth of experience in your classroom. This step should be completed prior to commencing archiving. <br />This is also a good time to explain that student names are not attached to the polls.<br />Title Slide (start of archive)<br />After you switch to the title slide, remind students that the presentation will be archived. <br />Click on the Archiving button (top right) and wait for the Archiving announcement to complete before speaking. You will also notice that there are now two new listings in the participants representing the archive and encoder. You can ignore these.<br />Introduce the workshop again for the benefit of the archive record. Remember that this will be the first slide seen/audio heard by later viewers. <br />Learning Outcomes<br />Briefly introduce the learning outcomes for the workshop. <br />Step 1 is Self-Assessment<br />Exams at university are often a major % of your grade. The 1st step toward exam success is helping you identify the key areas where you most need improvement.<br />Poll: Exam Anxiety<br />While participants are completing polls, it is a good idea to read the question aloud. This will serve to share the content of the hidden poll slides with people viewing the archive copies and to ensure that there is no period of awkward silence while students are undertaking the activity. <br />Try to verbally summarize the results (i.e. stressing the commonalities of participants, mention that skills will be introduced in the workshop to address issues…).<br />Bloom’s Taxonomy<br />It’s very common to feel overwhelmed by the amount of content to study in university vs. high school (In high school memorizing key facts, dates and theories would essentially guarantee you test success. In university - though you still need to rely on those key pieces - the focus is more toward thinking critically and building connections. (i.e. need to know the info but also evaluate it, interpret it and apply new to a new context…) <br />It can be hard to know where to begin and very common to begin too late. Many of us procrastinate and resort to cramming for our exams. This can result in a lot of anxiety and stress. <br />Tests got you Stressed<br />The first step in controlling anxiety is recognizing that test anxiety is common, normal, and can be controlled. Know that you’re not alone and that you’re taking steps right now to get started just by participating in this course . The first page of your hand-out includes a list of tips for avoiding exam anxiety including early preparation and planning, rest, regular routines and meals, etc. (i.e. Studies suggest that those with regular sleeping patterns perform 30% better. If regular exercise is a key part of your weekly routine, make sure you don’t drop it prior to exams. You may perform worse. I personally take comfort in this idea of keeping to your regular routines…since I am consistently a night owl who drinks coffee… I’m not in favour of advice that suggests you need to be in bed early and avoid caffeine to succeed. You know how you function at your optimum. Make sure you keep that consistent during exams as well.)<br />Exam Anxiety: Good or bad?<br />Generally, everyone experiences some level of tension, or anxiety, before tests. But did you know that a little nervousness is actually motivating? This concept is illustrated with research by Drs. Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson (see graph). Notice that peak performance, or efficiency, is also accompanied by some stress or anxiety. It is only when we let that stress take over completely that performance starts to drop. It’s important to adopt some strategies to help avoid this situation.<br />In-Class Oxygenator<br />This is a quick and easy strategy that you can use if you are feeling a build up of anxiety during a test or exam or even when you are just struggling to stay awake in a lecture. Sleepiness or anxiety could be due to a lack of oxygen and you can try this 30 second exercise to try to relive those feelings. <br />Straighten your spine. Put both feet on the floor and uncross your arms and legs. Sit up straight and hold head your head up straight.<br />Tense all muscles. Take a deep breath and while holding it, tense your muscles. Start with the muscles in your feet, then legs, thighs, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, jaw, forehead, arms, and hands. Hold tensed muscles for a count of five and then relax.<br />Breathe deeply 3 times. Inhale slowly and deeply, breathing into the belly as well as the chest. Pause momentarily at the top of your breath and then exhale completely. After exhaling as much as possible, forces out more air by contracting your stomach muscles. Do this three times.<br />Repeat step # 2. You have now activated all your muscles and filled your body with oxygen. Now return your full attention to the task at hand. With enough practice of this exercise you’ll be able to do it without your classmates and instructor even noticing.<br />Poll: Strategies to beat exam anxiety<br />Read the poll results aloud for the benefit of the archive and to debrief as a group.<br />Exam Preparation<br />You don’t need to look at it right now but the first page of your hand-out lists prep and planning as a key way to beat exam anxiety. You may not want to hear it at this point in the term, but of course exam prep is easiest when you:<br />attend all classes<br />take good notes <br />manage your time well <br />You may feel that all the course material has been covered already and the final week of class is only review. These last lectures can in fact be the most important for gaining valuable info re: your exam structure/content and the emphasis placed on the most important concepts. The final week is definitely not a great time to skip class!)<br />Good notetaking and time management are highlighted here to pass on some useful resources in case you feel these are areas you need help to improve for future terms. <br />UBC Learning Commons<br />The Learning Commons website has a wide variety of resources available to help. I’m sending a link to some of their study toolkits in the chat box http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/get-started/study-toolkits/ …<br />…and this slide is a screenshot of their toolkits page (notetaking, time management, etc.) I also highlighted the menu for study help where there are links to tutors. The get together menu lists study group info and tips for finding study spaces. It’s definitely worth exploring the resources on this site now or in the coming terms.