Preparing for finals at home

Mary Conroy, Contributing Writer

As Gaels are in the final few days of the semester, there is one more hurdle to jump over; final exams at home. While Iona students have been adjusting to online classes, it’s unmarked territory for everyone. Gaels at this time of the year are usually studying in the library, stocking up on Starbucks and taking study breaks on East Hill. Now, students are taking finals on computers instead of in the classroom.

Junior Hailey Kourbage, a speech pathology major, shares her personal insights and tips on preparing for finals. Hailey recognizes the vast differences from working at home than at school. During the school year, Kourbage spends much of her time at the library, especially during finals week.

“Finishing up the school year with finals during this pandemic has been noticeably different,” Kourbage said. “I definitely had to put a lot more effort into studying for finals because being home you face more distractions.”

To keep organized and on top of upcoming assignments, Kourbage encourages fellow Gaels to use Post-it notes. Kourbage places sticky notes with due dates for assignments, projects and final exams on her desk.

On-campus academic resources such as the Samuel Rudin Academic Resource Center shifted to an online platform to support students during this disruption of normalcy. The Rudin Center promotes student success by offering group and individual tutoring in a wide range of subjects and is usually very popular and utilized during finals week. The Rudin Center shares the following tips for studying and taking finals at home:

● Pace yourself! Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Do not try and stay up all night before the exam to cram. Instead, break up course material and review small sections each day. Use a schedule to work backwards from the exam date. Track your progress with a checklist of topics you need to review.

● Focus on active learning. Instead of re-reading your notes, force yourself to engage with the material as much as possible. Re-do homework or quiz problems you did incorrectly the first time around, or partner with a classmate and quiz each other. Test your comprehension by writing out the meaning of terms or concepts in your own words.

● Create a study routine that works for you. Find a quiet area to study and reduce distractions while studying. Put your phone in a different room or use apps—such as SelfControl or Freedom—on your computer to block distracting websites. Take regular breaks!

● Exam format matters. Read closely any announcements or emails from your professor about the structure of the exam. Do not collaborate with others on the exam unless permitted. Check before the exam that you have all of the necessary technology—Wi-Fi, software—and email your professor beforehand if you anticipate any technical difficulties.

● Open-book exams require just as much preparation as other exams. Though your notes and books are there to reference, you still need to understand the application of concepts and ideas. You also don’t want to spend so much time looking up answers that you run out of time.

● Work together! Trade paper drafts with a classmate or set up a review session over Zoom with a friend. Reach out to the Rudin Center to work with a tutor.

Students can request tutoring appointments with Rudin tutors. One-on-one tutoring appointments are conducted on Zoom. For more information about the Samuel Rudin Academic Resource Center, please reach out to Marissa Sannella [email protected] or Dana McLachlin [email protected]

Here’s to finishing the year strong. Good luck on finals!