Friday, October 17, 2014

Steps on how to De-Stress for an In-Class Exam

by Olympia Georgeson

We all get nervous before an in-class exam, but we can manage the stress by following a few steps.

1) First, you will need to prepare at least a week before your exam. Procrastination increases stress level and therefore decreases memory retention. Prepare by making your materials user-friendly (mark up your books and highlight your notes and essays). Then organize your materials into sections for each study-day because you will absorb information the best if you don’t have an overload of information.

2) In terms of general preparation, get your 8 hours of sleep in. Eat well the night before and morning of the exam by eating proteins and fruits. It is best to avoid an overload of carbohydrates because that will make you sleepy. Ultimately, keep hydrated for mild hydration can weaken cognitive functioning. After reviewing your notes, take a break before the exam.

3) Give yourself time to get to the exam room so that you can go to the bathroom beforehand. Arrive about 10 minutes early to get settled and look over your notes. If needed, practice breathing exercises during or before exam.

4) Once you get the paper of questions, first attempt the questions that you know the best. This will save time and increase your confidence level. When you go back to the questions that are more difficult for you, try your best and don’t leave a question blank. Give yourself 15 minutes at the end to recheck your answers.

5) After your exam, reward yourself at the end. Also, use positive reinforcement: “I did and am doing my best.” The exam is now out of your control, so try not to continue to stress about it.

Heads up! Two upcoming workshops the week of 10/20-24!

Workshops for undergraduate and graduate students this week! (10/20 - 10/24)

Grad workshop this Monday, 10/20:

"Getting Further with Your Research: Electronic Note-taking and Using the Library" 

Graduate Writing Center consultants will present methods and tools for using electronic and library resources to research, organize, and compose. 

When: Monday, 10/20 at 5:30 pm 
Where: GRC (Graduate Research Center) in Bender Library (lower level)
Open to all graduate students, no RSVP required 

Undergraduate workshop this Wednesday, 10/22:

"Keep Calm and Carry On: Writing For Exams" 

This workshop is designed to help students develop skills for timed writing assignments and exams. Key topics include reducing stress, outlining, and revising. Experienced Writing Center consultants will offer tips on how to best survive in-class exams. Students are invited to participate by asking questions.

When: Wednesday 10/22, 3:00-4:00 PM
Where: Training & Events Room (Room 115) in Bender Library (first floor)
Open to all undergraduate students, no RSVP required

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Topic Sentences

By Sarah Johnson 

        “Topic sentences are great.  As the first sentence in a paragraph, this statement, while setting up an idea, is not quite yet a topic sentence.  This first sentence does tell the reader that topic sentences are great, but it doesnt highlight why they are great.  So, what is a topic sentence?  Simply put, a topic sentence is the first sentence of each paragraph in the main body of an essay that tells the reader what that paragraph is about.  Without these sentences, an essays meaning is not quite clear to the reader.
            Topic sentences are important not only because they create a structure for the essay but also because they help the reader understand what each paragraph is really about.  Now that sentence is a topic sentence!  As I begin to qualify that sentence, my reader will already know what point I am going to prove and not worry about digging through my paragraph to find my main point.  Another way to think about a topic sentence is as a mini thesis.  Your essay should already have a main claim or argument; your topic sentences are just mini claims or theses that show what each paragraph is trying to prove or show. 

            Some tips for writing topic sentences:
            Think about topic sentences as you write your draft and, especially, as you re-read and revise your draft.
            Once you finish writing each paragraph, return to your first sentences and compare it to that paragraphs last sentences.  You might find that the last sentence in your paragraph is the topic sentence.
            Avoid observation; try to analyze in your topic sentences.

