20 October 2015

How to succeed on exam day

Whether you’ve studied a lot or a little, taking the right approach on exam day itself can really help improve your marks. Make a plan beforehand. Clinton Bell

Doing well on an exam isn’t just about what you know - it’s about understanding what’s being asked of you, managing your time, and performing under pressure.  So take a deep breath and try to stay calm as we go over some strategies for exam success!

Read the question

This may seem obvious, but when you’re in the grip of exam-day panic it’s easy to skim over instructions or miss important information. Take a deep breath, slow down, and read the question and any other instructions carefully. Pay close attention to direction words (e.g. “compare”, “identify”, “discuss”) and any limitations placed on your answer (“in Australia”, “since the year 2000”, “using differentiation by parts”).

Marks are based on how well you address the question you were asked, and there is a set number of marks for each question, so make sure your answers are on target. A detailed and beautifully-written response which doesn’t answer the question at all is worth nothing, and you won’t get extra marks for “showing off” by including information which isn’t relevant.

Don’t try to reproduce long passages from the textbook word-for-word. It may be tempting if you’re not confident about your writing skills, but it won’t get you good marks. Examiners usually want evidence that you understand the material, not that you have memorised the text. They may deliberately set questions which are just different enough from what’s in the book that copying won’t work. If you don’t acknowledge your source properly, you also risk being accused of plagiarism!

Time is of the essence

As well as reading the question itself, look at how many marks it is worth - this indicates how much time you should spend on each question. The more marks a question is worth, the longer and more detailed your response is expected to be. Don’t spend an hour agonising over a question which is worth very little!

Most exams don’t require you to answer the questions in the order they are presented, so if you get stuck on a question, don’t waste too much time - move on to the next one. You can come back to it later after you have finished the questions you can answer more easily. Sometimes working on other questions will even jog your memory!

Stay to the end

The only time you should leave an exam early is if the building is on fire. If you finish before the time is over, congratulations! Check your answers and see if there’s anything you can improve. If you’re completely stuck and don’t think you can answer any more questions, try anyway.

Think about related information, imagine your lecturer talking about the topic, draw a diagram… use any strategy you can think of. If you still can’t do it, go over your other answers and try to improve them. As long as you have time left, you still have a chance to get a few extra marks!

When it’s over, it’s over

So the exam is over, for better or for worse. You’ve used the strategies here and hopefully you’re feeling confident! Even if you’re not, there’s no point stressing about it - you can’t go back in time and change how you did. So my final tip is that when the exam is over, you’re done with it. Relax and take a well-deserved break!

Sources of help and information
What are your tips for exam day? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @monashunilib


Studying math by Steven S.
Used under CC 2.0 licence.

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19 October 2015

Matheson Library extended hours and bus

Get more study done with late night opening at the Matheson Library.

From Monday 26 October 2015, until the end of the exam period, the Sir Louis Matheson Library will offer extended exam study time.

During this four-week period:
  • The Matheson Library will be open from 8am until 2am Monday to Thursday inclusive.
  • There will be security and a security bus in operation until 2 am on the days the library is operating on extended hours.
  • Fridays and weekends will operate on normal hours.
  • The extended hours will finish on Thursday 19 November. 
Check the opening hours for all libraries.

More study spaces are available on campus. The airport lounge on level 1 of the Campus Centre will be open 24 hours during Swot Vac and throughout the exam period.

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    13 October 2015

    How to make the most of exam revision

    Even if you tried these tips for effective study last semester, have a read of them again ! It might be Clinton Bell

    With end-of-semester exams rapidly approaching, it’s time for some serious study… but it can be difficult to juggle the exam-time crunch with the rest of your life.

    Keep it regular

    Waiting until the day before the exam to start revising is a terrible idea - and not just because it means less study time. Research has shown that you’re more likely to remember things if you spread your revision sessions out. In other words, it’s better to study a subject one hour a day for seven days than to study it for seven hours in one day.

    If time is short, you can try changing between tasks to break up your study. After reading a chapter, instead of doing the exercises immediately, try studying a different topic for an hour before coming back to them. This helps you practise holding what you’ve learned in long-term memory, instead of forgetting it the moment you’re done with that chapter!

