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Tips to Tackle Those Tests

using a crib note on an exam

Sneaking in a cheat sheet is NOT a good test-taking strategy!!!


Midterms. Love em’ or hate em’–there’s no way to avoid em’. It’s that time of year again where we take a step back from the food debates and workout routines to focus on the nitty-gritty academic aspect of college. But have no fear, because I’m here to help This post is all about tips on test-taking so you can tackle those formidable midterms.

The fact is that you can study all you want, but if you don’t have good test-taking strategies all that knowledge is going to stay locked in your brain. And no matter what the class you are more than likely going to run into at least one of these two types of questions: multiple choice and paragraph response.

Taking a Multiple Choice Exam

Now, when a professor says the test will be multiple choice, most students are relieved–and for good reason. Multiple choice tests are significantly easier to pass even when you don’t fully understand the material because you have a 1 in 4 chance of guessing correctly. This is not to say don’t study. You should absolutely study. But if you’re walking into a multiple choice test feeling uneasy about the subject matter, here is some advice:

  1. Read All the Answer Options– Always.
    Looking at all the possible answers will ensure that you don’t fall for any tricky questions with answers that sound plausible.
  2. Take Your Time. Never hesitate to go back and check your answers. I know it’s tempting to just turn in your test and get out of class early, but many times students lose points because they skimmed over questions and end up missing key phrases like “Which of these is NOT accurate?” Going back and reading the questions will ensure that you didn’t accidentally skim over something as vital as a “Not.”
  3. Don’t Feel Overwhelmed by Choices.
    Elimination is key in getting the correct answer on questions you have no clue about. Everyone’s been there. You’re taking a test and come across a question that seems to come out of nowhere, but nevertheless there it is and you’re expected to take a guess at it. So it’s best to find the option that you know isn’t right. For most multiple choice questions there are two “throw away” answers that most students easily recognize as incorrect. This leaves test-takers with two answers that sound right. From that point, it’s all about luck.

Taking a Paragraph Response Exam

While students are usually thrilled to hear their professor is doing a multiple choice test, almost no one is excited to hear that they will be seeing paragraph responses on an exam. These questions can really tank test takers and giving advice is not easy because each subject has different standards. However, here are some general guidelines so you aren’t left horribly confused when you come across this type of question on your mid-terms.

    I cannot stress this enough–planning what you’re going to say is vital for any length of written response. When you are trying to think of the answer and write it down at the same time, it’s really easy for words to get left out or jumbled up. Professors may take off points for simply leaving out key descriptive words that make answers specific. Just plotting out what you’re going to say and the order you’re going to say it in helps make your wording a lot cleaner.
  2. Fake It Until You Make It.
    Just because you’re not 100% sure about the answer doesn’t mean you throw away the question. Say what you THINK is right. Unless your professor docks points for misinformation, you’ll probably get at least partial credit. Feel free to add extra information as well. It’s better to have too much than too little.
  3. Use Your Time Wisely.
    Professors give you the entire class time to take a test for a reason. Don’t rush through answering your paragraph response questions. The more you can think about a subject the more likely you are to remember material on that subject. Take your time, read the question carefully and re-read your answers before turning it in. Of course, if you have several questions, you can’t spend too much time on any one question. Divide the number of minutes allotted by the number of questions on the exam to find out the average time you should spend on a question. Try to stick to that schedule in order to get to all the questions.

Hopefully these test-taking strategies help you feel a lot more confident heading into your exams this week. That A is totally achievable but you have to work for it too. Don’t take midterms lightheartedly and be as prepared as you can be.

Wishing you the best of luck on your exams this week!

–Hannah Carmack

Our Days (of Warmth) Are Numbered

a collage of Winona nature photos

The breeze is turning crisp, the leaves are falling like rain, and the numbers on the forecast keep getting lower and lower. The Minnesota Cold is upon us. But don’t fret, there’s still time to enjoy Winona’s spectacular autumn scenery and activities

  1. Hike
    Hiking is Winona’s favorite pastime. From Sugar Loaf to Garvin Heights to the number of bike trails, you’re sure to love the crisp air and rainbow of leaves.
  2. Enjoy the Lake
    There’s still time to get out on the lake and learn how to paddleboard, canoe or kayak. Grab your windbreaker and enjoy the view.
  3. Go for a Bike Ride
    There’s nothing like a good bike ride around Winona. Whether through the little town streets or along the river, it’s always good to appreciate the charm of Winona from the seat of a bicycle. Go rent a tandem bike from the Student Resource Center and spend quality time with a friend!
  4. Go to a Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard
    Pumpkin patches and apple orchards are perfect activities for roommates, friends or couples. Get into the autumn spirit and bake some fall treats!
  5. Grill Out
    There’s nothing better than a burger straight off the grill. Get your cornhole bean bag set out of the garage and enjoy a meal and games with your friends.

