First year science midterms and exams – Part 1 (Attending Lectures)
Whether you like it or not, almost all courses within the Faculty of Science contain midterms and exams. Even scarier is the fact that tests account for 60-100% of your final mark. As a result, there is less emphasis on course work and lots of emphasis on examinations. Needless to say, test taking strategies you employ are paramount to your success in the course.
1. Attending Lectures
Class attendance is normally high at the start of the course. It gradually decreases until midterms, when it reaches roughly 40 attending students in a class of 1200. You are always strongly encouraged to attend as many classes as possible. Apart from the obvious learning advantage of coming to class, there are a number of reasons for attending:
- The professor often mentions information that does not appear within lecture notes and the textbook. These often make great test questions and are mostly used to reward students attending class.
- The professor often presents practice questions that aren’t found on the lecture outline or online. These questions often closely resemble the ones that will appear on the test. No professor hesitates to reward attending students because a low class attendance can damage their reputation and importance of their field of interest.
- The professor will remember your face, which will establish a very good relationship. This can be useful for future questions, letters of recommendation, or job opportunities.
- The human mind consists of the conscious and subconscious components. The results of various famous psychological studies strongly suggested that the subconscious mind remembers information even if the conscious mind loses focus. When you study, you may find the ability to recall information from lectures as you move through test material. Therefore, a lack of focus is not a good reason to skip class.
- Professors often mention the sections not covered on the exam and midterms. This is often posted online, but not always! Furthermore, they always hint at what you do and do not need to know as they go through the course material. Narrowing the focus of test material will save quite some energy and time for students attending class, which is quite an advantage over those who don’t.
Many professors post lecture notes before each class. These lecture notes usually contain brief point form bullets of topics discussed. You are strongly encouraged to print these notes for class and take notes throughout the lecture. If you do not like to write notes, I suggest you occasionally write down a few words – this will help you set mental markers that will be quite valuable in recalling lecture material while studying.