    Student, test thyself

    Speaking of exercises, one of the best ways to prepare for an exam is by testing yourself. Practice makes perfect, after all! Flash cards are a popular way to do this, but you can also do the exercises from your books, get someone else to ask you questions, or do past exams. You could check with your lecturer if you can't find previous exams for your unit.

    If you want to take things a step further, try doing a past exam in exam conditions. Turn off your phone, turn off the music, sit at your desk, and set the same time limit as the actual exam. This can help you avoid exam-day nerves by getting used to the conditions you will be working in on the day. It also gives you a feel for how long you have to complete the exam.

    Be practical

    Knowing the material is all well and good, but don’t forget to look after practical concerns as well! If there’s any equipment you need, buy or borrow it before exam day - and if you need a calculator, check that the batteries work. Also make sure you know exactly when and where your exam is, and how to get there. If you’ve never been to the exam venue before, try making the trip next time you need a study break!

    Above all, remember that successful study is about how much you learn, not how much time you spend hunched over your desk. So use these tips, or the Library's quick guide to Exam revision strategies, to make your time count, and good luck on your exams!

    Got a study strategy that works well for you? Share it in the comments or on Twitter @monashunilib

    Photo: Cookie study, by David Simonetti, 2007

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    12 October 2015

    Study spaces at Caulfield

    We're making every effort to make as many study seats available as we can in the Caulfield Library and elsewhere on campus during this critical period of the semester.

    Level 4 of the library is now closed for refurbishment and all furniture has been redistributed to levels 2 and 3. We have provided larger tables in some of the rooms in the corridor on level 2 which should make these spaces more usable.

    Library access restricted to Monash users only

    A temporary exclusion period is now in operation until 13 November. This means that non-Monash visitors will not be able to access the library during this period. Please make sure you have your ID card with you when you come to the library.

    Other study spaces on campus

    Additionally, alternative study spaces will be available in Buildings B, T and F during Swot Vac and the exam period.

    Buildings B and T

    The following rooms will be available from 26 October to 20 November, Monday to Friday 8am – 12 midnight and Saturday and Sunday 10am – 9pm:

    • Building B: Rooms 220–222, 224, 226, 445, 448, 450, 457–459, 471, 476, 477
    • Building T: Rooms 305 and 309.
    Student kitchens and toilets are available in Buildings B and T.

    Building F

    The following rooms will be available (from 27 October) Monday to Friday 7am – 7pm:

    • Building F: Rooms 441 and 648.

    Toilets are available in Building F.

    Campus security will be increased as more students stay on campus later during this period.

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    8 October 2015

    Study at uni can be fun

    It is always worth remembering that your studies can be not only rewarding but also enjoyable. This blog post focuses on the possibilities for fun while actually learning Damian Gleeson, Learning Skills Adviser, Caulfield Library. 

    As you approach the end of semester you may find that most of your work is due at the same time. Yikes! Not only that - you may have exams looming and approaching fast. This can be stressful, especially if this is your first time, or if you haven’t done so well in past semesters.

    Form a study group

    Study at university can be a lonely business. Sure, there are certain tasks like individual essays, reports and presentations that require you to work independently, but that only applies to those tasks. You probably have 12 - 15 people in your tutorial or lab group with whom you definitely have something in common!
    Ideally, a study group consists of 4 or 5 members, though this is flexible. Something like a DISC questionnaire can be a useful tool for determining the personality and approach to work of your group’s members. This can help you to identify the variety of strengths and areas that need work among your team mates. Once you’ve worked all this out, you may find something like this:
    • Student A is quiet, but takes meticulous lecture notes. Student A is a useful resource for the group for this reason. He’s a top record-keeper of key lecture content.
    • Student B is talkative and energetic. She is great at remembering conversations and important insights from your tutor. She’s both likeable and a natural leader. Combined with Student A’s lecture notes, you have the lecture and tute materials covered.
    • Student C’s strength is research and reading. He got a HD for the first assignment and your tutor singled out his excellent research, citing and referencing skills. Someone with this much attention to detail is a great resource to ensure that your group is at its most effective when revising the semester’s content.
    • Student D is also quiet and is not confident about her English language skills. However, she has work experience in the field you are studying, which allows her to clearly see and explain why the unit’s content is relevant to your group’s future professions.
    So there is a wide range of personalities, skills and knowledge in your group. Cool! This means any areas that individual members think are weaknesses for them can be overcome by the members who are strong in those areas. It also means your strengths are not just an advantage for you - your team mates can also reap the benefits. That’s a great boost for your confidence. Put it to use reviewing the reading, lecture and tutorial materials. Put it to the test by working on past exam questions together.

