Searching for Study Strategies in an Online Course

I passed on the apps and turned to old-fashioned flashcards instead.

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I haven’t found online resources helpful as study tools, so I’m turning to traditional methods, like paper flashcards.

I'm several weeks into my online course, and I'm actually caught up with my reading.

This news is as good as it unprecedented, because my first graded test is right around the corner. By next week, our syllabus suggests we take the exam for chapters one through four, which cover financial planning, money management, taxes and savings plans.

The test is open book, so it shouldn't be that hard. That said, all of my previous practice quizzes were open book, and I wasn't exactly making the honor roll with those scores.

It's clear I need to study. The question is how.

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The end-of-chapter online resources provided by the textbook publisher are a bit underwhelming. Aside from the practice quizzes, they consist of narrated slides recapping concepts from the textbook, crossword puzzles with key words from our reading and flashcards you can click through.

The slideshows are decent refreshers, if visually dull, so I'll probably review them. I'm not a fan of crossword puzzles – these are probably manageable, but The New York Times-variety hurts my brain – and I prefer my flashcards the old-fashioned way: on paper. I didn't think this was at all strange until I was at a drug store with a coworker the other day. As I waited in line to pay for the cards, she looked at me and said, "You're really getting those? Isn't there an app for that?"

I often think of myself as being in the same generation as my high school-age cousins. The fantasy was shattered right then as I confronted the reality of my study habits: I'm sure there is an app out there – I just have no desire to find it.

My plan is to make my flashcards this weekend, or at least try to at some point between exercise, taxes, friend dates and restorative couch time.

To prepare for the test in the meantime, I decided to take the practice exam provided by the book publisher. I thought that would be a helpful exercise, kind of like the online chapter quizzes, which would tell me what questions I answered incorrectly and explain the correct answer.

But I thought wrong.

I had an hour to do the exam, which I cranked out in 10 minutes, hitting save after every question as directed.

After I hit "submit test," I assumed I'd see a score and a list of incorrect questions. Instead, I looked into a blank, white screen. I hit refresh, then the back button, but the only thing I could see was white nothingness.

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Wondering if there had been a technical error, or if I had somehow overlooked my score, I logged in to the class discussion board to ask for clarification. I wasn't alone. At least two other students had experienced the same problem and had asked for guidance.

Our professor posted a response, but it made little sense to me. She seemed to think the students were writing about the practice quizzes – not the exam. So at the risk of sounding stupid, or just annoying, I asked about the issue again.

Until I hear back from her, I'll be putting my faith in the slideshows and flashcards. Wish me luck on the test! I think I'll need it.

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