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Fretting An Exam? Know Your Available Study Resources

It’s a familiar story: Your exam is tomorrow, and you haven’t been to class. Or you have been to class, but you were staring at your phone the whole time. Maybe you were actually listening, but the professor managed to make the somewhat interesting material as dull as the campus snap story on Spring Break. Or the most heartbreaking reason, you were actively listening to the interesting material, but just could not grasp it. Regardless of your excuse, there are a few resources to help your unfortunate scenario, and some are more costly than others. 

Option One: Office Hours or Email

If you do not know the class material, the simplest way to get back on track is speaking with your professor. Shoot them an email, or head to their office hours, because chances are they are more than willing to help. They are required to sit in their office for a few hours a week and other students often never show up.

The Price: Free of charge, but admitting to a professor that you waited until the last minute to get help for an exam? That might cost you your pride and dignity.

When To Use This Option: This only works if you have a few questions about the class material before the exam. If you expect the professor to explain months worth of work to you, you should move on to the options.

Option Two: On-Campus Tutoring

On-campus tutoring is an often overlooked facility here in State College. Penn State Learning offers one-on-one or small group tutoring on a variety of subjects. From accounting, to language, to your required CAS course, this resource could save your grade. You can make an appointment online, or can drop in at one of the different tutoring locations for help. One of the upsides of Penn State Learning is that your tutor is a Penn State student and not an outside hire. Many of the tutors have taken the class you need tutoring in, and can explain the material to you in layman’s terms.

The Price: You will not be asked to pay money, but you will probably have to pay with your time. During midterms or finals, tutoring centers are packed with students looking for help. It might take a half hour or more before a tutor frees up to help you. But that’s a pretty small price to pay for a passing exam grade.

When To Use This Option: Not unlike seeing your professor during office hours, these tutors can only help you for a certain period of time. Drop-in tutoring sessions last around a half hour, and appointments last one hour. Use this resource if you need help on one or two concepts, but not an entire unit. 

Option Three: Nittany Notes

Nittany Notes online offers class notes from various Penn State courses. Taken by a student in the course, the notes are formatted in an organized manner that are easy to read. The notes are best for substituting straightforward and fact-based classes, like Math 034 or Econ 104. In a course like Classics or Art History, they might not be as helpful, but informative regardless. Students are offered exam packets, which cover what will appear on the upcoming exam, or semester packets. Exam packs also come with a practice exam, which can help a student understand what type of information might appear on their upcoming test. Nittany Note takers often have higher-than-average GPAs, but that doesn’t mean they’re experts in their courses. While they can be very helpful study aids every now and then, the notes are often inaccurate or as bare as the professors slides.

The Price: A semester’s worth of notes can cost up to $32, and an exam pack costs $10 — but the notes can only be accessed online and can not be printed. For a larger cost, you can go to the Nittany Notes office downtown, and pay for a printed version of the notes under the understanding that you will not share them with your classmates.

When To Use This Option: The downtown offices are open until seven on weeknights, and their online payment provides the notes immediately. If you have really put off studying until 3 a.m. the morning of the exam, Nittany Notes is your guy. It is also a great option if need a refresher on old information but do not need help from a tutor.

Option Four: Lion Tutors

Lion Tutors is a tutoring service located downtown that offers weekly reviews, exam reviews, study guides and private tutoring for a variety of courses. Weekly reviews consist of small-group tutoring where students review the information from class that week, and an exam review session is a three-to-four hour crash course that covers the upcoming exam material, taught in a small lecture class. Much like Nittany Notes, Lion Tutors also sells study guides, except the notes are compiled by a tutor and not a student. Lion Tutors also offers private tutoring with students.

The Price: Weekly reviews cost $100-120 for an exam unit, and $299 per semester, an exam crash courses session is $50, a study guide is $30 per exam, and private tutoring is $30-50 an hour.

When To Use This Option: Use this option if you just got your paycheck. This resource is pretty expensive, and a lot of students have already picked up day jobs just to support their drinking habits. The service is comprehensive, reliable and has consistently satisfied students, but not everyone has that type of money to spend.

Last Resort: Fail The Exam

For whatever reason, none of the previous options are viable and it looks like a D or even F is in your near future.

The Price: RIP your GPA. Hopefully you still have some late drop credits left to spend.

When To Use This Option: There is no wrong time to stare failure in the face and let it win. It is the noble fight Penn State students are all too familiar with. Try not to get too upset over it. You’ll get ’em next time, bud.

About the Author

Claire Marchon

Contributor for Onward State, from the San Fransisco, Bay Area. I am probably the biggest Simon & Garfunkel fan you've ever met; I might also be the only Simon & Garfunkel fan under 50 you've ever met. Either way I think it is very important you know I love Simon & Garfunkel.

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