What to bring to an exam

Exam Hall

Image "Exam Hall" courtesy of Flickr user non-partizan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

It was my last exam. Another 2.5 hours and I would be free. FREE. The exam was multiple choice with a Scantron sheet. Sitting down at my desk, I whipped out my Ziplock bag pencil case, rifled through it, and had an “oh crap!” moment. I had forgotten to bring a pencil. *head desk* much? Luckily, someone sitting near me loaned me a pencil and it all worked out. However, this situation was especially ironic because I had written extensively about bringing the necessary tools to each exam! As well, I almost didn’t get in to this course because I wasn’t paying attention to the prereqs. Doh!

Although this situation was resolved in under a minute, it threw off my “game”. Although I didn’t feel like I did any worse because of the situation, not having to deal with it would have been beneficial. Thus, to avoid this particular head desk moment in the future, I made a master checklist of things I should bring to every exam. You might also find it helpful!

Must Have:

  • Pens (2) – an extra one just in case someone else needs it!
  • Pencil (2) – an extra one just in case someone else needs it!
  • Eraser
  • White out
  • Coloured pen (to highlight answers in situations with lots of writing or to annotate graphs)
  • Student ID
  •  Water or other types of beverage
  • Quiet Snack – granola or candy bars probably work the best

Also Include:

  • Tissues – someone, maybe you, will be sick
  • Few pieces of paper – can be used for many things, one of which is to prop up the short leg on a (often) shaky table!
  • Backup ID
  • Watch*
  • Ear Plugs*
  • Calculator*
  • Cheat Sheet*
  • Model kit*

* = may not always be allowed.

I recommend customizing this list for every exam before exam season and keep the lists somewhere noticeable. That way, you could simply double check to make sure you have everything before leaving for each exam.

As well, carry your material in a clear plastic reseal-able bag (like a Ziplock bag). These bags are great because they make finding stuff easier. As well, I’ve never had to put away my “pencil case” because its see-through. If you have too much stuff, use two bags. The things on the “Also include list” can go in a separate bag in your backpack for when you need it.

Bringing everything may seem like overkill, but it’s better to be over than under prepared! Good luck on your exams!

 

Material from CLASS

Thank you to everyone who came out to my CLASS presentation on the 27th! I hope you had fun (or as much as possible while talking about learning – I go gaga for this stuff, but not everyone else does :P) and learned some new things. As promised, here are the handouts and PowerPoint slides. Unfortunately, the presentation isn’t completely stand-alone. However, the Research Approach to Learning section should make sense even to people who were not in the workshop.

Good luck on your next round of midterms (or finals)!

 

Here are the Links:

Research Approach to Learning

Research Approach to Learning Handout

 

Happy Halloween!

Exam Prep Day 1: Where the heck are you?

Scratchpad Gradebook Example

Image "ScratchPad Gradebook Example" Copyright 2011 Scratches on the Notepad

Download ScratchPad Gradebook by clicking here.

It’s that time of the year again! The sky is blue, the grass is green, the flowers are starting to bloom… and you’re stuck indoors studying for those dreaded exams. So much fun… no?

In order to make this a little easier for you, I will be releasing a few blog posts in the upcoming weeks to help you prepare for your finals. Stay tuned and I hope you find them useful!

On to today’s post…

As the cliche goes, “you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been“. As corny as it is, this saying is absolutely true. As finals creep up, it is tempting to just charge ahead and jump into that mountain of readings you have yet to do. But that sort of unstructured busy-work is at best inefficient and at worst absolutely useless. Before you start studying, you have to know how you’re doing in your courses. That is, you have to know where you have been.

So where are you academically? One of the quickest way to gauge your progress is to look at your grades up until this point in the term – and that is where the ScratchPad Gradebook comes into play.

What is the Gradebook? It is an excel document that tells you your overall grade in the course (sans the final exam) once you input your current marks. Aside from showing your current mark, it will also show you the maximum grade you can get in the course (assuming you obtain 100% on your final), and your mark if you just pass the final (50%) on the final. You can see an example in the image above.

If you don’t have sufficient information to create a detailed grade breakdown, take a guess! Guess what your percentage/GPA is in your course right now, and make your you note how much the final exams are worth.

Now what to do now that you know how well you’re doing…? Check out the next post in this series!

How to Use the Scratchpad Gradebook: (all of this is included on the first page of the excel template):

1. Open up a new document using this template. New>>From Template>> (browse to where you’ve saved this and click on it)>>Ok. Save this new document!
2. Navigate to the “Data” tab and Input your grades and their weightings. Follow the example above. Remember that “Contribution to Overall Mark”, “% Mark”, and “Weighted Mark” are in DECIMALS, not percents!
3. Once you have put in all of your marks, navigate to the “Gradebook” tab. This page shows you how well you are doing in each of your courses.
4. In the “Gradebook”, your current mark is how well you are doing in a course taking into account all of your known marks. Maximum grade is calculated assuming you obtain 100% on the final. “Just pass the exam” grade is calculated assuming you obtain a grade of 50% on your final.
5. Questions? Concerns? Did I make a mistake? Shoot me an e-mail!

