Monthly Archives: June 2017

Good Thing About Exams

Yes, there is a silver lining to your exam-related suffering.

Let’s face it: when you hear the word “exam”, you feel an instant chill go down your spine; that preconditioned dread, that compulsion to groan, that out-of-nowhere nervousness, even if only for a second (and even if it’s not in the context of an exam you have to take). It’s something we all feel, almost instinctively.

Your friend tells you he has an exam, and you thank your stars you’re not in his shoes. Your teacher utters the word and you simultaneously remember all the exams you’ve taken in your life, while foreseeing the impending doom of those that are to come.

I’m not talking about full-blown panic here, but we can all relate to that anxiety-loaded word triggering negative, stressful feelings.

There is, however, a positive side to having your knowledge tested in an exam. Most students reading this will already have their objections at the ready. Some even say exams cloud your knowledge with anxiety and inhibit your access of required neurological pathways, with the ever-present time limit ticking away at the forefront of your thoughts.

However, if you can remember that the purpose of any assessment is to test your knowledge, and to ensure that what you have understood from your materials is applicable to more than just the initial examples you were given, you can see that the exam setting is actually the most effective way of demonstrating your aptitude.

To put it simply, if you can answer the question in the exam environment, you’ll likely be able to answer the question anywhere.

Exams are structured around assessing the knowledge that exists in your head, without access to the internet, without phoning a friend, and without finding a wiki article and then using one of the references at the bottom of the page to maintain the facade that you’re above using Wikipedia.

Of course, exams are stressful and some otherwise reliable students suddenly lose their knowledge as a result of their restrictive and intimidating nature. However, is there a better way to assess how they apply their knowledge outside of the classroom?

Before you object with all the reasons exams are terrible, soul-crushing, torturous heathen rituals, think about the possible scenarios you might be faced with in your ideal job. Think about the time limits of the real world, where you will need to be able to access that knowledge in the back of your brain somewhere among all those Simpsons quotes and Harry Potter spells you told yourself are indicative of your understanding of Latin. Being able to apply what you have been taught – without discussion, spell-check or reassurance* – is the most transparent method of ascertaining your level of comprehension to not only our examiner overlords but also to yourself.

Your application of knowledge in an exam is a reflection of the aptitude and abilities you can be confident in, as well as the areas that require further revision.

In this way, though we still get that chill down our spine as a reflex when the word is mentioned, there is, a positive side to exams.

*Author’s note: I had to phone a friend to remember the word “reassurance”. Oh sweet irony

Stay Safe When You’re Staying Late At Campus

As you may have found since moving on from high school to university or TAFE, you’re expected to pull some ungodly hours on campus.

Though this is where you’ll form a bunch of your favourite tertiary memories – like ordering late-night pizza to get your group through an all-nighter – it also means you’ll sometimes leave after regular staffed hours.

Those who drive might need to cross empty parking lots to their car; others might have to wait for nearly-empty trains and busses to get home. You definitely need not panic (your parents are probably already gnawing at their nails) but it’s essential you stay smart in these circumstances.

Here are eight tips to ensure you stay safe at all times.

1. Keep your family and friends updated.

Since you’re keeping such unusual hours these days, it can be difficult for family, friends, roommates and partners to keep track of your whereabouts. Give them peace of mind by letting them know when you’re leaving and when you expect to get home. Not only does this keep them from being whipped into a panicked frenzy and summoning the AFP to raid the library where you’ve simply nodded off, it means someone else is accountable for your whereabouts.

2. Never walk alone.

“You’ll never walk alone” isn’t just Liverpool’s anthem; it’s also a handy guide to help you avoid danger on campus at night. If you need to get to your car, or the train station, be sure to partner up. Also, if someone else is planning on walking by themselves, be courteous and offer to escort them. Everyone can use a buddy.

3. Carpool!

In fact, why simply walk in pairs when you can drive in trios, or even quintets? (More than that is probably a road hazard.) The company and conversation will also help you remain alert if driving late at night.

