Here I am again at the time of year that I like the least. By this time, it should be quite obvious to most students as to what they are going to have to do in order to get the grade that they want in a class. But there is this growing group of people who continue to believe in the hope of comic books–that what they do now will override every single assignment that was never turned in, every paper that they did not bother to edit before handing in, every homework assignment that they made no attempt to complete and every test that they failed and blamed on the teacher. And the real reason why I hate this time of year is because I was one of those students who did what I just listed and it still aches.
I learned that when that first test comes back–you know the one, the one that you thought you got an ‘A’ on but you barely puled a ‘C’ with the extra credit and the curve–the pain of that grade comes quick but the change that must be implemented in order to correct that grade is slow. Therefore, you must change immediately if you expect to get slow-change to arrive by the next test or assignment. And when I say “change” I mean change that could take several steps before it becomes profitable. This is why tutoring is becoming free in colleges across the nation. Educators and students have come to realize that there are some academic journeys that you cannot make on your own, and some of them must be accomplished in stages. I will use myself as an example and maybe you can see just what I mean.
So I was taking a Food Microbiology class and on the first test I scored a ‘B’ which was great for me when I was in college. However, the second test was a ‘C’ and most people scored higher than I did. So these are the steps that I took to get into the ‘A’ and ‘B’ scoring range:
(a) I took the test over: Ask for a copy of the test, sit in the instructor’s office or the back of his/her next class and re-take the test. Not for a grade, but for understanding. Mark out the questions that you missed because of simple mistakes and highlight the ones that you really missed
(b) Pay attention to the question format: Did you mostly miss the multiple choice or the short answer questions? I was great at short answer but I sucked at the multiple choice so I dug deeper…
(c) Define the words in the question: My professor started randomly pointing at different words within the question like (lactobacillus acidophilus and anaerobic) and told me to give him my definition of the word–both the scientific definition and a definition using my own words. That let me know that my vocabulary was weak–the vocabulary of the subject, not just the vocabulary of the test material.
(d) Create a new study strategy: In order to build this new vocab I needed to spend extra time looking for definitions, but I also looked up images to this words using a Google search because I am a very visual learner. Do you know what type of learner YOU are?
(e) Apply to a practice test: I asked my instructor for a copy of any practice test questions. He was very hesitant to do this but he gave us a few. It allowed me to try out my new strategy well before trying it out on the real thing–THE NEXT TEST!!!