Pre-finals week planning = The calm before the storm

The final weekend in November was a long one that left us all feeling a bit more relaxed, but, for many of us, our stress returned the minute December 1st arrived. The last day of classes and Reading Days are right around the corner, which is hard to believe since many of you still have midterms to think about. With only three weeks left in the semester, now is a great time to create a plan to get everything done!

Here’s what you can do to make the most of your pre-finals time:study-hacks-for-reading-days-fall-2016

  1. Attend our Reading Days Study Hacks workshop

Wednesday, December 7, 5:00-6:00 p.m.

ARCH 110

Thursday, December 8, 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Weingarten Center Lounge

Register here:

Staff members from the Weingarten Center will walk you through how to create a realistic study schedule, analyze your professors’ expectations and study actively during Reading Days.

  1. Make an appointment with a Learning Instructor

If you want more personalized study tips, stop by or call us at (215)573-9235 to make a 50-minute appointment with a Learning Instructor. It’s never too late to come see us! Many of our appointments at this time of the semester focus on planning ahead and preparing for finals week. Making an appointment also helps you get things done earlier. If you have a presentation to do, we can be a practice audience. We can help you brainstorm for an upcoming final paper, days or weeks, in advance or connect you to other resources that may also be able to assist you in the final days of the semester.

  1. Stop by our extended walk-in hoursextended-walk-ins

In addition to regular appointments, we are offering extended walk-in hours through December 22. These appointments are 25 minutes long and are usually best for a specific question. In addition to hours offered at the Weingarten Center, there are also hours at the ARCH and Grad Student Center.

  1. Create a master calendar with due dates

While all of your assignment due dates and exam dates are on Canvas or your course syllabi, it is best to put everything in one place so you can have a clear picture of what to expect before the end of the semester. With all of the social events happening in the next few weeks, it is important to put those in as well to create a more realistic schedule for studying. Stop by our office to pick up a December calendar or fill one out with a Learning Instructor!

Staff writer: Cassie Lo


How to Create a Finals Week Study Plan

Want to keep your sanity during finals week? So you have 5 classes this semester with at least 3 final exams and 2 final projects or papers. Need to accomplish them all in 7 days? No problem. There’s a process for you can use to deal with this situation that seems to always sneak up on us every semester.   Here’s a suggested step by step process:

  1. Rank Your classes

Rank your classes according to which one is sooner, which one is more important for your major, and/or which one is harder and needs most of your attention.

2. Break Down the tasks needed to study for each class


This varies for everyone’s needs and for the subjects being tested. For example, some people need to carve out time to skim their class notes, class lecture slides and then need more time to actually practice their knowledge on old midterms or practice problem sets. Make sure you allocate your time wisely, 30/70 is what we recommend: 30% review and 70% practice.

3. Realistically Assign time for each task for each class

Now that you’ve figured out what you need to do for which class, it is now time to figure out the answer to each task: “for how long?” Some people read slower and may need an hour or two just to skim a chapter or notes, others may require less. The recommendation here is to caution against assigning more than 3 hours per task.

4. Plug in all studying tasks in a hourly schedule

So at this point, you got the which subject, what tasks, for how long, and now you need to know when. Try Google Calendar, iCalendar, or for an old school paper schedule template, you can download from our website here. Tip: avoid burn out by being realistic vs. overly ambitious in scheduling. Make sure to switch up the subjects so you don’t overload and keep breaks and meals in the schedule as well! Make you time as visual as possible.

If you would like more support on how to do this, come into Weingarten and a learning instructor would be happy to help!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill

5 Things You Might Not Know About the Weingarten Center

You may already know that the Weingarten Center is a great place to get help with time management or exam prep but here are a few things that you might not know about us.

1.    We can help you set and meet study goals
Although many students aim to get good grades in their courses, a general goal such as “I study-skillswant to get an A in this course” might be too abstract to be helpful. Setting more specific study goals is a great way to increase motivation and stay focused. For example, your goal might be to solve five econ problems per study session or to write three pages of an essay by Monday. Meeting these specific and more manageable goals will keep you moving along. We can help you identify realistic study goals and stay accountable for the goals you set. So, if you set a goal to write three pages of that paper by Monday, we can set up an appointment to meet on Monday or Tuesday to review your draft together or just have a check-in meeting.  Many students find that a scheduled meeting gives them an extra push to get that draft done.