4. Avoid dimly lit areas and short cuts.

When making your way across the university or college grounds, try to stick near street lamps and paved pathways. If you spot an area with broken lights, be sure to report it to authorities. Also, try to avoid short cuts; more often than not, these are precisely the parts of the campus with little lighting (and are also rarely populated by other late-staying students). The risk is not worth the extra five minutes you might save.

5. Hear us out: maybe don’t wear headphones!

We know, we know. Sometimes there’s nothing better at the end of a long day than popping in your earphones, blotting out the world and finally cranking the Apple Music, or catching up with your favourite comedy podcast. However, you really should be aware of what’s going on around you as you begin your exit. If you absolutely have to listen to something, keep the volume low and try not to drown out your surroundings – not just for your own safety, either. This way, you might even hear someone else’s call for assistance.

6. Find out the number for campus security and keep it handy.

Whether it’s for your own protection, or others, make sure you have campus security’s number stored on your mobile and at the ready. Usually, security moves pretty quickly to assist those in need once they’ve been alerted to a situation, so be sure you have the right number.

7. Park close (or catch a shuttle).

Parking on campus can be a nightmare, and sometimes you can’t guarantee a spot close to your building. Still, most cars clear out around 5pm. If you know you’re going to be hanging around for a while yet, maybe move your car closer to the building where you’ll be spending the rest of the night. If that’s not a possibility, find out if your campus has a shuttle service, and sync up your movements with its timetable.

8. Download the Safe Haven app.

Of course, you could always download the new Safe Haven app, which turns your smartphone into a personal security device. The app not only maps your location but also offers a panic button that can be held down to alert the Safe Haven team – on notice 365 days a year, 24/7 in a secure control room – who will immediately get in touch and dispatch security if needed (an advancement on the previous generation of security apps). Though the above common-sense rules are integral guidelines for those staying late, there’s no harm in letting technology (with a personal touch) lend a hand in your protection.

All of these tips will get you home safely, where you can relax and put work behind you… at least, for a few hours.

Fight Procrastination With The Perfect Study EnvironmentF

Getting into the rhythm of study is close to impossible and finding a way to focus solely on the task at hand is a lot more challenging than it seems.

So, here is what I do when I cannot procrastinate from my studies any longer:
1) Find Your Zone.
Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, find wherever you focus best and is completely free from distraction. Let whoever is living with you know that now is not the time to discuss whatever particular Mexican food they are craving at that very moment and get down to business. I personally think it is best to work at a desk or table instead of on the couch or a bed, as it separates relaxing and focusing, and helps just a little bit in regards to concentration.
2) Light It Up.
Have a lamp or desk light near you, and position it so you don’t create shadows over your work. I also work really well with candles in my room. usually placing two or three on my desk. (Just keep them clear of your papers!)
3) Music Please!
If you work well with music (and don’t try if you know it will distract), set up a little speaker nearby or plug in your headphones. This one really depends on the individual, but choose something that will help you get in the zone – nothing too upbeat or sentimental. I usually go to a Focus Spotify Playlist or something that can kind of blur into the background.
4) Gear Up.
Get out your lappie, books, texts, pencils, et cetera, and figure out what you need to do. If there is an extensive amount, write a list to make sure nothing is forgotten. Start out with the easiest job or the task you will most enjoy, and work your way from there. Getting the most enjoyable things done first will start you going on a roll to banish the build-up of procrastination. Aim for a simple desk or workspace, keeping only the things you need for each task in front of you. This will allow you to not seem too overwhelmed and keep you chipping away one task at a time.
5) An Apple A Day.
If you are a notorious snacker like myself, stock up! A water bottle is an obvious choice for your workspace, but you should also arm yourself with snacks such as nuts, cut up fruit, crackers or whatever you feel are good to have near you so you can avoid getting up. Easy to eat snacks that you don’t have to make mouthfuls with or eat with two hands are the best, because you don’t need to disrupt your mind’s awesome train of thought.
6) Keep On Keepin’ On.
Study can be awful. Study can seem really daunting. Sometimes, I want to bury study in a deep hole… but when you get down to it, the build-up of not studying is a lot more stressful than the actual work itself. So just do it, and don’t make it a terrible mountain of impossible in your head. It is always worth it. Good luck!