–Leah Dobihal

I'm On a Boat at WSU! Wait, What??

a boat is docked on the river

Drum roll please……………… Here is the Cal Fremling, WSU’s newest classroom!

Hello and welcome back to another year in beautiful Winona. I spent the majority of my summer back home in Milwaukee completely isolated from Winona and any events that may have happened over our long break. I had little contact with the Winona community outside of my roommates, who frankly are useless at relaying interesting social news, so when I returned to start the new school year and logged on to the school website after months of ignoring my responsibilities, I was shocked to find a new addition to Winona State. We now have a boat.

This new boat is named the Cal Fremling after the late Dr. Cal Fremling, professor of biology and was acquired through the Winona State University Foundation. Frankly however, I could not figure out why the school would need a boat. What would we use it for? Why do we need it? What can it do? For those of you who are in the same boat as me (get it?), don’t worry, I (strangely for me) decided to take some initiative and went to tour to find out what the Cal Fremling boat was all about.

My guide through the inner workings of the boat was the director of technology and man of the hour, Thomas Hill. As the man in charge of all the technology present on the boat, Tom’s job was to bring the Cal Fremling into the modern world. Thanks to his tireless work, the boat is equipped with state of the art technologies including wi-fi, live video streaming capabilities, GPS navigation systems and interactive maps. There are also cameras mounted on the front, back and underside of the boat.

With these modern technologies and interactive learning tools, the Cal Fremling has become a brand new, state of the art “floating classroom.” According to Tom, the purpose of this technology is to provide students ways to bring the river to life. He wants this technology to act as a gateway to provide students ways to interact with the river and apply what they have learned in their classes to the real world in a hands on and interactive way.

As a classroom, the Cal Fremling is open to students and professors of all disciplines to use as an interactive tool to develop a better understanding of class material. For example, the Cal Fremling recently served as a lab for biology students studying algae growth in the Mississippi river. The students cast out nets to collect algae from the river and used the technology in their classrooms and on the boat to analyze their findings. Theater majors have also used the boat to study lighting at various times of the day and how it can be recreated on stage.

As well as being a classroom tool, the boat also provides students a way to use what they have learned and apply it to the Winona community. The nature of Winona is a large part of what makes the city a beautiful, unique place, and the boat allows students to connect these natural resources to our education in ways specific to Winona.

The Cal Fremling is very young and currently still in the developmental stages. Constant updates are being made to the boat in an effort to find new and innovative ways it can be used other than joyriding down the Mississippi. This means the future of the Cal Fremling is being left intentionally open-ended. This open-ended nature is what helps the boat provide countless opportunities for fun, engaging and flexible learning in the Winona community.

I encourage you to talk to your teacher if you think there is a way the Cal Fremling boat can be used in your courses. It would definitely make for an interesting class period.

Happy Sailing!

Caleb Bednarski

The First Round of Exams is Here

This week brings not only red-tinged leaves and pumpkin spice lattes, but also the first round of exams! Have you found your perfect place to sincerely study, rigorously review and properly prepare?

Take this quiz to discover your ideal study spot.

4 Secrets to College Success

a graduate receiving his diploma

Follow my advice and that diploma will be yours!


College classes are hard—they demand that you read more, write more, hold more information in your head and confront more new ideas than you had to in high school—and you are probably all realizing this right about now. When I was a freshman, I had this same realization after my first round of exams and essay assignments. I knew college was going to be a step up, but I didn’t understand how high of a step it would be.

You see, high school had been pretty easy for me. I was usually one of those kids who set the curve and was salutatorian at graduation. I had set a high bar for academic success and I wanted to succeed in college too. My friends, parents and former teachers expected me to succeed as well. Failure was not an option.

Whether you were a straight-A student or not, we can all relate to the fear of failing at college, of disappointing your families, of becoming another statistic, of ruining your chance at a good career. But before you start down that slippery slope, know that there are steps you can take to avoid that dreaded fate.

As a senior who has never come close to failing a class, I am proud to present my secrets to college success.

