Both instructors and students have had to adjust to teaching and learning differently because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As with everything else, exam season is changing at VIU. Technically, most exams this fall will be some type of take-home exam. VIU has listed all timed exams on the exam schedule. You might however be given more time to complete the test. Your instructors will provide all the details.
Along with the timed exams listed on the exam schedule we expect many other non-timed, take home exams to be given out during class and due back the week after. The instructors will provide all the details including the deadlines for submitting exams to them. This means that you may need to take more than one exam on the same day. Time management skills are essential.
You will find out what types of tests you may face this year and how to prepare. Also, you'll find some general tips that can help you prepare for success in exam season.
There are many types of online tests
These are some of the different types of assessments your instructors may use this semester to assess your learning and provide some preparation strategies.
An instructor might decide to conduct online tests as they would in class. This will allow for collaboration (peers talking with peers and sharing their best answer for peer review). They recognize that this type collaboration is a very effective learning strategy. Some students will learn while taking the test, and they will also benefit from everyone's preparation.
Strategie for student prep
Make friends with the other students, study together, and plan on taking the test together. Your instructor will assume you have your books open. This may lead to a time limit for the test. This means that you won't have the time to search for all the answers. So prepare well by memorizing pertinent vocabulary and facts. You also need to know how to quickly access information if you aren't sure what you learned. Microsoft OneNote allows you to quickly create tags for key words to help you find relevant information in your notes. You can also follow the tips for exam preparation on this Learning Matters website.
Multiple-choice exam with multiple versions
An instructor may decide to take online tests as they would normally. However, they will create a bank of questions using VIULearn. This is a work-intensive process. The students get their own sub-sets of questions and collaboration is reduced. While it is possible for students to still discuss and answer questions in the same room, or virtually from home, this would mean that they would answer all questions on both the test they were assigned and thus have done twice as much work.
Strategie for student prep
Make a commitment to each other and pick at least one study friend. If you're studying with someone else and learning from them, you learn more and have a deeper understanding of the material. You can also socialize more when you work with someone to study. Loneliness in virtual learning can decrease if there is at least one friend. Trent University offers some tips on how to study for open-book online exams.
Instructors may set exams in which answers can't be found online. Short-answer tests for critical thinking or problem-solving are a great way to do this. Short-answer tests are used to ensure that students practice critical thinking.
Strategie for student prep
Learn the terminology, facts, and concepts to be better equipped to apply them in cases and short answers. If your instructor uses short-answer tests, it is likely that they also taught the course with cases that encourage you to practice applying concepts. So make sure you go through all the cases and examples the instructor assigns as homework. Actively participate in the exercises, examples, and cases in class. They are meant to help you pass the test. To help you understand the concepts you have learned, you might consider joining a study group. These are some Education Corner tips to help you prepare and pass short answer tests.
General exam preparation tips
These strategies will allow you to succeed in your take-home exams, regardless of the type.
To ensure that you don't submit all your exams at the same time, create a schedule. To make sure you are able to block the time for your exams, set up your own due dates and then try to adhere to them. Your stress will be reduced by being in control of your own schedule and following the guidelines of your instructors. You can create positive pressure by agreeing to a test date with a friend and holding them both accountable for sticking to the task. If you are studying for an exam or working for an hour, turn off your notifications on your phone or computer. You can find more tips on the Learning Matters Manage Time and Concentration page.
We might decide that when the clock strikes midnight, we have less time to do activities that increase our energy, alertness, positive mood, and nutrition. Instead, we will need activities that provide us with joy and belonging. When you see yourself as more than a human doer with lots to do, but also as someone who is happy, healthy, well-fed and connected, you will be more likely to have the motivation to self-care throughout your exam period. You'll bring your best self every day you sit down for your take-home exam.
You should start by reading the course syllabus. After defining learning outcomes, instructors create quizzes to measure them. This is covered on the Learning Matters' Study Skills and Techniques section.
It is often forgotten that instructors are a crucial learning resource. Your instructor can help you understand if you're unsure. This link explains how to connect with instructors.
It is a great way to keep on track by joining study groups or finding a study buddy. You can share information and quiz one another. Peer-Supported Learning is available in most programs. PSL is a peer-supported, free study program that offers regularly supported sessions with a trained peer.
Finally, practice calmness and learn how to manage your anxiety. Learn to be mindful of your breathing and silence your mind daily. This will allow you to practice calm breathing. If you can control your mind to concentrate on the task at hand and silence it, you will be able to remain present and calm. You can find resources and links in the episode notes for Successful U's episode 3: Handling stress.
Preparation is the key to success in test taking. Checking in with your instructors to discuss expectations about content and test style, as well collaboration on assignments and exams is a good idea. The positive experience of preparing for an exam and then executing it well can be achieved by utilizing a variety study strategies, including time management, stress management, and using a variety different study strategies. You have many options for support.