If you’re new to the quarter system, you may be surprised that you are already approaching your first midterm exams. Some of you may even have some this week!

There are many ways to study for exams. If you already have a system that works for you, that’s fantastic! If you’re interested in some new ideas and tips, read on and we’ll walk you through some recommendations.

1. Review your syllabus for exam dates, proctoring requirements, points awarded (what percentage of your class grade) and format (essay, multiple choice, etc.). If you are unclear on any of these, reach out to your instructor or TA for clarification early. You’ll want to make sure they have enough time to respond, and you still have time to take action based on what you hear back.

2. Develop a study plan for each exam. Determine what resources you’ll need, many many days/weeks you have to prepare, and about how much additional time you’ll need to plan for on top of weekly course requirements to fit in exam preparation.  Check out the exam preparation worksheet and the 7 day study plan for some ideas on engaging with this process.

* if you are using a proctor, make sure you know when to be at the location, how to get there, where to park, where the building is located, what materials you can bring, etc.

3. Engage with the material in active and variable ways. This is an important part of the memory and recall process. While reading and reviewing notes is important, incorporating additional methods will help with retaining the information. You can create your own study guide or outline if one isn’t provided, create and use note cards, complete the practice questions in your textbook, and/or teach someone else about what you are learning. Review the Active Studying worksheet for some ideas.

4. Organize a study group. Although you might not be in the same town as your classmates, study groups are still an option! If you haven’t yet, check out the student page on Google Apps for OSU (Links to an external site.). Google Hangouts (Links to an external site.) is a great option for holding virtual study sessions, and all students can log in with their ONID email. Need some ideas on how to make the most of a study group? Take some tips from the Academic Success Center on How to Conduct a Successful Study Group.

5. Take care of yourself! Managing stress, getting enough sleep, and other self-care items go a long way in exam performance. Pulling an “all-nighter” isn’t likely to improve your test scores, and isn’t recommended. Check out our Ecampus Student Success blog post on Beating the stresses of exams.

The video below take a more thorough look at test preparation, and discusses some ideas for incorporating exam review into your daily study habits as an ongoing process.

If you have an exam in the next day or two that you’re feeling unprepared for, read over some recommendations for Emergency Studying (Links to an external site.). Do your best, and think about how you can take a more proactive approach for your next exam.

Strong time management is perhaps one of the most important skills that online learners need to be at their best. You have likely seen and heard the 2-3 hour rule by now. For an average online student taking 8 credits, that is up to 24 hours per week. Take some time to develop a strategy if you haven’t already. Consider the following questions:

  • What are my other commitments and priorities, and how do I work around those?
  • What days and times will be the best for dedicated studying?
  • What are some things I may be able to adjust, and what are set in stone?
  • Who can I ask for help when I need a hand juggling it all?

Your syllabus will give you the most information up front about course expectations and commitments, and should be reviewed thoroughly at the start of each class.

One of our favorite tools is the Term at a Glance Calendar. As you go through your syllabi, mark down due dates and deadlines for all of your courses. Having everything in one place will help to plan ahead for weeks that will be busier than others, and this makes a great addition to your study space for quick reference.

The video below will give you some good things to consider as you adjust to online learning and develop your own prioritization and time management techniques.


This list provides some additional tools and worksheets. Take some time to explore and see what might be helpful for you.


term_at_a_glance.pdfView in a new window

Weekly Task List.docxView in a new window

prioritization_3_methods.pdfPreview the documentView in a new window


Week Plan


Canvas mobile app for IoS

Canvas mobile app for Android



Don’t miss out on this chance to chat with OSU participants from all around the world! Share your experiences, exchange career tips and build your professional network — all online, from any device.

Our online, cloud-based platform makes it easy and fun for you to participate. After signing in from your home, office, smartphone or tablet, you’ll participate in 1-on-1 chats with other attendees. The chats are text-based and timed, allowing you to quickly meet new people, exchange contact information, and walk away with several new connections you didn’t have before. Each chat is saved, making it simple to look back at your history, review your notes, gather contact information and follow up.