    Revision - turn a boring chore into an enjoyable endeavour

    If this describes you and the way you like to work (left), take advantage of it (right). Your learning style is yours and no one else’s, so why not take advantage of it?
    • I like setting and meeting goals    -     Use a to-do list.
    • I work best against the clock  -      Try the Pomodoro technique.
    • I like to draw or doodle  -    Use mind maps to outline how to solve a problem.
    • I like music  -   Write songs about important information that you need to remember. More here.
    • I’m a night owl. I enjoy staying up late   -  Study when you are most alert and do mundane tasks when you are least alert.
    • Solve questions from the textbook   -  A no-brainer
    • If there are few questions, turn chapter titles into questions then practise answering them  - Requires thought.  See example below:

    Possible questions

    What issues arise for managers in a global environment?

    What is social responsibility and how do managerial ethics apply to it?

    How are change and innovation best managed?

    Why and how do managers motivate employees?

    If you remain uncertain about how to be efficient and take joy in your academic work, don’t forget a friendly Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser is available to speak with you at a drop in.

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    7 October 2015

    Math Tutor

    Get a handle on those concepts in maths that you missed out on at school, or can't remember, writes Tracey Whyte, Subject Librarian for Education at Berwick.

    If you want to build your mathematical skills and confidence then go to Math Tutor online.

    The Library provides access to this excellent resource via the Kanopy streaming database and you can access it via the Library's Search tool.

    "The Math Tutor Collection offers a selection offers video tutorials on topics from secondary mathematics, aimed at students who wish to revise these topics in preparation for study at University, but equally useful for those meeting this content for the first time.

    "I recommended some of the videos in the 'Sequences and Series' topic to my students, because I thought the content was clearly and thoroughly explained, and might support those students who were meeting this content for the first time."

    (Monica Baker, lecturer, PhD student and maths teacher)

    The content covers over 80 mathematics topics and provides diagrams and worked examples to clearly explain mathematical concepts. There are a series of eight videos to watch:
    • Geometry and Vectors
    • Algebra
    • Integration
    • Arithmetic
    • Trigonometry
    • Functions and graphs
    • Sequences and series
    • Differentiation
    Each topic describes the subjects taught within each video and displays between five and 11 clips ranging from 10 minutes to over an hour.

    For those who want to challenge their skills a bit more, Math Tutor has created a website that contains these videos with diagnostic tests, exercises and a pdf text version. These resources are available from the Math Tutor website.

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    5 October 2015

    Library refurbishments update

    Architect's design for new entry, Caulfield Library
    While the refurbishment of the Caulfield and Matheson libraries may cause some inconvenience, in the long run the transformation of these libraries will contribute to improved student facilities at the University. We apologise for any current inconvenience.

    At Caulfield Library the work is expected to start on Thursday 15 October. The builders will be working on level four and on two sides of level three. This will affect study facilities and collections:

    Level four will be a construction zone. The postgraduate rooms, the meeting room and the quiet study area on that level are no longer available. Study desks and chairs have also been moved down to other floors for students to use.
    • On level three, 24 computers have been moved from the west side of the library to the east side, so that students can still use them.
    • Books, journals and audio-visual collections are being moved down to the ground level. If you can’t find an item, ask at the information point for its new location.
    • The library lift is closed except to users with a disability.
    At the Matheson Library, Clayton Campus, building work is well underway in the north end of the library. Ask at the information point to request material from the Matheson Store and the Asian Studies Research Collection. Toilets on the lower ground floor are temporarily unavailable during this stage of the building works.

    Alternative toilet facilities are available on the upper floors of the library, opposite the Den Café in the underpass, and in nearby buildings including the Rotunda and the Menzies Building. After 5pm students may use toilet facilities on level one of the Information Services Building.
    If you require any assistance please ask at the information point.

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