Friday, October 3, 2014

AKA Grammar Girl

Hanna Mangold
MFA Candidate, 2016

Are you stumped on a grammar question? No matter whether one is a native speaker of English, or just learning the language, most people have asked themselves “is it accept or except?” “how do I use 'whom' and 'who'?” or “what the heck is an oxford comma?” Fear no more! Grammar Girl is here to help. Mignon Fogarty, AKA Grammar Girl, runs a catch-all website for common writing errors ranging from proper comma and apostrophe usage, to tricky verb tense formations (think “lay” and “lie”), and everything in between. Her website is easy to use, and fun to poke around even if you don't have a specific question—there is a lot to learn about internet abbreviations, synonyms, homonyms, misused words, and the ever changing debate on the evolution of the English language.

So, next time you have a couple minutes to surf the internet, use that time to pick up fun facts and helpful hints—you may even find answers to questions you didn't know to ask! Grammar Girl can also be a useful resource if you don't have time to come into the Writing Center, or to resolve the (not so) friendly grammar debates you can often find in the comments sections of websites like YouTube.

Here's the link:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Practicing Patience

By: Emma Lister

You know that moment when you’re standing in line at the grocery store and you’re about ready to lose your cool; it’s late, you worked this morning, had two classes, raced through the grocery store blindly picked out food for the week to avoid the line, still have to finish a paper due tomorrow, and the person in front of you is moving at a snail’s pace – moving one item from the cart to the counter at a time.  This is the express lane.  Let’s MOVE IT.

If you think about, the two to three minutes you are actually delayed has very little impact on your overall day.  It’s more the feeling of slowing down and wasting time than the actual snail-like pace of your fellow grocery store patron.  What’s more, you are the one who allowed yourself to get all worked up over a box of cereal, three oranges, and a loaf of bread.

Writing a paper can work in the same way.  There’s often a feeling of urgency when you write a paper.  This has to get done NOW.  Your to-do list has 12 items and this is only number eight.  Why can you clearly imagine the mucousy trail left behind the opalescent spiral shell of this snail slurping along white and gray matter of your brain, but not define for yourself a succinct and powerful thesis?  WHY?

You’ve given up on patience, chucked it out the window and replaced it with a brown bag and a little hyperventilating.  Writing is a process; something that takes time to work through, whether you are an outline, rough draft, revision writer, or a just-get-it-all-down-and-look-at-it-when-it’s-done writer.  Slow down, let your thoughts congeal and your fingers convey.  Don’t let your negative Nancy feelings rush and overwhelm you.  Practice patience.

Friday, September 19, 2014

For Your Consideration: Sounds for the Writing Environment

by Hannah Williams

As we get to work on brainstorming, writing, and revising essay drafts, I want to ask: does your work environment ever seem all wrong? Perhaps you live in a dorm with a lot of distractions, or the coffee shop is too crowded, or your favorite spot in the library is taken--the variables are endless! It can be hard to find the right amount of quiet--or the right amount of noise--to feel relaxed and ready to take on an assignment. For some, your mindset correlates directly with the ability to actually get some writing accomplished, so the writing environment can be very important.

There are several great online resources with which you can generate the kind of atmosphere that suits you on that particular day. Below, I've shared some links to some of my favorite resources. I believe these resources offer realistic, soothing, and focus-generating sounds. 

So whenever you don't have the time or means to get that setting just right, maybe these can help! 

With Coffitivity, you can choose between "Morning Murmur," "Lunchtime Lounge," and "University Undertones" so that the coffee shop atmosphere becomes customizable! And if you sign up for a premium account, there are even more atmospheres at your fingertips. 

Rainy days mean that you're probably stuck indoors, so you might as well try to get some homework done, right? Here's a way to make that happen any time you want. 

YouTube is a great place to look up atmospheric sounds and pick the right one for you. Here's a great example of simple, pleasant sounds. 

Happy writing! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

We've Got Grammar!: Plurals and Articles Workshop

Ever wondered...

  • Why can I say "a research study" but not "a research"?
  • Why can you give me "pieces of advice" but not "advices"?
  • Why are English articles -- a, and, the -- so hard to learn?
We at the Writing Center will tackle those questions and more at our Plurals and Articles Workshop, our second workshop of the semester. Come by the Training and Events Room on the first floor of Bender Library from 3-4 PM on Tuesday, April 8th. Get those tricky grammar questions answered!