Study-Partners-FTR-TS-1494018362-340x3402.    You can come to an appointment with a study or project partner
Not all studying or projects are done alone. You may be assigned a partner for a class project, or have a regular study partner for a specific course. You are more than welcome to bring these classmates with you when you come in. We can discuss strategies for group work or group study. Or maybe you and a classmate just happen to have the same question and want to come in together. We’re happy to help you both at the same time. As a bonus, you can then help each other remember what was said at the appointment.
3.    You can rehearse a presentation for us and get feedbackrehearsal.jpg
When it comes to giving a class presentation, practice is key. You never want just to wing it. Rehearsing your presentation not only helps you get your timing down, but it also helps you increase your overall confidence. Rehearsing on your own is good. Rehearsing in front of another person is even better. A live audience can give you feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of your presentation, particularly regarding clarity, organization, and delivery. If your roommates or friends aren’t willing to sit and listen to your presentation, know that you can always rehearse it for us. Bring your laptop and run through your slides. Ask us questions. We’ll give you feedback. Or we’ll ask you questions to help you prepare for a Q&A session.

4.    You can use our whiteboards
Have you been looking for a place to study with access to a whiteboard? Well, look no further. We have a large whiteboard in our study lounge and a smaller one in our computer lab for your use. All our learning instruction rooms have whiteboards too. We’ve seen students use the whiteboards to create concept maps, outline topics, and talk through ideas or problems. What’s more, a great study strategy is to teach what you’re learning to someone else. This strategy helps you pinpoint what you know and what you don’t know. So, stand in front of the whiteboard and teach us something when you come in for an appointment. We’re always happy to learn new things.Whiteboard.png
5.    Our walk-in hours are held at three locations on campus
For those days when a walk over to the Weingarten Center seems like too much, it’s good to know you have options. In addition to our walk-in hours at the Weingarten Center (12 noon – 3 pm, Monday to Friday and also 4-7 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), we also have walk-ins at the Arch and the Graduate Student Center. Walk-ins at the Arch are on select Fridays only from 12 noon – 2 pm. Upcoming Arch walk-ins will be held on April 15 and April 22. Our walk-in hours at the Graduate Student Center focus on graduate-level writing. They are held on Mondays from 1-4 pm, and you can sign up in advance here.

Staff Writer: Julianne Reynolds

Tech Tuesday: Coggle, A Mind Mapping App

Mind maps are a great tool for not only organizing your arguments and ideas for a paper or presentation, but also for organizing information you need to know as a way to study for an exam. Consider mind maps as a way to neatly and visually organize all the information you need or want on topics. Coggle is a free website where this can be done. Here are the benefits of using this platform:

  • it’s always free
  • do real-time collaboration on a project with a partner or group. Partners can comment and chat. Track changes are available (like Google Docs)
  • upload PDFs or images to include in your mind map
  • it’s user friendly. You don’t have to know complicated features to use it or to create stunning visual mind maps
  • download the mind maps for studying later,  or include in a paper, or print out for presentations
  • easily share your mind map with others

Check out these sample Coggle mind maps!



For more information or practice on how to use it, come into the Weingarten Learning and Resources Center anytime!

Staff Writer: Victoria Gill



How to Make the Most of Office Hours

Office hours: It’s that thing listed underneath the professor’s contact information on the syllabus, the thing we all glance at to make a note of, but rarely take advantage of. Meeting a professor during their office hours can be intimidating, but if utilized correctly, it can be a goldmine of a resource. Here are just a few quick tips on how to make the most of your office hour sessions:

  1. (unless specifically asked to) Don’t go just to go. Set a purpose to your meeting. Be prepared to ask open ended questions or get clarification on a certain class topic while you’re in front of the professors. Make sure you aren’t asking the kinds of questions that could have been easily answered elsewhere; i.e. Google, a peer, the class syllabus, or the readings. office-hours

2. Do show up early. By arriving 5 minutes before office hours start, it’ll give you a better chance of meeting with the professor first. This way, you can make sure your questions are answered instead of having to wait around, looking for the best time to interrupt another student.