1. Go to Class and Participate

It seems like a no-brainer, but one basic key to college success is showing up to class every day. Even if you totally understand the subject matter, go to class. It doesn’t hurt to hear the concepts repeated in the lecture or get some hands on practice with in-class activities. That being said, it isn’t enough to show up but spend the class browsing Facebook or Reddit, you have to participate as well. Really listening to your professor, taking notes and asking questions will help you get the most out of the class.

2. Do Your Homework Right Away

Let me say this straight out: being a procrastinator is NOT a badge honor. Staying up all night to finish a paper does not make you a hero— it only makes you sleep-deprived with a crappy paper to turn in the next day.  Instead, do your work early so you have enough time to create something of quality. Plus, by getting your work out of the way early, you can have all the fun you want over the weekend without worrying.

3. Study Without Distractions

We all think that we are great multi-taskers, but in reality we can only focus well on one thing at a time. So, when you are studying, make your textbooks the priority. For example, watching television and studying do not mix well. Neither, in my experience, do beds and warm blankets (Hello, nap!). If you don’t like studying by yourself, by all means study with friends but don’t let the discussion wander off-topic with roommate drama or football stats.

4. Get Help When You Need It

Maybe you want to figure everything out for yourself, but there is nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. Take advantage of the Writing Center, the Math Achievement Center and Tutoring Services,  all of which are free of charge and open to walk-ins. Tutors at the Writing Center can help you write a thesis and properly cite your sources while the tutors at the Math Achievement Center specialize in all areas of math and statistics. At Tutoring Services, you can get help with just about everything else from Anatomy/Physiology to Spanish to Organic Chemistry.

Ok, so maybe these tips are not so secret. Nevertheless, they are tried and true tactics that can help you succeed in college. I know they have certainly worked for me.

–Elizabeth Meinders

14 Things We All Experienced As Freshmen

Freshman year can be many things…dramatic, scary, exciting, but don’t forget, that nearly everyone here has been through those same experiences.

1. Having to get real serious with your parents when they refuse to leave on Move-In Day

a woman slams a door

2. Realizing you packed enough clothes for a small army and you have a closet the size of a walnut. And you look at your over-packed duffel like…

a man holds his head and the caption reads "This is too much"

3. The awkward meeting of the roommate. Need I say more?

a woman looks awkward

4. Hitting your head for the first week because you’re not used to your nose being inches from the ceiling. And it feels something like this

a girl gets punched in the face

5. Realizing that Winona doesn’t have a Buffalo Wild Wings or a Chipotle

Harry Potter looks shocked

6. Thinking that what your professor is saying sounds more like gibberish than English

a toddler looks sleepy and confused

And by the time the first exam rolled around you were like…

A woman looks confused and a caption says "What is happening?"

7. Acting like you knew where you were going when really you didn’t even know that Pasteur was a real place

a woman is lost in a crowd of people

8. Counting down the days of cafeteria food

a man makes a face after eating some food

9. Realizing that all of your money has been spent on dorm-delivered Domino’s and scantrons

a man covers his eyes in embarrassment

10. Deciding how to wear your lanyard, which probably held your student ID and a back-up copy of your class schedule

A woman taps her chin with her finger while looking thoughtful

11. Finally appreciating all those years you didn’t have to do your own laundry

a man carrying a basket of laundry glares over his shoulder

But by the end of the year you’re like…

a man quickly folds t-shirts in a laundry room

12. Flip flops in the shower–it was a new thing

A woman shows off her shoes with the caption "Metallica are very in this season"

13. Reflecting on how you’ve been doing since you started making your own decisions

a woman nods and says "My life is a day to day experiment in bad decisions"

14. But after all the drama, homesickness and tough choices, you realized how awesome WSU is going to be

a toddler waves her arms and bounces excitedly in her car seat

–Leah Dobihal

Home v. Here

For the average WSU student, coming to Winona State University wasn’t that long of a trek or much of a difference culturally. Well, for me it was the biggest change of my life. My name is Rachel and I am originally from Danbury, Connecticut.

You’re probably thinking, why is she here? What made her chose Winona? How did she even find Winona? Well, it’s pretty simple actually. My mom grew up in Goodview, a five-minute drive from campus, and actually went to Winona before moving to Connecticut. My aunt also works in the IWC. And who doesn’t want to get away from home, right?!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed some huge differences between my childhood home in Connecticut and my new home here in Winona.

For starters, Minnesotans say some pretty weird stuff. Don’t get me wrong to all of you, I say some weird stuff too but come on, freez-ees? Pop? Bubblers? I was confused for a good week trying to learn all your Midwestern lingo. Your accents aren’t that strong (though I’ve come to realize the pronunciation of certain words differs greatly from person to person) but some words just sound off to my New England ear, such as flag, bagel, roof and milk. In the video below, you can see how frustrating it is.

