When thousands of universities and millions of students were thrown in the loop this spring, professors and administrators felt pressured into reconsidering final exam week. Half a school-year later, and remote learning still has priority over the ordinary classroom. This semester is unlike the past and will end differently. Now, professors and students are more prepared to take their final exams online and have become accustomed to the Zoom learning sessions. For many undergrads, electronic finals are a new experience. Study methods vary and dwindle at the same time. Nevertheless, here are five tips for taking final exams virtually.
Be Aware of the Test Procedure
Before you take a final exam, acquire as much information about the test format as possible. Ask your professor any questions you have regarding the information. Like any test, it helps to know what type of questions there will be: multiple choice, true or false, fill in the blank, short answer, essay, or a combination of some or all of these. Remote test-taking is very different for obvious reasons. Some other things to know in advance include:
- Is the final exam cumulative?
- Is there a set time for the final exam, or can students do it whenever they want?
- Does the test have a time limit? If so, what is it?
- Will you have to download software that limits your computer’s abilities?
- Will students have to turn on their cameras when taking the exam?
Take Study and Technology Breaks
If you don’t take study breaks, you will quickly get burnt out. Remind yourself that you are a human and not a robotic contraption. There is a reason you decided to attend college and study your specific major. Overworking yourself will take away from your passion, even if you need the education before you work in the field. According to Inc.com, “The human brain naturally works in bursts of high activity that last about an hour, and then it switches to low activity for a while. When that happens, it’s in your best interest to take a break.” Taking just 30 to 60 minutes off every few hours will make an immense difference in your productivity.
This semester is unique because millions of students are doing it 100% digital. It is essential to take frequent hiatuses from technology. Find an activity that doesn’t involve electronics. You can go for a walk, listen to music, take a nap, eat, read, play with pets, or communicate with others.
Use Paper Notes, If Possible
Similar to taking technology breaks, handwritten notes allow you to study while heeling your declining eyesight. Writing helps you process information, even if it is time-consuming. Using various colors of highlighters and pens will help keep your notes organized and ascetically pleasing. For those who don’t have neat handwriting, they can always print out their typed notes. Otherwise, you can study from a textbook or flashcards.
Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to find out if university students retained information better by writing or typing notes. They “gave students the opportunity to review their notes in between the lecture and test. The thinking is, if students have time to study their notes from their laptops, the fact that they typed more extensive notes than their longhand-writing peers could possibly help them perform better. But the students taking notes by hand still performed better.”
Resolve Technology Issues Beforehand
No one wants to be the student whose computer breaks while they are taking a final exam. In the past, college students didn’t have to worry about Wi-Fi, hackers, or viruses. Before taking the test, go through the following checklist:
- Be sure your electronic device is fully charged or is charging while you take the exam.
- Take the test somewhere that provides reliable and consistent Wi-Fi. Understand that the weather can impact internet efficiency.
- Ad blockers are always great for slow-running devices.
- Virus protection software can stop damaging malware from destroying your computer.
- Temporarily disable any distracting notifications.
- If you noticed any red flags recently, this could single future computer failure.
- Have a back-up plan if there are technical issues. Is there another device you can use? What does your professor suggest you do if something goes wrong?
It may be tempting, but “you’d only be cheating yourself.” This cliché is true, especially for exams that a student needs to pass for their major. Undergrads who have an information-packed major will need this knowledge for their career, and they will not have time to search the internet when they must make an immediate decision. Students might argue that cheating is less complicated when they are working virtually, but some colleges are finding methods to restrict that.
In need of some more advice? Here are five tips for studying for finals: Quarantine edition.