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Welcome to Learning Development & Success

Learning Skills LogoAs part of the Student Experience portfolio, the Learning Development and Success team offers resources and supports to all students at Western. Counsellors and staff members help students cope with the demands of post-secondary learning, helping to identify strengths and develop new skills and strategies for success.  Counsellors also work with students to alleviate academic stress and anxiety, and to develop positive motivation and confidence toward learning.  This service is available for successful students wanting to maintain their already strong skills and those having academic difficulties.




Looking for help with your courses this term? Virtual PAL has got you covered! 



Questions about learning online? Drop-in every Thursday, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM, to have your questions answered! 

Learning Resources:

Listed below are some resources to help you achieve your best. Check back often as we continue to share more resources! 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My Prof hasn't said if the content on the final exam will be cumulative or not.  What should I study?

Review any emails from your professors or messages on your Owl Course Forum. If you cannot find this information, then contact your professor to clarify this as soon as possible. It’s important to know what course content will be covered on an exam and is testable.

2. What should we do if our wifi cuts out during an exam?

To be prepared for any tech failures, it is a good idea to:

• Check your Wi-Fi connection before you begin your exam.

• If you experience tech issues, contact your instructor right away. Include a screenshot of whatever you’ve completed as well as any error message you may have received.

• If you have had a history of difficulties with your wifi at home, alert your professor to this prior to writing the exam. It could help your professor understand if there are any time outs in your exam.

3. Where can I find help with my learning and academics? I feel stressed!

Learning Development & Success is offering appointments remotely to students. To book an appointment, please email learning@uwo.ca or call 519 661 2183.

4. I’ve never taken an online exam before….any advice to help me prepare? Do I study the same way I would normally?

Probably the biggest misconception about online open-book exams is that there is no need to study. You should study just as you would for any other exam. Having books and notes to refer to might mean you don't have to memorize as much information, but you still need to be able to apply it effectively.

Consider making summary notes to capture key information from your lectures ...in math and science courses, this could mean creating a summary sheet of key formulas needed for the exam or a summary of key chemical reactions and reaction mechanisms. By doing this, you are creating a ‘quick reference’ type guide that you can refer to if you get stuck on a question or concept.

If you choose to create a summary sheet it should be in addition to or as part of the preparation you do for the exam...you still need to prepare as you would for any other exam.

Click here for more information on Study Strategies.


5. What are some strategies to study for an essay exam?

Structure your class materials so that you can easily understand how concepts and information are related to one another. You can do this by creating a mind map that summarizes the concepts you’ve learned or develop a list of larger themes that you’ve learned in the course and break these themes down into smaller sub-themes. Arrange an online chat with a friend and teach them the material you’ve learned. These strategies are all examples of ways you can help to improve your understanding of the course material and will allow you to more effectively apply this course knowledge on the exam.

When reviewing the main concepts, attempt to predict likely test questions that you may be expected to answer on the exam. Sometimes, your professors will even give you hints about potential questions! Once you’ve accumulated a few questions, practice creating an essay outline that you would use to respond to the question.

Practice answering essay questions of the “apply”, “analyze”, “synthesize”, “compare/contrast” and “evaluate” type. Understand what these terms mean and reflect on questions that could be asked using these terms.

6. What are some things I can do to prepare for an open-book exam?

You need to study for open-book exams just as you would for any exam - structure your material, check for comprehension, and practice recalling and using the material. If you know your subject, you'll have a solid knowledge base to draw on. You will also understand how and why topics are linked. Other things you will want to do in advance of your online open-book exam include:

• Find out from your instructor exactly what you are allowed – and not allowed – to use on the exam, and make sure you follow the rules. • Find out if you need to cite sources in your answers.

• Organize your resources so that you can find the information you need efficiently, without wasting time during the exam. Please note that this does not mean that you rely on “finding” the answers during your exam, but instead you can use course materials to back up or clarify your understanding.

• Choose a quiet space to write your exam and minimize distractions/interruptions.

7. How long should I study for an exam?

This one is hard because it isn’t about the amount of time but the effectiveness/good use of time. You can “put in” 6 hours of studying ineffectively and not do as well as someone that puts in 3 hours of effective study time. Okay, maybe something like that is our response. This depends...how comfortable are you with the course material so far? Are you caught up in the course? If you have missed lectures or do not understand certain topics than you should plan to spend some time catching up on any missed or difficult material. Here are some things to consider: 

• Make sure you understand what course content is testable (is it cumulative?)

• Make a list of all of the topics that you need to study in order to be effectively be prepared for the exam.

• Consider what types of activities you are going to be doing when learning and reviewing the different course topics. What does active and effective studying look like? For more ideas on this, you can refer to Learning Development Resources Preparing for Exams.

• Then..think about how much time will it realistically take you to complete these learning and studying activities? Assign approximate time estimates to get a sense of long it might take you to work through all of course content. It’s always better to over-estimate how much time it will take along the way...things always take longer than we plan.

• Don’t forget to build in time to complete any needed practice problems/questions or past exams if they have been provided by your instructor.

Strategies that can help you make the most of your time: Improving Concentration.

8. There's so much going on. How can I stay motivated to do well on exams?

Plant your feet on the ground, take a nice, deep breath, and ask yourself, “What is my goal for this exam/course?” “What do I hope to achieve?” “Why did I sign up for this course?” Ideally, somewhere in your response to those questions, you can find your motivation to study and prepare for your exams. Other tips, find a great space to study in, remove distractions, and take breaks. There are additional resources on our website learning.uwo.ca regarding motivation that we encourage you to check out.

Click here for more information on Maintaing Motivation.

Check out some music or sounds that can help you focus while reading and studying, here's a popular option: 

9. I really need to do well on my exams. How can I overcome my test anxiety?

Great preparation is the best defense against test anxiety. Find out what you’re responsible to cover on the exam, set up a study schedule, and pace yourself as you work through the content. Giving yourself enough time is important; if you feel rushed, it’s hard to maintain a sense of calm and focus. Also, try to test yourself on the content so you can prove to yourself that you are really ready.

Try to maintain healthy habits in the days leading up to the exam – getting enough sleep and exercise, and staying well-nourished and hydrated will all help your body and mind to feel settled and prepared.

Try to think positively. What would you tell a friend who was worried about a test? Extend those same words of encouragement to yourself.

When you find your mind being distracted by other thoughts or worries, remind yourself that’s ok, it happens to everyone. Focus on what you can control rather than the things you can’t. Gently direct yourself back to your preparation and the exam.

Remember to “Take 5.” When you start to feel anxious, whether it’s while you’re studying or when you’re writing your exam, you can always take a quick break with a few deep breaths. Practice 5 cycles of deep inhales and exhales a few times throughout your study days, and whenever you need to relax during an exam.

Click here for more information on Managing Test Anxiety



Printable Calendars

Want to be more organized? Print a calendar to help manage your time and organize course deadlines.

NEW! Fillable Calendars

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Certificate of Academic Engagement

Learn about our Certificate of Academic Engagement, which is Co-curricular Record eligible.



Read our E-Newsletters containing strategies for academic success: S.T.U.D.Y. - for Undergraduate Students GRADUpdATE - for Graduate Students

Mindful Learning Calendar

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