Finals week is upon us and preparing for a cumulative test or large research paper requires many study approaches and proper planning. UW Bothell students have finals the second week of June and Cascadia students will be tested in the third week. Here I will go over studying techniques and resources to further your endeavors.

Study techniques for final papers:

  1. Fully understand the prompt and determine the boundaries you are writing within. Broad prompts are often given at the collegiate level. This can be both a positive and negative. On the positive side, you can choose to write on a topic you have genuine interest in – making the essay less laborious and more convincing to the reader. A potential negative is falling into the trap of going over too many topics generally and coming to no deep conclusions.
  2. Once you decide on the direction which your essay is moving in, make an appointment with a reference librarian. They can help you with library resources, research strategies, focusing a topic, citing sources, and evaluating information.
  3. Once you have all of your research material, follow the typical approach of writing an outline, rough draft, then final draft. When finished with your final draft allow yourself 48-72 hours to have it read by a staff member at either the Cascadia or UW Bothell writing center and to make those last revisions.

Resources for final papers:

  1. Reference librarians:  You can communicate with these librarians by dropping in, making an appointment with a specific subject librarian, and by online chat.
    1. You can determine the librarian that specializes in your subject by referencing this list.
    2. You can chat with a librarian online using this service. University of Washington librarians are usually available on weekdays from 9-5 and librarians from around the nation are available to answer questions 24/7.
    3. Finally, you can drop in and visit a reference librarian at the Information Commons desk when the library is open.
  2. UWB Writing and Communication Center:  They offer many types of writing conferences, from face-to-face, phone-to-phone, or online. If submitting your paper online, they will typically be able to revise it in 48 hours.
  3. Cascadia’s Writing Center: You can make an appointment with a tutor at Cascadia’s Writing Center to go over your paper.
    1. If you want to submit your paper for revision online, you can use Cascadia’s e-tutoring service.  This usually takes 48 hours.

Study techniques for final exams:

Each person’s best approach when studying for finals varies greatly. That being said, two universally applicable pieces of advice are to have a plan and to cater your studying towards your learning style.

The learning styles are kinesthetic, visual, and auditory. A kinesthetic learner may benefit from studying in groups, using models, coming up with memory games, and learning through labs. A visual learner should take the approach of making diagrams and drawing pictures connected to vocabulary words. An auditory learner might chose to read out loud when studying, have group discussions about their subject, and record lectures to play back again.

First, break your workload down into manageable chunks and schedule your time realistically. You want to avoid mental fatigue while still remaining productive. Second, preview the syllabus and reading to determine which areas you need to focus in on. If you determine you don’t need to study a certain area, test yourself on it using provided practice problems or a peer to be sure. Third, make chapter outlines and note cards. From there studying becomes deeply subjective. Use whatever techniques have worked before to travel up Bloom’s taxonomy from knowledge to comprehension to application to analysis to synthesis to evaluation.

Resources for final exams:

  1. Research shows that we perform best when we study in an environment similar to that in which we will be taking the test. For you, this might mean the library. The library is open from 8:00-10:00 Monday-Thursday, 8:00-5:00 on Friday, 9:00-5:00 on Saturday, and 12:00-8:00 on Sunday. On Sunday June 7th , Monday June 8th , Sunday June 14th , and Monday June 15th the library will be open until 12:00 AM. But remember, avoid mental fatigue and plan ahead so you do not have to cram.
  2. Visit your professor’s office hours and attend review sessions they may put on. Also, never skip class to study. Professors tend to offer valuable insight into exams during their lectures.
  3. Search the library for books on your topic that contain extra practice problems and unique perspectives.
  4. UW Bothell’s Quantitative Skills Center is open Monday-Thursday 9:00 – 8:00, Friday 10:00 – 4:00, and Sunday 12:00- 4:00. The QSC offers drop-in tutoring for “classes that contain numbers.” More information is available here.
  5. Tutoring for the computer sciences is available Monday-Thursday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm at the CSS labs in UW Bothell.
  6. You can use Cascadia’s Math and Writing Center for help in those subjects. It is open 9:00-7:00 Monday-Thursday and Friday 10:00-2:00.
  7. Cascadia also uses an e-tutoring consortium that has online tutors in accounting, anatomy, biology, chemistry, economics, circuits and digital systems engineering, developmental math, Microsoft office, physics, Spanish, statistics, web development. E-tutors can be accessed here.
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