Tips:
1. Marks from the final exam is not actually shown on the gradebook. This is because gradebook is not really for calculating precise marks, but for figuring out how well one is doing in the course prior to the exams. If there are some marks that you do not yet know. Give them your best guess and perhaps denote that the mark is an estimate in italics.
2. Be careful! Cells are linked together and changing any formula WILL affect your results. Only input words and numbers in coloured boxes on the “Data” sheet, leave the “Gradebook” sheet alone! (Unless you’re intensionally trying something).
3. This excel template is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), and is free for personal use. You are welcome to edit and pass it on to your friends, but you must attribute the original work to me! For details about what you can and cannot do with this template, consult: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

This excel template is a SotN Original.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Academically Professional E-mail Samples

Delete Button

Image " delete " courtesy of Flickr User TheTruthAbout... Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

I am sorry this too me so long to upload! I had it all ready and just forgot the hit the “publish” button. These e-mail samples are not meant to be templates and variations are definitely welcome. As well, these samples are entirely made up by me and any resemblance to real e-mails are purely coincidental. Enjoy!

If you want specific tips on how to construct an academically professional e-mail, check out the article, The Ins and Outs of Academically Professional E-mails.

The Good:

Dear Dr. Smith,

My name is Jane Doe (Student number 111111111) and I am in your economics 100 (section 123) class.

I am e-mailing because I believe a mistake was made in the grading of “Assignment 1 – Demand and Supply”. The grade on my returned assignment was 9/10, but the grade entered into the online posting system showed 6/10. Could you please correct the mark? I would be glad to submit the returned assignment as proof.

Thank you for your time!

Sincerely,

Jane Doe (111111111).

Yes, this message is very formal! And yes, it appropriate as a first e-mail to any prof. It is better to sound a little too formal than a little too flippant.

The Decent:

Hi Kate,

This is Lincoln from your Biology 100 Tutorial (Section 3-11). Is it possible for you to go over a few questions regarding Unit 5 (Plant Physiology) with me next Wednesday sometime in the morning? I know it is not your regular office hour, but I would really appreciate your help.

Thank you!

 

Lincoln Birch – 123456789

Biology 100 Section 3-11.

Undergraduate Student, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences

lbirch@number1university.com

This message is appropriate for a TA, who is likely more relaxed regarding their e-mail etiquette. This could also work as an e-mail to a professor you know well and have e-mailed before. Note the use of the signature line.

The Bad:

Janet,

Set up a meeting between Dr. Kerry (undergrad Advisor for mechanical engineering) and me for tomorrow at 2pm. We will meet in room 211.

Lily

Do not be presumptuous regardless of your recipient, especially if you are requesting something (even if it is not directly from a professor or instructor).

 

The Really Ugly:

Hi Dumbledore,

I am really confusing above your last lecture because it made no sense as your we’re going too fast and my neighbor is picking his nose on the way to class. You said that Emily Bronte write to Jane Eyre, which is not wrong and she wrote Wuthering Heights. Do you think she knot the book becomes popular when she lied? Can you give me 2% on my last midterm because my TA did not tink my grammar was better, but she will be wrong.

Sinceily,

Jim

There are many, many mistakes in this e-mail. Is it exaggerated? Definitely! However, you might be surprised by the number of nonsensical or just plain unintelligible messages profs get. Check your grammar – the “Panda eats shoots and leaves”, not the “panda eats, shoots, and leaves”!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Academically Professional E-mail Samples

Delete Button

Image " delete " courtesy of Flickr User TheTruthAbout... Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

I am sorry this too me so long to upload! I had it all ready and just forgot the hit the “publish” button. These e-mail samples are not meant to be templates and variations are definitely welcome. As well, these samples are entirely made up by me and any resemblance to real e-mails are purely coincidental. Enjoy!

If you want specific tips on how to construct an academically professional e-mail, check out the article, The Ins and Outs of Academically Professional E-mails.

The Good:

Dear Dr. Smith,

My name is Jane Doe (Student number 111111111) and I am in your economics 100 (section 123) class.

I am e-mailing because I believe a mistake was made in the grading of “Assignment 1 – Demand and Supply”. The grade on my returned assignment was 9/10, but the grade entered into the online posting system showed 6/10. Could you please correct the mark? I would be glad to submit the returned assignment as proof.

Thank you for your time!

Sincerely,

Jane Doe (111111111).

Yes, this message is very formal! And yes, it appropriate as a first e-mail to any prof. It is better to sound a little too formal than a little too flippant.

The Decent:

Hi Kate,

This is Lincoln from your Biology 100 Tutorial (Section 3-11). Is it possible for you to go over a few questions regarding Unit 5 (Plant Physiology) with me next Wednesday sometime in the morning? I know it is not your regular office hour, but I would really appreciate your help.

Thank you!

 

Lincoln Birch – 123456789

Biology 100 Section 3-11.

Undergraduate Student, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences

lbirch@number1university.com

This message is appropriate for a TA, who is likely more relaxed regarding their e-mail etiquette. This could also work as an e-mail to a professor you know well and have e-mailed before. Note the use of the signature line.

The Bad:

Janet,

Set up a meeting between Dr. Kerry (undergrad Advisor for mechanical engineering) and me for tomorrow at 2pm. We will meet in room 211.

Lily

Do not be presumptuous regardless of your recipient, especially if you are requesting something (even if it is not directly from a professor or instructor).

 

The Really Ugly:

Hi Dumbledore,

I am really confusing above your last lecture because it made no sense as your we’re going too fast and my neighbor is picking his nose on the way to class. You said that Emily Bronte write to Jane Eyre, which is not wrong and she wrote Wuthering Heights. Do you think she knot the book becomes popular when she lied? Can you give me 2% on my last midterm because my TA did not tink my grammar was better, but she will be wrong.

Sinceily,

Jim

There are many, many mistakes in this e-mail. Is it exaggerated? Definitely! However, you might be surprised by the number of nonsensical or just plain unintelligible messages profs get. Check your grammar – the “Panda eats shoots and leaves”, not the “panda eats, shoots, and leaves”!