Hey guys! In last week’s post, I had vowed that I would go to the Academic Success Centre (ASC) during the drop-in hours to meet with a learning strategist to help me prepare for my upcoming midterms. A learning strategist is a trained professional who provides individualized academic support; they help you understand your learning style and guide you towards the appropriate strategies to maximize your learning efficiency. During the ASC drop-in hours, you can meet with a learning strategist for up to 30 minutes.
The ASC is located in the Koffler Student Services Centre building at 214 College St. Drop-in hours for this Fall semester are:
- Tuesdays: 10a.m. – 12p.m
- Fridays: 1:30p.m. – 3:30p.m.
Here is an account of my first-time experience with meeting a learning strategist:
Last Friday, I went to the Academic Success Center around 2:30pm.
The ASC was relatively easy to find. When I walked in, there was a binder on the front-desk dedicated for students dropping in. I wrote down my name and my reason for visit (exam prep help). Then, I sat down at one of the many tables and waited to be called.
After about 10 minutes, a learning strategist called my name and led me to his cubicle. Since I had stated that I wanted help with exam-prep, he gave me several printed handouts about exam-prep strategies. These handouts are available on the ASC website.
At first, the learning strategist went over these handouts and taught me the general concepts of efficient exam preparation. He broke down exam-preparation into 4 easy steps:
This key step takes about 4-5 hours. Identify and list the major concepts/topics covered on the exam. Then, make a list of all the course material you are expected to know (lecture content, readings, labs, etc). Finally, evaluate how much of the content you already know, need to review, and how much you need to learn. Using that information, allocate your study-time accordingly – For example, allocate more time for learning concepts because learning something new takes longer than reviewing.
Once diagnosis is complete, identify if there are any concepts you need assistance with or gaps in your study material. Ask your friends, TAs, or professors for help. You can seek help through a variety of methods, including: emails, online discussion boards (Blackboard, Piazza, Facebook Groups, etc), or professor or TA office hours.
Once you have reviewed the key concepts and questions you have about the material, start consolidating your learning which may involve memorizing for the exam. Some courses are more memory based than others. Some methods to help you learn content effectively include: creating flash cards, making summary sheets, writing things down, drawing pictures or charts, creating concept maps, creating acronyms or mnemonics, discussing material with friends, and reading notes out loud.
Do past tests for that course, do the assigned homework or problem sets, anticipate and create your own test questions, and find other ways to practically test your knowledge of course concepts (this is course specific). It can help if you mimic the exam environment when you are testing yourself to get practice managing anxiety and relying on your memory.
Then, after teaching me the general exam preparation strategies, the learning strategist gave me individualized advice. He asked about my courses (course types, difficulty levels, and how confident I felt in each course) and their and midterm dates. Then, he gave me a blank weekly schedule. Together, we planned and scheduled how I should distribute my time for the different courses to effectively prepare for my midterms. Each course’s prep-time was broken down into the four steps above.
This week, I used that same schedule that I created with the learning strategist to help me prepare for all 3 of my midterms! Overall, I found this experience extremely helpful. What I found most helpful about my time with the learning strategist was the individual support I received. Knowing the general exam-prep tips were helpful, but applying them to my schedule truly motivated me to study efficiently. I definitely recommend meeting with a learning strategist! If this post inspired you to meet with a learning strategist, comment below and tell me how it goes!
Good luck with your midterms!