3. Do be honest. Don’t be coy if the professor is talking about something and you don’t quite understand. Admit to it and you’ll get an even better or different explanation. Also, don’t make excuses for your performance or go in attacking the professor. If there are issues academically, professionally, or personally occurring in your life, let you professor know. They are human too and they will understand and work with you to best accommodate or resolve the issue. montreal-que-february-3-2015-mcgill-university-profess

For more support on how to make the most of your office hours, come set an appointment with a learning instructor and we will work with you individually to prep you for a meeting with your professor!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill

White Board: a study strategy

Final examinations are here and you’ve already read books, notes, and class lectures slides. But how much did you actually retain? What other ways can you study? A great strategy to test your knowledge would be to do a white board activity. This includes having a white board or simply a blank sheet of paper, and writing at the top or the center the main ideas or topics you are to be tested on, then writing down every single piece of information or knowledge you have on the topic. Doing this activity forces you to dig deep, to come face to face with what you do know and more importantly, what you don’t know.

Here is a sample suggestion on how to chunk your studying while implementing this activity:


Let’s say you take a week to study per subject. On the first day of said studying, you can just focus on re-reading notes, lectures, books, and skimming for main ideas. Day 2, you can take active notes on all the reviewing. Day 3 can be focused on trying out practice problems on certain topics you’re weak in and applying the knowledge you’ve learned. On Day 4 you could do the white board activity, and make notes of what you still need to learn and follow that up with Day 5 of actually filling in the gaps of knowledge by reviewing again and doing problems/questions in that needed area.

Happy Studying! Come into Weingarten for more learning or studying strategies!

Staff Writer: Victoria Gill

Notes from a Long-Time Student: StayFocusd


In a previous post I talked about the app SelfControl. The Learning Instructors at Weingarten and I love SelfControl. The only downside to the app is that it is only available for iOS users. However, there are other great apps that work for both Mac and Windows powered computers that serve the purposes of, and may even surpass, SelfControl. One of these innovations is StayFocusd, a Google Chrome add-on that promotes productivity by limiting the amount of time you spend on distracting sites. Ranked at 4.5 stars by 4,048 users as of this week, StayFocusd is a promising feature for anyone looking to–you guessed it– stay focused.

So, how exactly does StayFocusd increase your productivity? In a nutshell, StayFocusd allows you to set usage time caps–weekly and daily–for specific sites. As you can see from the image below, the “Max Time Allowed” function of the program allows you to set a cap for the time you’re allowed to browse the sites you’ve indicated on your Blocked Sites list. This is a great feature for those of us that would like to continue to be social, on social media, for example but would rather not spend any more than 20 minutes per day.


StayFocusd doesn’t only allow you to limit your time on sites on a daily basis, it also allows you to pre-program those settings for different days of the week. Say you don’t have class on Thursdays and want to allow yourself a little more virtual social time, simply unclick Thursday from your “Active Days.” Now, your blocked site settings will apply every day of the week, except Thursdays.
If that’s not enough to keep you focused, you can try to limit the time frame during which your pre-allotted time on the sites is available for use with the “Active Hours” function. This function is super easy to set up and is precise up to the minute.


If you find that your settings are still not quite working the way you’d like them to and you need to stay away from additional sites for even longer periods of time you can use “The Nuclear Option.” This function sounds a lot more intimidating than it is in reality. Independent of your “Active Hours” and “Active Days” settings, The Nuclear Option will block/allow the sites you indicate for a specific amount of time. Once you click “NUCKE ‘EM!” there is no going back, until your timer runs out. This is a great function because you are also able to schedule these blocks/allowances ahead of time.


Now, all of these functions are great but what if you absolutely have to go back to one of the sites that you’ve blocked? You can request a challenge! Challenges essentially ask you to complete a more or less tedious task in order to change your settings. Below is an example of what you may be asked to complete.


Perhaps the only downside to StayFocusd is that it is directly linked to Google Chrome. However, this partnership also makes the add-on very accessible; the logo shows up on your browser and is easily available for changes. To test out StayFocusd, I used it to schedule my virtual time online throughout the week, and it worked seamlessly.

Add-ons and apps like StayFocusd and SelfControl are great at promoting efficiency and productivity throughout the school year. However, remember that the internet is only one source of distractions. Be conscious of where you are working, when, with whom, and your study habits. If you would like to discuss how these features can work for you schedule an appointment with a Learning Instructor at Weingarten.

Staff Writer: Erica Saldívar García