Learning Skills Services, Student Development Centre

Course Specific Advice from Peers

Check out what your peers have to say! Consider the following course specific strategies for academic success from senior student volunteers in SDC's PAL Centre.

For more strategies from high achieving students, drop by the Help Centre during hours of operation and speak with a student volunteer, or join our OWL site to access the Strategy Bytes Series and view the byte entitled What Worked for Me: Top Strategies from Experienced Students.

Biology 2382 - Cell Biology

  • Multiple-choice exams.
  • Pay close attention to diagrams of pathways and structures! Using these visual aids is a great way to learn course content and they often contain clues to help explain confusing concepts. If printing out your lecture slides, make sure you print them large enough to see the details of the diagrams.

Calvin, 4th year Medical Sciences

  • Make a glossary of terms by topic/chapter as you go through the course because the names of proteins/molecules are very similar to each other. Review your glossary before the exam. (this strategy also given under Genetics, Bio 2581B)

Joon, 4th year Medical Sciences

Biology 2581B - Genetics

  • Make a glossary of terms by topic/chapter as you go through the course because the names of proteins/molecules are very similar to each other. Review your glossary before the exam. (this strategy also given under Cell Biology, Bio 2382B)

Joon, 4th year Medical Sciences

Business 1220E and 2257

  • Do your cases. On average, each case takes 2-4hours to complete. Something you can do to ensure you do your cases for each class is to allot time in your schedule specifically for working on the cases. It is important to not fall behind on the cases because, as each unit progresses, the cases will build on each other. Consistency with doing the cases will help you through this course. It will also help you to see actual or potential trouble spots for you in the cases.
  • While it can be helpful to practice cases with friends, you should try to do cases (especially as the exam gets closer) by yourself in preparation for the exam.
  • Don’t wait till you get to class to make a decision or form your opinions. It’s OK to have different ideas from your professor and classmates.
  • Participate in class. This is the only way to tell whether or not you are on the right track with your work. You can be putting hours and hours of work into doing your cases, but if you never participate in class, you will never know whether your analysis and implications are correct. It is easy to just sit there during class and listen to the discussion and think, “Yeah, I could have gotten that answer too if I had done that,” but it’s easier said than done. One piece of advice a mentor had given me is to participate at least three times per class. Participating really helped me stay engaged and focused in the class, which the lecturer can tell.
  • Do a comprehensive case in four hours. Start with the Finance unit. With your last few cases in the unit, do the case as if it was the actual exam. Find a quiet place where you can work for four hours without distractions, whether that is a study room or the library. Time yourself and see which step you are on at certain points in time. How long does it take you to read over the case? At what time should you finish all of your analysis by? When do you want to start writing your decision? Try setting a general time limit for yourself for each step of the case. Remember, most of your marks will come from the implications you make, not the actual analysis. So be sure not to fall into the trap of analyzing every single case fact and spending too long on analysis. You need to learn how to pick out the most important facts.
  • After completing a case, you may find it helpful to go through it with a buddy. Tell your friend about your analysis, implications and arguments. And let your friend play the devil’s advocate. What that means is to see if they can poke holes in your argument. Was there a big case fact that you missed that would have greatly altered your decision? Was your decision convincing and the best one you could make based on the analysis? Does the decision tie back to the original personal and business goals?
  • When working on the cases, really put yourself into the decision-maker’s shoes. Is this something that they are likely to implement?

Wendy, 2nd year Management and Organizational Studies (MOS), Accounting
Gabrielle, 4th year MOS, Human Resource Management

Calculus 1000/1301/1500

  • It’s good to make summary notes on the subtle differences between questions on a given concept, in addition to doing practice exam questions. (this strategy also given under Chemistry 1301A/1302B)

Joon, 4th year Medical Sciences

Chemistry 1301A/1302B

  • Multiple-choice exams; 1301 is more conceptual; 1302 has more equations.
  • Practice exams are your best friends! Make a plan to do most, if not all, of the practice exams before the exam date. See what topics you have more trouble with and give yourself time to fill in any gaps in your knowledge and/or improve your understanding to ensure you won’t make those mistakes again.
  • Read each question carefully, word-by-word. Cross out any irrelevant information, circle relevant variables and identify what variable they’re actually asking you to solve for.

Calvin, 4th year Medical Sciences

  • It’s good to make summary notes on the subtle differences between questions on a given concept, in addition to doing practice exam questions. (this strategy also given under Calculus 1000/1301/1500)

Joon, 4th year Medical Sciences

Economics 1021A/B and 1022A/B

  • Here are a few things every economics student will need to know: demand, supply, fiscal vs. monetary policy, and the 2 methods of measuring GDP.
  • The exams are heavily textbook based.
  • One of the most valuable things from the lectures is the examples that your professor will provide. Because they will be explained in greater detail, these in-class examples are sometimes easier to understand than the ones in the textbook.
  • Draw the graph! Quickly sketching out the demand/supply graph and its movements and shifts will be much easier than analyzing the changes in your head. Drawing it out will also make it easier on you when you check your work later on.
  • Economics 1021 is very applicable to real life! Once you start connecting with the material on a more regular basis, you will find economic applications everywhere. Can you spot some basic economic principles in how consumers act? Why do certain technological products have such a premium price? Because the demand exists for it to happen!

Wendy, 2nd year Management and Organizational Studies (MOS), Accounting
Gabrielle, 4th year MOS, Human Resource Management

Health Sciences 2300A/B and 3300A/B - Anatomy

  • Be sure to read assigned sections before lecture in order to become familiar with names and functions mentioned in class.
  • Actively review your notes as often as you can, taking special care with understanding diagrams. It is very helpful to use charts and diagrams that you have "blanked out" so that you can test yourself by filling in these blanks.
  • Yet another way to use diagrams in Anatomy would be to post a large copy somewhere you look everyday (above/on your desk, beside your mirror, as a background on your phone) so that it becomes habit to practice and study, as well as subconsciously remember this picture you now view daily!

Lianna, 3rd year Health Studies

MOS 1021A/B and 1023A/B

  • There is a lot of information to commit to memory and a lot of recall questions on the exams.
  • The textbook readings are very important in this course.
  • There are many definition questions on the exam and questions asking: “What are the steps of …” and “What are the (e.g. three) parts of …”
  • Prepare for your lectures! This is a course where reading the chapter(s) prior to the lecture will greatly benefit you and help towards your comprehension of the material.
  • Tie the theory you are learning in class to real life situations. This will help make the material you are learning more real and vibrant and help you remember the details better. For example, if you are studying concepts on human resources and you are trying to remember the advantages and disadvantages of hiring internally vs. externally, think of a company that each scenario would work best for.
  • Due to the nature of the material, study groups work well for this course. Try having everyone read and know the material prior to your group study sessions and then quiz/test each other on some of the more difficult concepts.

Wendy, 2nd year Management and Organizational Studies (MOS), Accounting
Gabrielle, 4th year MOS, Human Resource Management

Physics 1028A/1029B

  • Multiple-choice exams; half conceptual and half equations.
  • Practice problems in the textbook are useful to familiarize yourself with equations and learn to identify variables. Listening to lecture recordings will consolidate concepts and help you think like the professor thinks for some of the less familiar questions.

Calvin, 4th year Medical Sciences

Psychology 1000

  • Multiple-choice exams.
  • Read the textbook chapters and make concise notes. It may be a time consuming process but it counts as studying since you’ll be reading, processing, condensing, and writing all at the same time!

Calvin, 4th year Medical Sciences