<br />Taking Inventory<br />Step one for exam prep is TAKING INVENTORY. By now, you should have all the materials you will need to study for your exam (syllabus, lecture notes/slides, hand-outs, readings…). A pile on the corner of the desk works. Don’t worry if it’s perfectly arranged. This is a classic procrastination move Many of us get stuck wasting a lot of time at this stage. Instead, think about why you need to be taking inventory to guide how you go about it. <br />Poll: Why take inventory?<br />Read responses aloud and debrief with the group.<br />Reasons to Take Inventory.<br />It may seem obvious that you need to gather your study materials in order to get started but the key thing to think about here is why?<br />A cursory review your study materials early on is important b/c it is easy to get stuck on one small portion of material and run out of time to thoroughly review other important topics and wind up cramming. Having it all in front of you can give perspective and help you to break the material down into manageable chunks and to budget your study time wisely.<br />It is important that you do this ASAP so you can identify missing info or get the help you need for concepts you’re struggling with.<br />I’ve included a ‘to do’ checklist toward the end of your handout. This is one simple and important thing you could get done and checked off your list today!!<br />Do you know what your exam will look like?<br />So collecting the necessary materials you need for studying is obviously important… but to do your best studying you also need to be anticipating what the exam itself will be like. Think of the upcoming exam you are most concerned about this term and complete the next poll to see what else you should find out to achieve the outcome you want.<br />Poll: Most challenging exam?<br />Poll: Do you know if your exam…?<br />Think of that exam you are most concerned about and ask yourself if you can answer all 5 of these questions?<br />If you don’t yet have this information about your exams, wouldn’t you like to?<br />Note: You can’t ask exactly what will be asked on the exam, but it is perfectly appropriate to ask your professors/TAs these questions.<br />Consider getting answers to these questions within the next week and check off another item of your ‘to do’ list <br />Strategies to achieve the outcome you want<br />Find out if there are old exams available for you to review. <br />(It is important to try to get a hold of old exams and review the types of questions and concepts that are included to get an idea of what the exam might look like. Check your course website, ask your prof or TA, the AMS tutoring office, your classmates or your faculty clubs. Your handout lists options for finding old math, physics and science exams…<br />(eg. Math exams. http://www.math.ubc.ca/Ugrad/pastExams/ <br />Physics exams. https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/11225 <br />For some Chemistry or Biology exams, the Science club often sells practice exams for a good price ~$10).<br />You could also try Prep101 http://www.prep101.com/book.php?school=13 but this is not directly affiliated with the university so check for instructor names and dates to be sure these are a good reflection of current UBC courses.)<br />Get advice from someone who has taken the course before. (Undergrad faculty clubs are also good for recommendations for course selection too!).<br />Consider making a list of questions/topics you are struggling with and then…<br />Attend any review sessions offered.<br />Make an appt. with your TA/prof. before the end of classes. <br />This should ideally be happening all term, but you can find out important information now too!! You may worry about looking unprepared by asking questions this late in the term, but the best guidance you’ll get is to go to the source! It’s never too late to ask. Just explain that you need some clarification about some course content and go prepared with some specific questions. Chances are good you will gain some important information and feel more invested in your course if you take the time to meet with an instructor.<br />Check out the Learning Commons website for tutoring, study group options.<br />Types of Exam Questions<br />We talked about the Bloom’s taxonomy and the different types of questions you may encounter, ranging from easy memorization (recognition level of Bloom’s taxonomy) to hard (creation in Bloom’s taxonomy). <br />It is important to consider the types of questions that will be included on the exam (ask your professor!) so you can practice answering them.<br />Now we want to consider each of these question types specifically and gather some tips for how best to tackle them. For the next 5 minutes or so I’d like you refer to pages 2-6 on your student handout. <br />Review each type of exam question and identify the best tip listed for approaching this question type. You’ll be asked to share it on a poll screen.<br />1 of 4 polls on tips for exam questions (i.e. multiple choice, true-false, short answer, essay)<br />Publish and debrief selected tips for each question type.<br />1) Multiple Choice Questions<br />Read through the entire question first before circling your answer. Multiple choice questions consist of a “stem” which is the introductory questions or incomplete statement at the beginning of each item. The “stem” is then followed by the option. Options consist of the correct option and “distractors” which are the incorrect options.<br />Tips … <br />Try to answer the question before looking at the given answers (your first instinct is usually right!)<br />Pay attention to absolutes in the answer – “never” or “all”, these are usually distractors which can deter you away from the correct option<br />Options that contain unfamiliar terms are usually distracters<br />Underline KEY words, cross out wrong answers.<br />Look for answers in other test questions.