Ace Those Finals!

Midterm exams are behind us, and Finals are just around the corner. These are special times of the semester that strike fear into the hearts of many students. This type of panic reaction, however, can be averted long before the exams with the proper study habits and the use of academic tools such as active listening and note-taking.

Good note-taking is essential to doing well in school, as opposed to "just surviving." Experimental research conducted at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University found that active listening, recording of notes in class and a review of notes outside of class contribute to increased student retention and retrieval of instructor-presented information.

Comprehension of what a professor is trying to convey to the class is of the utmost importance. As American electrical engineer and inventor Charles Kettering (1876 - 1958) once said, "There is a great difference between knowing a thing and understanding it." When a student fails to comprehend the material, it is difficult to take note of it. Note-taking stimulates active listening and participation, such as asking questions for clarification.

Organization of materials and thoughts are essential to scholastic achievement, yet most students are not familiar with the many methods for organizing notes. The picture on the left is an example of a Roundtable template found at This website has many other good templates to help organize the ideas that professors may try to instill, such as Cluster, Episodic, Hierarchical and many more. It is wise to keep several of these templates on hand to have the right format when it is needed. Organizing one's thoughts in this manner may help ensure comprehension.

Another study at The University of Texas in Austin shows that 47% of what a person hears is forgotten in the first twenty minutes and that 62% is forgotten after the first day. Such statistics are even higher if a student doesn't "get it." With that in mind, the sooner after class the student reviews his/her notes, the better the comprehension and retention of the material.

With preparation for midterms underway, the message is clear: Take good notes, ask questions -- and study!

For additional help with study habits or to receive free tutoring for those tough classes, visit the Student Success Center, located in Room 80 of the Learning Resources Building.

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