Tag Archives | exams

Image by Ohfoohy, Flickr

Image by Ohfoohy, Flickr

With the volume and speed at which information is given to you during university, you can often times feel completely lost. No matter how many times you look over your textbook or your notes, a concept just doesn’t seem to stick. Instead of ignoring it and hoping that it doesn’t appear on your exam, it’s time for you to ask for help. There are plenty of people and resources out there that can help. When you want to ace that course, think about starting here:

Online Resources

If you can’t follow what your prof is saying during the lecture, being taught the material from a different angle may be just what you need to succeed. With the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward videos and podcasts, those who like learning things slowly have the opportunity to really let the information sink in. Try these:

Professors and TAs

They’re the ones who teach the course and give out the assignments and exams, so it only makes sense to contact them for help. This does not mean bombarding them the night before an assignment is due to answer all of your questions; it means attending office hours and going to every tutorial. You don’t want your prof to think of you as “the procrastinator” and they definitely won’t appreciate staying up late to answer questions you should have asked several days ago.

Students Who Have Taken the Course

Getting help from a student who has taken the course with the same prof may be the best place to get help. Sometimes, they can even be more helpful than a prof or a TA. A student who has been through the experience will know tips and tricks to understand course content and how to do well in the exam. There might be certain things these students picked up on that the professor liked seeing in assignments and essays. Definitely ask these people for help! If you feel like you’re really struggling, consider paying for a student tutor who will assist you throughout the term.

If your school has a Students Offering Support (SOS) chapter, take full advantage. SOS offers Exam-AID sessions run by students, for students. For a small donation of $20, you are given access to an Exam-AID session usually taught by a student who has taken the course. Sessions cover the entire course and come with notes made by the student instructor. This great organization puts all proceeds from Exam-AID sessions toward development programs in Latin America. Whether you attend their Exam-AID sessions as a way to cram or as a refresher, you can rest assured your money is going to a great cause.

Students Currently Taking the Course

They may not have the expertise and knowledge that professors or previous students have, but they may be struggling in class just like you. You’re all in the same boat, so help each other out! Consider starting a study group and meet once a week to discuss questions, readings, assignments, etc. It’s also a great way to make some friends in class.

New-ap-photo-me-yes

According to the AP Canada website, the Advanced Placement (AP) program is a rigorous academic program which “provides opportunities for motivated and prepared students to experience college-level courses while in high school, thereby fostering critical thinking and college persistence and success.” Created by the College Board in the United States, the AP program was designed by university-level educators and experts with the intention of administering university-level curriculum and exams to high school students. Since its debut in the United States, the AP program has also been introduced to select Canadian schools over the course of the past decade.

How do I choose which APs to take?
Choose your APs based on how you would choose your regular courses. Examine your personal academic interests and strengths, or experiment with a subject you might consider pursuing in university.

Will taking an AP exam qualify for university course credit?
Be careful. Not all universities recognize AP exams for course credit. Individual university websites will often specify which AP subjects they accept (spoiler: not all of them) and may stipulate that you achieve a certain score in order to be eligible to receive course credit. However, if you fulfill the given requirements and qualify for course credit, you will save both time and money later on!

Are AP exams like university exams?
The AP exam period resembles the university exam period in its capacity to evoke a brief yet intense state of stress which is tempered only by frequent snacks and the sudden camaraderie that develops between you and your peers in the throes of your collective suffering. They are also like university exams – and most exams, perhaps – in the sense that they require hard work, but can yield rewarding results upon completion.

Be prepared for an adjustment that might be difficult, rewarding, or both.
The AP program is designed to prepare you for AP exams, which often means incorporating new exercises into your usual academic routine. For example, my AP French exam involved a speaking component, in which my verbal observations of an image depicting a certain event were recorded on tape. After years of studying French through conjugation charts, vocabulary lists, and gentle conversational exercises, the prospect of soliloquy terrified the entire class. However, we spent a great deal of class time practicing speech exercises, which ultimately improved our confidence actually speaking the language.

Are AP courses more difficult than regular high school courses? Are they as difficult as university courses?
One of the most touted values of the AP program is its exposure of students to learning material of greater depth and quantity. The workload for AP courses is generally heavier than that of regular high school courses, which might be a valuable experience to have before you careen into university and become overwhelmed by the weight of your unread readings, only to watch them build up and eventually crash down on your GPA.

Whether or not the critical depth and quantity of AP course material is equally stimulating as a university course is difficult to judge, as the difficulty of a university course can depend on many factors aside from the material itself (your personal strengths and interests, the demands and temperament of the instructor, the work assignments involved). While university course material may be more challenging in its requirement of a greater deal of critical thought for excellence, many students seem to struggle with the amount of material there is to tackle, rather than the critical depth of said material.

Regardless of the level of difficulty of the work you have in high school, one thing you can usually count on is that there will just be more of it in university. Ultimately, a big part of the academic transition to university is adjusting to the difference in workload, and the AP program might help you improve your work ethic early on.

Good luck!