September 19, 2016

Reflect: How are you doing?

By Marybeth Norcross

At this point, most students are about halfway to mid-term exams, making it a good time to look at how the semester is going. How is your academic performance? Have you set yourself up for success? What about your study skills and test scores? If you aren’t where you hoped to be, it’s probably a good idea to reflect on how well what you are doing is working for you.

Realistic Goals

word cloud image about goalsGoals provide structure to your academic life. They help you focus on what’s important and ignore other distractions. Are you on track to meet your semester goals? If you are, then you probably don’t need to change anything. If not, then you will probably want to consider some changes.

Are your goals achievable? If not, you’ll need to revise them. If, on reflection, your goals are realistic, ask yourself if you you have planned adequately to achieve them. You may need to change some of your habits, like how you manage your time, or try sharpening your study skills. Often, our goals require us to change how we work to achieve them.

Maybe you haven’t consciously set goals for yourself. If that’s the case, I strongly encourage you to make the time to do so. Goal setting should be part of your academic preparation. Without specific and realistic goals, you will find yourself making random decisions you may regret. You can find more information about goals setting on our post, Setting Academic Goals.

Organization and Time Management

I know I’ve said this repeatedly, but the fact is that success at UAMS is dependent on organization and time management. It’s hard to keep up with multiple courses, projects, exams, and family, friends and, often, a job. Are you actively managing your time? Do you know where you are in every assignment? You may need to change the way you manage your time. Learn more by reading Time Management and Organize and Manage Your Time on this blog. You can also find resources to help you under the Time Management tab on our Learning Support page.

Study Skills

picture of a textbook and glasses used for learningSuccessful students have good study skills. Even if you’ve never had to study much before, you will need strong study habits to meet the rigorous academic requirements at UAMS. Reflect on what you have been doing. Do you feel you are well prepared for your exams? Maybe it’s time to improve how you study and build your skills. You can read more in our posts Sharpen Your Study Skills and Step Up Your Study Skills. You can find more resources under the Study Skills tab on the Learning Support page.



Test-taking skills begin before the test. In fact, the time to begin preparing for a test is the first day of class. Good test-takers use strategies before, during, and after a test. Reflect on your test performance. If it’s not what you hoped, consider the following.

Picture of Testing CalendarBefore the Test: One of the leading causes of low test scores and anxiety is poor preparation. Students often wait until the last minute to study, and then cram all night trying to catch up. They arrive at the test exhausted and overwhelmed. If they try to replace rest with caffeine they might begin to feel sick, which will make it even harder to perform well. Take a look at how you prepare, including your studying, note-taking, and time management. Making necessary changes will help you improve your academic performance.

During the Test: Even the best prepared students can make errors during the test. They may lose track of time, spend too long on one question, or second guess themselves and change answers that were correct. You may need to look at how you are taking your test, and correct some of your habits.

After the Test: What you do after the test is very important to your success. Good test-takers examine their test results to find the source of their errors. Were you missing the information? Maybe you left questions blank. Analyzing your errors can help you take steps to avoid making them on your next test.

There are more helpful resources under the Testing tab on the Learning Support page.

Make the time to reflect. How is your academic performance? Now is the time to change the things that aren’t working for you. Use our resources to help you improve your time management, study skills, and test taking skills. If you want more personalized help, complete and submit the Academic Coaching Request to make an appointment with a Learning Specialist to find the strategies that will work best for you.