Let’s move on to transportation and city life. Where I am from everyone needed to have a car. Not just because they wanted one and because it was “cool” to have one but because there was no other way to get to the other side of town! You had to take the highway and bikes weren’t allowed on the highway. In a town of more than 80,000, you either have a car or you don’t go anywhere. There was literally nothing to do in my town even though we had so many people. There was only one hiking trail and nowhere to canoe or basically do anything remotely outdoors based. You guys don’t realize how good you got it here.

I also can’t believe how friendly people are here. Back home, if I said hi to everyone I passed on the street or held the door open for I would get the dirtiest looks so when I got here, I kept that same attitude. It makes me seem rude, I know, but that’s what I grew up with and that’s just how I reacted. I am working on developing my “Minnesota nice” manners.

I’m sure few of you traveled to WSU from the east coast, or as I call it New England, but I’m sure most of you have seen differences between your hometown and here. I just thought I’d share my thoughts with you.

–Rachel Adam

I Just Couldn’t Leave Without My...

bottles of nail polish

My nail polish collection was the thing I just could leave home without.

Going to college can be a scary thing. It’s all new people, a new home and new experiences. As I packed for my freshman year of college here at Winona State, I couldn’t imagine leaving anything behind. Knowing the dimensions of a res hall room, the decisions about what to bring and what to leave at home were tough.

But there was one thing I just could never leave without: my nail polish collection.

I love painting my nails a different color every few days and I have gathered quite a collection over the years. Yes, all the bottles take up space on my dresser, but I love having all of the different options. I couldn’t leave a single one behind and, silly as it may sound, painting my nails was a comforting ritual that reminded me of home which helped as I adjusted to my new life at WSU.

So…what is the one thing you couldn’t leave home without?

Post your pic on Instagram or tweet it with the hashtag #WSUmusthave, or email your picture and description of your item with the subject line “WSU Must Have” to webcomm@winona.edu and it will be added to the Facebook album on the Official WSU Facebook page.

Let’s see all the items we Warriors can’t live without. (There will be no judgement for the stuffed animal or blanket you have had since you were born :) )

–Leah Dobihal

10 Things To Do in Your First Week Of Class

WSU students study together

These students are confident and at ease–and you can be too!

Orientation Week might be over but there are still a few things you can do to be prepared for the beginning of classes. This first week can be pretty confusing as a freshman. You hear so much information all at once and it can be hard to retain it all. If you find yourself feeling a bit lost, this list can help you find your way so you can start off the year with a solid foundation. Prepare yourself with this helpful checklist.

  1. Check out the list of WSU clubs, and meet other students who share your interests. If you don’t see a club or organization and you want to start one, go for it!
  2. Go exploring! Grab some new friends and travel downtown to see what it has to offer, as well as other Winona hangouts.
  3. Organize your computer and download programs. Especially if you know you will be needing a specific program for a class, download it ASAP! Waiting to do this in class with everyone else will be a long slow process you’ll want to avoid. If you have any questions or issues with your new computer, go to Tech Support (second floor of Somsen) before classes start and get everything squared away.
  4. Order your books! Don’t know what books you will need? Search by your course to find which books your professor requires on the WSU bookstore website.
  5. Along with sending friend requests to everyone in your residence hall and classes, make sure you follow WSU on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to stay connected and updated on everything happening at WSU! And be sure to join your fellow freshmen in the Class of 2018 Facebook group.
  6. If you haven’t figured this out already, make sure you know how to log into your email and D2L. Also, be able to log onto “Find a Course” and locate your DARS report (knowing how to use this tool will make fulfilling your major and minor class requirements a lot easier!) If you want to update you major from undecided status, do so now! If you have questions about any of this visit the Warrior Hub in Maxwell 222.
  7. While you’re reviewing your DARS, look to see who your advisor is. Your advisor can help you make sure you have all the right classes to keep you on track.
  8. Get a pass at Lake Lodge to go canoeing, kayaking and more. It costs $5 for a year-long pass. The first time you sign up you have to fill out an info card so they can get you in the database, but after that you just have to renew your pass every year and you have unlimited access!
  9. Look for a job. This is not necessary for everyone, but if you are one of those who have to work through the school year now is the time to go around applying for jobs on and off campus.
  10. Check out the awesome Integrated Wellness Complex and solidify your workout routine! Like the Group Exercise Facebook Page if you would want the inside scoop on free workout classes.  This page is also a great place to find a work out buddy!

