How to easily get an #A+ in any course: A short guide

The title is clickbait, there is no easy way – but perhaps there are easier ways than the classic, pen,paper, and coffee trio late at night. We always hear successful students saying, “study smarter, not harder”.

The scary image, indicating an all-nighter is approaching. Source: MulPix

But what does that even mean?

Blooms Taxonomy. Source: Trinity University

Any form of evaluation, at least at the university level no longer test for knowledge & understanding exclusively. Take a look at the Bloom’s taxonomy chart, these categories are at the bottom. A simple regurgitation of facts does not demonstrate any form of understanding, but rather, questions that require one to expand on ideas or connect existing ideas. Assignments worth more percentage require synthesis, which involve creating new work or justifying decisions based on the information of previous levels.

The dissonance lies in how we study, why would you use study techniques used for the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy when all the questions you are tested for are in the higher levels? The pen-paper-coffee trio does not work.

Quizlet: A possible solution to the study dissonance problem

I can’t speak for other programs, but if you are in the Faculty of Science at Ryerson and studying some form of biology or chemistry, Quizlet is not new. Searching for the answers to common questions would always yeild a Quizlet link.

Essentially, a Quizlet is a set of online flashcards. But calling them only flashcards doesn’t serve justice. Consider having two terms for a test, A & B, to which the answers are C & D, respectively. Flashcards allow you to flip A-C and B-D. On Quizlet, you can also check if you can spell C & D, or correctly match A, B, C, & D together.

EID100: A Quizlet case study

The Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy (EID100) course offered at Ryerson University isn’t the hardest course in any program, however, it requires a few minutes every week, and a few hours before a midterm or test. Click this link to see a sample EID100 Quizlet. The concepts are big-picture and quite simple, so it shouldn’t be too hard to follow.

Scroll to the bottom to see 11 concepts with their corresponding definitions. These are the As and Bs of the example above. You can click any of the buttons below the title to start learning, including “Flashcards”, “Write”, etc.

Quizlet options for learning your notes. Screenshot from Quizlet, by Michel Kiflen

Here are some screenshots of the “Match” game:

Left: Interface of the Match game before you organise the questions and answers. Right: After you finish the game (Notice the “1st place”, you can send the link to others to see how they compare). Screenshots from Quizlet, by Michel Kiflen

I wouldn’t recommend the “Spell” or “Gravity” if you make/use a Quizlet as I have shown. It requires typing, and if an answer contains more than two words, it’s not effective.

My favourite feature might be the least used one; it’s the dictate button. From my experience, I understand concepts better when I verbally explain them or hear them. The benefits are twofold: 1) you memorise the flashcard more quickly, and 2) you learn to simplify the concept since you have to communicate it (dictating a definition word-for-word doesn’t help you or the listener).

The dictate button is the speaker on the left, in the middle of the three other buttons. Screenshot from Quizlet, by Michel Kiflen

If you were to click the dictate button, the “e.g.” is read as “for example”, which means your flashcards can be simplified when creating them. The less words you use, the cleaner they look, and presumably, the more you focus on the concept itself.

Let’s get that A+: Creating a Quizlet

Creating your own Quizlet is very simple. 1) click create at the top, 2) Select your privacy settings, 3) Name the Quizlet, and 4) Input all your questions and answers.

Screenshots from Quizlet, by Michel Kiflen

Use Quizlet in conjunction with studying tactics that you have found to work. It’s never a good idea to go 180˚ before a test. It’s very likely that you know yourself much better than anyone else, especially on matters such as studying. For example, group-study isn’t seen in a positive light by everyone, and there is certainly a right time and place for it, but it’s about finding the optimum time and place for you. Quizlet might seem like a gimmick to some, but I encourage everyone to explore this technique.

With that being said, hopefully, getting that A+ won’t be as hard as it as before!

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