The Final Countdown

Sorry if you’ve got “The Final Countdown” playing in your head…if it wasn’t before, but is now, sorry for that too.

The semester has been a long hard fight and now it all comes down to these last few weeks – designed to push you to your academic limit.  Passing our foreign language exam may not be the same as sparring with a chiseled Russian boxer but we can still take a few pointers from Rocky when it comes to getting through our finals.

1.  Define what it means to win

Winning doesn’t and shouldn’t mean the same thing to everyone.  In the first Rocky movie, the goal is for Rocky to “go the distance” – meaning that he goes all 15 rounds with Apollo Creed.  Getting an A+ on your final may be one way to determine if you’ve won, but it doesn’t have to be.  Grades are only one way to assess how much you’ve learned over the semester.  Find out what it means for you to consider the class a success and strive to meet your personal goal.

2. Turn your weaknesses into your strength

Rocky was a “southpaw” boxer which meant that he preferred his left-hand instead of his right (not that being a lefty is a weakness).  In Rocky II, Mickey focuses on training Rocky’s right so that it throws off his opponent.  If you have a hard time memorizing terms, recognize that and change your training to meet the challenge.  You may not naturally pick it up as easily, but once you do it will really pay off.

3.  Do what you do best

When Rocky tries to find things to do besides fighting, it doesn’t work.  In addition to working on those things that we think are weaknesses, we can also work to highlight our strengths.  If you can churn out awesome essays in no time, then making sure you have great essay responses can give you a leg up when you have to face a harder section like multiple choice (or multiple guess for me).

4.  Don’t go it alone

We all need people to give us a kick in the pants every once in a while and Rocky always did his best training when he had someone to help motivate him.  Some of us may be able to sit in the library alone and pound out hours of intense studying.  But, going it alone also means that you may be missing out on valuable insight that can come from a little help.  Spending some time working with a study group can give you the opportunity to see the material from a number of perspectives and perhaps find something that you may have missed in your own notes.

5.  It’s about more than a test

Even though the Rocky movies seem to focus on the fights, they were actually only a small part of what made those movies so great.  Rocky had to deal with a number of issues outside of the ring so that he could perform at his best.  In the days leading up to finals, remember that there’s more to life and your semester than this one test.  Prepare for it like crazy, but don’t forget to take a little time to remember all the people and things that make life really worth living.

In case you want a little musical motivation, feel free to run up and down the stairs of your library to this.  Good luck – you’ve got everyone here at PERRLA rooting for you!
Thanks to Ricardo and Steam Boat Friday for the inspiration and picture.

The Calm Before the Storm

We’re at that point in the semester where many of the tests and papers are behind us but finals wait just around the corner. Like sitting in the middle of a hurricane, it’s an eery calm that can be misleading. So, instead of just bracing for the oncoming wave of anxiety, cramming, and late night library visits, let’s use this time to fortify our defenses and lay out a plan to go out with a triumphant hoorah!

See The Big Picture

Take a 40,000 foot view of your class as a whole. Step back and look at how the class material has been organized. If you can get your head around how the class has progressed through the semester it can give you a new way to categorize the information you’ve learned. Most professors (or at least the best of them) have a reason that they’ve taught you the material in the manner they have. So, if you can understand why a course is laid out the way it was, you’ll have a better grasp on the underlying architecture of the class and a helpful insight into what the professor is hoping you will learn.

Organize Your Study Materials

First, organize important notes, handouts, and tests from earlier in
the semester. Over time, our important papers tend to get a little
scattered. Taking a few moments to make sure that you have everything you’ll need to study effectively can cut out hours of panicked searching later. It also gives you a chance to share resources with classmates in case you are missing anything or want to beef up your previous work.

Start Reviewing Now

Next, go ahead and start reviewing your materials. Most exams are
comprehensive, so that means you’ll need to brush up on the terms and concepts you learned way back in January. You don’t have to jump into full study mode yet, but becoming familiar with the major ideas that you’ve already studied will keep them fresh in your mind.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

With all of the work that went into the recent release of PERRLA Complete, we haven’t had a lot of time for shenanigans.

But, this week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we decided to do something silly for your entertainment.  (Okay, for OUR entertainment!)  We hope you’ll get a chuckle out of our first ever sock puppet video…

Apologies to the the phenomenal Barry “Dr. Love” White and to the one-and-only “Queen Bey” Beyonce…