It’s nearing the end of midterm season, and I think most students are ready for fall reading week. Maybe it’s a time for catching up on assignments or just taking a break from schoolwork altogether. For me, it’ll be a mixture of both. I’ll be heading to Chicago for the first half of the week and the second half will consist of studies.
Let’s rewind. In these past few (and quite hectic) weeks, I’ve experienced lots of firsts. I’ve taken my first midterm which was for PSY100 and submitted my first assignment in university. The psychology midterm was all multiple-choice. I’m glad I took a psychology course in high school, otherwise I don’t know how I could’ve learned all the material. In university, we definitely move through content very quickly. As opposed to high school where we’d spend two to four weeks on a unit, in university we’re knocking out a unit every week. It’s a lot of content to put it simply.
I have a rule for myself, though. I will not let myself fall behind on readings. I’ve managed it well… for the most part. Almost all five of my courses have readings each week. They aren’t “required,” but they are essentially required to succeed in the class. For psychology in particular, I try to finish the chapter before the first lecture of the week. Sometimes I’ll read half of it and finish the rest before the second lecture. The readings and lectures are truly complementary. You can’t have one without the other to support and enhance the learning.
I also completed my first major assignments and am still working on a few. Most of them require analysis and using textual evidence to back up your argument. Like I mentioned earlier, the readings are essential. By completing these readings beforehand, I avoided the stresses of cramming, having to quickly read and understand it, then trying to write an essay. I could take my time and think carefully about how I wanted to write the essay.
Just doing the readings was not enough, though. I was certainly still nervous about submitting my first major essay. Luckily, I found my professors and TAs to be a fantastic resource. I scheduled meetings with my TAs throughout the essay writing process so that I could run my ideas by them beforehand, see if I was going in the right direction during, and ask any final questions near the end. Often times, the TAs are the ones grading your work, so their input is critical and extremely valuable.
Finally, I clicked the submit button on Quercus, which is a new but relatively straightforward system to navigate. I’ve found that it’s much easier to submit assignments electronically than print out a hard copy to bring to class or tutorial.
No matter if you’re a first- or upper-year student or even a professor, we are all getting out of midterm season with a well-deserved break.
by Elizabeth Chan