Here are some ideas on how to get the conversation started:

  • What suggestions do you have to improve my civilian resume?:
  • What do you do professionally?
  • What suggestions do you have for civilian success?
  • Can I ask for your advice on ____?
  • If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?

Don’t wait, register now to attend!

January 26, 2017 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST)


Bradley Fuster, special assistant to the provost for innovative learning at SUNY Buffalo State, recently contributed an article to US News & World Report discussing the proper etiquette when talking with instructors online. Although there are numerous situations when you would communicate with an instructor online, these are just a handful of possible scenarios.


• Ask questions, but make sure they are good, thoughtful questions: Questions about subject content are generally welcomed. Before asking questions about the course design, scour the syllabus and learning management system information to be sure the answer isn’t hiding in plain sight.

• Participate in discussion forums, blogs and other open-ended forums for dialogue: That’s what they are for. Be sure to stay on topic online-successand not digress into irrelevant personal stories, offer too much information or use the class as your own personal soapbox or diary. Make a point, and make it safe for others to do the same.

• Be polite: The rules of common courtesy certainly extend to online courses, but remember that online professors get a lot of emails, so there is no need to send an email just to say “thanks.”

• Use an online instructor as a reference: Be sure to ask professors for permission to list them as a reference, and find out what contact information they prefer. If a letter of recommendation is being requested, be sure to provide the professor with all of the details, a resume and at least one month of lead time prior to the deadline.


• Send a friend request to your professor on social media: It puts the professor in an awkward position and can disrupt a healthy student-teacher barrier.

• Share personal information, stories, or life drama: If assignments are missed or you are in need of a deadline extension, simply explain the situation to the professor. If more detail or documentation is needed, they will ask. Professors are not trained counselors, nurses, financial aid experts, dating gurus or BFFs.

 • Openly vent frustrations about a professor or class: Everyone has taken a not-so-great class at one time or another. When students take to social media and blast professors, the language used ultimately says more about the student. If there is truly a concern about a professor’s professionalism or ability, be sure to use online course evaluations to calmly and articulately offer feedback. If the course concerns are so immediate and significant that they can’t wait, contact a department chair or dean and make an appointment to express concern.

• Use emoticons, tell jokes or use sarcasm in writing or email communication: Keep writing scholarly, professional and topical. Sarcasm rarely translates to the written word, and it’s difficult for a professor to infer tone of voice from writing.

When communicating with your instructor online be sure to be timely, topical, professional and kind.

As you begin preparing for FINALS WEEK, here are some tips and tricks that will make your studying more effective.  BuzzFeed Staff, Australia has compiled a list of ways to best utilize your time while preparing for final exams. Good luck!

Keep a big bottle or jug of water by your table.

Keep a big bottle or jug of water by your table.

If you only have a glass of water, you’ll find yourself taking a heap of breaks to refill your glass. If you have the water with you, you’ll be more focused.

Try turning your phone on airplane mode.

.Try turning your phone on airplane mode.

Michelle Rennex / BuzzFeed

As notifications pop up on your phone, you stop studying to read them. Eight hours later, you’re deep into your Instagram feed with zero work done. So just pop it on airplane mode for a while to keep you distraction-free.

Create a guide of what to study and when.

Create a guide of what to study and when.
@universitymotivation / Via instagram.com

Planners are a good way to map out which subjects you should study and for how long. Planning it out helps you not feel too overwhelmed by everything you need to do.

Stick important bits of information you need to remember in places that you look at often.

Stick important bits of information you need to remember in places that you look at often.
@journeytomedschool / Via instagram.com

Put up need-to-know information like formulas, dates, and legislation on walls that you find yourself looking at all the time. Stick the notes in places you frequent often, like your bedroom and bathroom, to force yourself to read them.

Use different colored highlighters, but only to highlight the important things.

Use different coloured highlighters, but only to highlight the important things.
@studysmart_ / Via instagram.com

Different colors for different themes and ideas will help you remember things at first glance when you go to revise them. Also highlighting as little as possible means you’re most likely to retain the most important information.

Reward yourself after certain periods of studying.

Reward yourself after certain periods of studying.
@catalinacaring / Via instagram.com

Maybe it’s a cube of chocolate after reading every three paragraphs, or perhaps an episode of your favorite show after two hours of studying. Either way, giving yourself something to work towards will make you more motivated to get there.

