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Turn to CAS and Counseling Center during finals week

Hold on, Western students! Don’t sell those textbooks yet, and keep those notebooks out! Classes may be over, but we still have one week left of school: the most dreaded week of all – finals week. Beginning May 4, students must take a final exam in each class they attended this semester. But don’t freak out yet. Even if you’re not ready today, there are lots of things you can do to prepare yourself for the upcoming tests.
Among the many resources available to students here on campus is the Center for Academic Support, or CAS. The CAS is located right beside the library and is open to students Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Center is run by student tutors who provide free sessions and workshops in subjects including reading, writing, math, study skills, and a variety of specific courses listed on their website. Students seeking help at the CAS can study one-on-one with a tutor or in a group with other students learning the same subject. Don’t forget to bring your Western ID when attending a session.
Cathy Gann, the reading and study skills coordinator, has some helpful hints for students during these trying times of final reviews.
“Studying should be continuous,” Gann said. “Always go back and look over your notes at least once a week.”
Gann also promotes the Cornell Method, a two-column system of note-taking. For more information on the Cornell Method, request a handout at the CAS. By writing down what they hear in class, students are able to create sort of a self study guide and are therefore better able to retain the subject matter.
“You remember more of what you hear than what you read.” Gann said.
Another tip Gann has for students is to always try. Even if you don’t know the answer to a question, take a guess. It’s better to get some points than none at all.
Also available for student support is Western’s Counseling Center. This center is located in Eder 203 and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Although faculty advisers are more suited for career and course advice, the counselors here are excellent at helping students relieve stress. During finals week, there’s a lot of that stress going around.
One thing that students struggle with above all during finals is test anxiety. Steve Potter, one of Western’s counselors, was able to give some great advice about test taking. Using a technique called biofeedback, Potter can help students learn to control their fight or flight response. This is the instinct that arises when one perceives a threat. Quite often, this is what students feel when taking a test. To decrease stress using biofeedback, Potter trains students to increase the temperature of their hands. As the temperature in one’s hands increase, stress levels go down. All students have to do is focus on remaining calm.
“It’s important to relax as much as possible,” Potter said. “When people are calm, they do better on tests.”
So how are students preparing for finals? English Education major Sarah McClure says her most successful study techniques are to make notecards and rewrite her notes, then compare them to the textbook or lessons to see how accurate they are.
“I like to test how well I remember things,” McClure said.
McClure also says that as the semester comes to an end, she is much more worried about papers to write and presentations to give than tests she has to take.
Another lesson Potter wants students to learn is not to overdramatize things. So many students use words and phrases like “always” and “never” and “terrible.” Often students are just blowing things out of proportion due to stress. Try to avoid misconceptions like “having a tutor means I’m dumb” or “failing a test makes me a failure.” Finals aren’t designed to make students look stupid or to embarrass students. They’re simply a learning experience. And there are always people at the CAS and counseling center that are here to help students succeed.

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