The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

5 Tips For Surviving Online Finals

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Studying outside can help you prep for finals while getting a good dose of Vitamin D! Photo credit: Asher Thye

As the semester comes to an end, students are preparing to complete their courses and finals online.

For students like Abby Cole, a junior English major, the transition to virtual school presented a challenge for finishing up her final projects. Even though she’s taken online classes before, this semester is a “totally different experience” because none of her courses originally planned to be online.

So far, the additional pressure of COVID-19 has made studying difficult.

“With the stress of a pandemic, it’s hard to focus on something that feels, sort of insignificant in the grand scheme of things,” Cole said. “Finals just feel kind of silly.”

But pandemic or not, finals are on their way. Although this semester’s exams may be online, students can still find ways to excel.

1. Be Prepared

Just because the format of an exam may look different this semester, it doesn’t mean studying isn’t important.

Adreana Julander, who supervises the tutoring program at SMU, said students should prepare for online exams the same way as they would if the test was in-person. She added that even if professors allow for an open-notes or open books exam, a common mistake among students is their lack of preparation.

Instead, Julander says that students should “try and summarize all of their notes on just a couple of pages, so [they] don’t go through everything” during the exam.

2. Know the Format of the Exam

Similarly, Julander explains that “teachers who haven’t done multiple-choice,” questions during in-person exams, “are maybe gonna do multiple choice now.”

Before taking the final, ask the professor what type of questions will be on it. To avoid surprises on exam day, figure out if the test will be multiple-choice, short answer, an essay, or all of the above. Then, prepare accordingly.

3. Ask Questions

Raising a hand or speaking up during an online class might seem daunting, but understanding the curriculum is crucial to succeeding during finals. Many professors plan to hold virtual meetings, and the A-LEC will tutor via Zoom. Students can sign up online to meet with a tutor Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m CST. For additional help, Academic Counseling will meet students via Zoom as well.

4. Think Through Possible Technology Issues

The switch to online tests leaves rooms for technological errors. Many finals this semester will be done on a computer with lockdown browser installed.

“Make sure you have all of that working before you start your test,” Julander said.

By testing computers and lockdown browsers, students can prevent tech problems from occurring during exams. If something does go wrong during the test, email the instructor immediately.

5. Take Advantage of Additional Resources

For a full rundown of finals preparation, Becca Umobong, Director of Academic Skill Development in the Learning Enhancement Center at SMU, posted an online workshop for students. In the video, Umobong prepared a walkthrough tutorial about planning the end of the semester successfully.

For more resources on finals preparation, SMU has a list of study skills resources available to all students.

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