Use Post-It notes to jot down information you’re having a tough time remembering.

Use Post-It notes to jot down information you're having a tough time remembering.
@studyisa / Via instagram.com

If you write down the information and stick it somewhere you always see, you’ll start consuming it more. The more you consume it, the more likely you’ll be to remember it.

Or place your concise study notes up on your desk wall at eye level.

Or place your concise study notes up on your desk wall at eye level.
@medicineandchill / Via instagram.com

Having your notes at eye level works because you end up looking at them when you don’t even realize. You’re more likely to retain information that you see every day.

Schedule a solid block of sleep in your study plans.

Schedule a solid block of sleep in your study plans.
@slipsilkpillowcase / Via instagram.com

While the concept of an all-nighter may seem appealing, the more tired you are the worse your memory will be. Aim for a good eight hours to ensure that your body is well-rested and your mind is alert.

Where possible, try to handwrite your notes.

Where possible, try to handwrite your notes.
@blossom_letters / Via instagram.com

Handwriting your notes helps you remember what you’re writing as you do them. If writing out chunks of text isn’t your style, try writing out flash cards and using them to study.

But if you are typing instead of writing out your notes, use the font Times New Roman.

But if you are typing instead of writing out your notes, use the font Times New Roman.
@megaprintmakers / Via instagram.com

Although Times New Roman is pretty close to Comic Sans on the levels of “bad to look at fonts”, it is one of the fastest fonts to read.

Don’t listen to music you know and love.

Don't listen to music you know and love.
@selinersss / Via instagram.com

If you love a song, chances are you know all the lyrics and subconsciously you’re thinking about the next lyric before it even plays. Try instrumental music, or songs you don’t often listen to, to help clear your mind.

And never feel guilty for taking a break.

And never feel guilty for taking a break.
@bookloverbutslowreader / Via instagram.com

You can’t be switched on all the time. You need to give your brain a break and a little time to wind down. Don’t overexert yourself!

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/michellerennex/study-af?utm_term=.gvg6BXQpPd#.ppow41r2jY

Looking to find a way to relax and recharge? Here are a collection of apps from the OSU-Cascades Student Success Center to help.

iPhone Apps: Meditation/Relaxation/Mindfulness

  • Bloom – Reminders to make healthy choices, stay connected with others, manage stress, strengthen your spirit, save money, advance your career, and enhance your creativity.
  • Breathe2Relax – Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing
  • Daily Body Scan – This is a stand-alone iPod ready audio track featuring expert contributor Stephen Cope from Wild Divine the makers of Relaxing Rhythms
  • Equanimity – App times mediation and provides mindfulness practice sessions.
  • Fluid Monkey – Relax as you enjoy interacting with incredibly smooth and responsive pools of liquid. Use all ten fingers to smear paint, jiggle gelatin, or fling brightly-colored balls through puddles of mud
  • iQuarium – Chill out while watching your Parrot Cichlid fish swimming in its tank, feed it, play with it, interact with it
  • Panic Attack Aid – Contains tools for breathing, explanation of physical symptoms, and distraction exercises
  • Relax Melodies – white noise ambience for sleep, meditation & yoga
  • Simply Being Guided Meditation – Voice guided step-by-step instructions for meditation and relaxation
  • Simply Yoga – Contains 20, 40, or 60 minute yoga routines that step you through each pose. Each pose is demonstrated by a certified personal trainer, simply choose your workout length and follow along in the comfort of your own home
  • Sleep Machine – Ambient noise application
  • Transform Your Life: A Year of Awareness Practice by Cheri Huber – inspirational quotes, encouragement, and daily assignments supporting awareness practice focused on compassionate self-acceptance