<br />When In Trouble … Guess. Never leave a question unanswered, unless there is a penalty for incorrect answers<br />If 2 answers are similar, have similar words, or have opposite meanings then choose one of them<br />When in doubt – choose the longest answer <br />2a) True – False Questions<br />These questions can range in difficulty and although they appear easy to many students, professors are known to slip in tricks. For example, instead of simply circling the right answer you might have to rewrite the statement in the correct format to receive full marks. <br />Tips … <br />There are generally more true questions than false questions<br />Look for qualifiers (all, most, sometimes, rarely) because more often questions containing qualifiers are “TRUE”<br />Answers with always or never in the statement are usually false <br />Tentative words leave room for exceptions and tend to be true, such as seldom, sometimes, often, most, generally)<br />If ANY part of the statement is FALSE, then the whole thing is FALSE <br />2b) Short Answer Questions <br />These questions tend to be a little higher up on Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking and require you to actually verbalize in writing your answer to a question. When writing these types of answers ensure that you restate the key words included in the question into your answer and give direct, concise answers. <br />Tips …<br />Look for grammatical hints (ie. a sentence beginning with “an” indicates that the word belonging starts with a vowel<br />Use the BEST word or phrase you can think of <br />Pay attention to the allocation of marks per question. This will give you hints on how long or short your answer needs to be <br />3) Essay Questions <br />Tips …<br />If you run out of time, plan the rest of your response in point form<br />Read the entire exam first and estimate the time allotted per question based on the point allocation per question<br />Keep the person who will be marking your paper happy – make your essay easy to read (use pen, double space and write legibly on one side of the paper) <br />Answer the easiest question first, this builds your confidence!<br />Read the directions carefully and do exactly what the questions ask<br />create a mini-outline including all the main points to be covered so that if you run out of time your work is still shown<br />Get right to the point – don’t be fooled, a longer answer doesn’t necessarily mean more points<br />If there is more than 1 essay question brainstorm each one first before writing<br />Pay attention to the TYPE of question (ie. compare, discuss, contrast, prove, describe etc)<br />Making a Study Plan<br />Once you have taking your exam inventory and gathered all the materials you will need, the next step is to create a study plan. You may have as many as 6 courses to study for during one exam period. In order to maximize your studying for each course, it is important to make a study plan that is personalized and prioritizes your individual needs, strengths and agenda. Do what suits you best as an individual! <br />How do you study best?<br />Page 7 of your handout asks some questions about your study environment. <br />Study Location: Ask yourself and answer the following questions about your study environment… <br />
Where do you study?
What is the environment like?
What are some potential distractors that might take your focus away from studying?
How can you eliminate those distractors?
The example given is a good reminder wherever you are there are often distractors that do actually take away a lot of time/focus.<br />Example<br />It is chilly most of the time, which helps keep me awake but I always pack a sweater and toque. Woodward seems quieter and less busy than other places on campus and the newly renovated Garden level is now open. I also sometimes study in the bottom of Koerner, but it can be hard to find a spot. I’ve just heard the Irving K. Barber Centre has 24/7 study hours during exams too!! I plan to check out http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/get-together/find-a-space/ for more possibilities.<br />I find it tough when I want to grab a coffee or a snack and I don’t want to lose my study spot. Sometimes I get distracted and don’t make it back afterward. <br /> I need to start packing a thermos/water bottle and some granola bars, etc. so I don’t end my study sessions earlier than planned. I also find I need to turn off my phone and email notifier so I’m not constantly checking these. <br />Study Prioritization<br />On p.8 of the handout, there is a chart for prioritizing your study plan.<br />Think back to that exam you’re most concerned about and list it at the top of your chart. You can fill in the rest on your own time if this is a useful exercise for you.<br />I think that recognizing the % needed to achieve goals and setting realistic expectations can be an important step. Your goal may be just to pass the course… but outlining what it’s going to take to get you there is important. The other key piece is getting an accurate estimate for how much time you need to realize your goals (accounting for all the breaks, meals and rest you’ll need to stay ahead).<br />Wedging Technique: Get Started in 5 minutes<br />The wedging technique is a strategy that involves breaking down a task into small, manageable pieces to help you stay motivated and to avoid procrastination. Sometimes the idea of committing to 5 minutes of work is enough to get you started and you may find that after committing to those 5 minutes it’s easier to take on more. Try thinking about 5 minutes of study work/summarization/notes that you can get done every time you get started (i.e. including after taking a study break). It may just be the tool you need to get going and to stay motivated.<br />What do I want the outcome of my exams to be? (i.e. could be a pass)<br />What do you need to do to achieve that outcome? <br />To Do List<br />We’ve offered some strategies and info to help you work toward that result. (i.e. Tackle that ‘To Do’ list on your handout. Plan to get at least one thing done today!)<br />What strategies will you use to achieve your desired outcome(s)?<br />2 Feedback/Learning Outcome Polls<br />Read responses out loud for the archive and to affirm learning.<br />Ask participants to complete the short 2-3 min. survey. http://www.surveyfeedback.ca/surveys/wsb.dll/s/1gaec <br />Encourage feedback? Questions? <br />Provide contact information (if desired) to invite questions later.<br />