By: Jennifer Wallace
Seminars are underway to help students prepare for exams so they can be successful in their studies.
“These exam prep seminars have been running in different formats since 1967 when the college first opened. We changed them in the decades gone by, but the essential material has been around a long time,” said Mary-Ann Hansen, a counsellor at Algonquin.
The exam seminars run throughout the year and the ones this past February were on Wednesday Feb. 13 and Monday Feb. 25.
“I’ve had lots of feedback from students and it’s very positive. I did a seminar recently and students said they had ideas of things they could do differently,” Hansen said.
Students such as Farah Alzobaidi, in first year of mechanical engineering technology, learned about various ways to help her prepare for exams.
“I’m getting some really nice information, which I don’t think I could get somewhere else,” said Alzobaidi.
One tip she got from the seminar was the Yerkes-Dodson Law: simple tasks are performed best with high amounts of arousal level, and difficult tasks are performed best with low arousal levels.
“The seminar I went to before this one, I got some really good tips on how to manage my time and study, so it has helped me a lot,” Alzobaidi said. That seminar took place last November.
Hansen said the biggest barrier students have with preparing for exams is struggling with time management and that they’re overwhelmed and don’t know how they’ll find the time to get things done.
The seminars showed students that a big part of success is using the study skills they already have; brains work like a filing cabinet and organization comes from categories and sub-categories.
Students are taught that they should study their weakest subjects first, because the brain is most alert at the beginning of the study session.
Students also learn about understanding versus memorizing, and studying in short bursts.
Test anxiety can be problematic for students. Students can suffer from anxiety and experience sweating, nausea, dizziness, headaches and fatigue. People might assume anxiety is out of the students control, but the seminar shows it’s a lot about how thoughts affect everything.
Students who took the seminars are also encouraged to limit their caffeine intake, as this can increase your feelings of anxiety.
Creating a game plan is also a suggested idea, to help them feel prepared for the day of their exam.
Hansen said even if the exam seminar wasn’t for them, it can be beneficial, as they learn of other counselling services available and can then be referred to a counsellor if needed.