Android Apps: Meditation/Relaxation/Mindfulness

  • Breathe2Relax – Diaphragmatic breathing application
  • Buddhist Meditation Trainer – Personal trainer for relaxing and enlightening meditation. It features 10 levels of enlightenment with deeper quotes to meditate on in every level, all with a simple to use meditation timer.
  • Calming Music to Tranquilize – Calming Music to Tranquilize is a light music collection providing relaxing experiences through the balance and harmony in the Chinese Tai Chi way of meditation.
  • Daily Body Scan – This is a stand-alone iPod ready audio track featuring expert contributor Stephen Cope from Wild Divine the makers of Relaxing Rhythms
  • Easy Relax – Ambient noise application (i.e. white noise, waves crashing, rainforest, etc.)
  • iQuarium – Chill out while watching your Parrot Cichlid fish swimming in its tank, feed it, play with it, interact with it
  • Lightening-Bug Sleep Clock – Ambient noise sleep app.
  • Meditation Helper – A meditation timer which allows you to set a target for the length of time you want to meditate each day. It includes a widget that displays the number of consecutive days you have hit the target. It is thus useful not only as a timer, but also as a tool to help motivate you to meditate regularly.
  • Music Therapy for Refreshment – Medium Speed Alpha Wave (10Hz) set in 5 melodic music pieces provides a most relaxing way to restore your vigor, to bring about a refreshed mind.
  • Qi Gong Meditation Relaxation – Improve your physical health, relax and reduce your stress by learning Qi Gong, gentle movement combined with breathing
  • Relax and Sleep – Choose and mix from over 35+ ambient sounds which incl. thunder and white noise.
  • Relax Completely – free hypnosis session for deep relaxation
  • Relax Melodies – Relaxing noises and animations
  • Relaxing Sounds – Create your own relaxing sounds by combining sounds
  • Simply Being Guided Meditation – Voice guided step-by-step instructions for meditation and relaxation
  • Stop Panic and Anxiety – Used as a dysfunctional thought record diary; contains relaxation audio (guided imagery and PMR) and psychoeducation on panic and anxiety
  • Stress Reduction – Contains relaxation and PMR audio
  • White Noise – White Noise Lite provides ambient sounds of the environment to help you relax or sleep.
  • Yoga Workout Planner – A comprehensive yoga app embedded with animated yoga classes. Positions are shown in animations.
  • YogaPedia – provides nearly 100 unique yoga positions, tips and information

kevin-mccalister-scream1Juggling school, life and work is a challenge for many online learners. When you combine being an online learner and the stress of the holidays, it can become overwhelming. There are ways to stay on track to find balance between school and the holidays without losing your mind. While using the same skills and techniques that make online learners successful, you can manage online learning and the holidays to create a place that works for both. The key is finding balance during this stressful time of the year.

Schedule Your Work Time

Keep your schedule updated! This will keep you focused and on task. Build your holiday parties and get-togethers around your academics. Be aware of upcoming due dates and holiday get-togethers that may conflict with your academics. Prioritize the holiday events in your life so you make take the time to do research for your paper or to complete assignments.

Take Advantage of Downtime

One of the greatest things about being an online student is you can work from anywhere at any time. The holidays can provide some unexpected downtime, most of which can be used in your favor. With holiday travel, shopping lines and last second changes to your schedule or others, there are opportunities to check in on your school work. You can utilize apps on your phone or tablet to submit work, ensure you have completed assignments, check in on your calendar for upcoming due dates or post in a discussion board.

It’s OK To Say No!

Know when it’s too much! Be mindful not to overextend yourself with requests from friends and family over the holidays. Keep them informed of your academic schedule and due dates. You might not be able to commit to all of your invitations, especially when they conflict with your upcoming due dates. Family and friends will be more accepting when you politely decline invitations when they are aware of school commitments.

Take Breaks

Take periodic breaks from school to charge back up. Spending all of your time on your studies can add more stress to what can be a stressful time of year. Find a quiet place for yourself where you can relax and take a deep breath, unplug from your school, clear your mind and “just be” where your feet are. There are a variety of wellness apps that promote wellness and relaxation.

Impacts On Other’s Schedules

Be aware of University closures and holiday schedules. Your instructor and University staff will be unavailable to answer your questions since they too will be spending time with their families. Be sure to reach out to your instructor prior to the holiday to ensure you get a timely response.

Enjoy The Holidays

Don’t ignore school, but it’s the perfect time step back and enjoy this time of the year. Share time with family and friends and enjoy the holiday traditions!