And, finally, are you excited for the year yet? Good! You’re especially excited now that you are well prepared and have all your questions answered, right?

Just remember: Part of being a college student is becoming independent and figuring things out on your own (even if you have to make a few mistakes along the way). Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use your resources! If you have any more questions about this list or even something not mentioned, leave a comment below and we will point you in the right direction!

–Anna Butler

For Snow, or Rain, or Heat, or Gloom of Night-- Better be Prepared!

An "all the things" meme about packing

Yep…this pretty much sums up preparing to move to college.

You are standing in front of your bedroom closet, then you turn to look at your desk covered in papers and knickknacks and the walls hung with photos and posters before glancing across the floor that is strewn with random objects you had forgotten you even owned but are now sentimental to you. And as you gaze upon all your possessions, you wonder “Where do I even begin to pack for college??

Is this scene ringing any bells for you? Well, that is how I felt, at least, when I was preparing to go to college, leaving behind the bedroom I’d called my own for almost 18 years and all its memories of childhood. Whether you are struggling with nostalgia or not, moving is such a hassle (I know, I’ve done it 5 times now) and you might be tempted to bring as few boxes with you as possible. But the reality is that you had better be prepared for everything– weather-wise and otherwise.

This is especially if your parents live several hours away (as mine do) since it isn’t so easy to run home and grab your winter coat, for example, when the weather turns cold disturbingly early. That’s all well and good but, you may be thinking, where are you going to put all that potentially necessary stuff in a college residence hall room?!? The key is to maximize the amount of space you do have and keep everything organized so you can find it easily.

This is what I have learned:

  • Use flat bins to get the most out of the space under the bed. Even if you don’t decide to loft your bed (which is an excellent way to gain extra floor space) you can still store a lot of stuff under it. I used three long, flat bins to store all my spring & summer clothes during the winter and then turned it into winter storage when the weather grew warm again.
  • Put shelving units inside the closet. This is an easy way to add extra storage space. In my closet, I used several milk crates stacked on their sides in mine to store bedding, towels and other supplies.
  • Buy lots of hangers and 3-M hooks. Hanging up most of your clothes in the closet will save you space in your dresser drawers. Putting up 3-M hooks on the back of the door or elsewhere around your room is a great way to keep coats within easy reach and let towels dry after showering.
  • Use shoe boxes as drawer dividers. Re-purposing shoe boxes as drawer dividers is a cheap, eco-friendly way to stay organized. I save all my shoeboxes (my mom would say I have a problem—but hey, you never know when you might need a box!) and use them in my dresser to make it easy find socks, underwear, make-up, and jewelry.
  • Hang some bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are a great way to de-clutter desktops and display photos but they can also be used to store necklaces, thus eliminating space-consuming jewelry trees. I hang all my necklaces up a bulletin board where they are in easy reach and kept from getting tangled.

The second key piece of advice I have is don’t bring things that you don’t really need:

  • Your entire book collection. Sorry! I am an English major so I understand your pain, but those beloved books will only take up space. Bring only a few of your very favorite books though honestly, you probably won’t have time to read them. If you do have time for pleasure reading, you can simply check books out from the Winona Public Library which is only a few blocks from campus.
  • Your cd/dvd collection. This one calls for the same logic as above; you simply don’t have the space to store stacks of cds or dvds. Instead, put all your music on your computer and/or iPod and listen to songs that way. The front desks in the res halls all have a wide movie selection that you can borrow using your student ID. However, if you can’t bear to leave your movies at home, do place all the discs in binder with plastic sleeves to eliminate dozens of bulky cases.
  • A vacuum and cooking equipment. The front desks in all the residence halls have vacuums available for students to check out. They also have pots and pans so if you want to do any baking these items are available. A small frying pan and quart-sized pot for macaroni are useful but you’ll most likely eat your main meals in the cafeteria.
  • A printer. There some 90 printers across campus, including the dorms, that WSU students can use for free. So why would you bring a big bulky printer and pay for all that ink and paper??

You’ll also want to coordinate with your roommate so that you don’t end up with two mini-fridges, two microwaves, floor lamps etc. Talking to your roommate before you actually move in is always a good idea—it makes sharing close quarters so much less awkward! Living in the residence hall is a fun challenge; this is just my advice to help your experience be more fun and less challenging by being prepared for everything.

–Liz Meinders