Skip to main content

Office of Academic Support

School Menu


Many students come to the clinic with questions. Here are some suggestions, based on issues students have recently raised.

Asking questions in class

Students have said they sometimes feel frustrated and more confused after asking a question in class. Has this happened to you? When you attempt to ask a question, the words come out differently than you planned. You end up not saying what you mean, and then the professor cannot address your real question.

This common occurrence can be easily avoided. Here's what you should do:

1. Decide what kind of answer your question requires. Is it a what, why, where, when or how answer? Thinking about your question as a category will help direct your focus.

2. Jot down a key word or two to make sure you include the necessary details.

3. If you find the answer to your question confusing, then ask for clarity by re-stating the answer. Say, for example, "I heard you say this: [restate what you heard]. Is that correct?" By doing this, you and the teacher can focus on the needed information. The teacher will know better what you need to know.

Remember: Asking questions is a natural part of the learning process. A well-phrased question will help you understand new material.

Multiple Choice Tests

 Many students say this after taking multiple-choice tests: "I knew the material, but the question was tricky."   To prepare, here are some things to do.

1. Over-study.

Multiple choice questions are designed to test your understanding and application of the material. Know the details and make sure you understand the terminology.
  For example, on a recent test, a number of students missed the following question because they confused Piaget's explanation of "accommodating" with "assimilating." They could not then properly apply the terms to the given situation.

Here is the actual question: "An infant has always used one hand to pick up a small ball but now, when faced with a large beach ball, picks it up with two hands. In Piaget's terms, the change from one hand to two is called:" a. conserving  b. equalizing  c. accommodating  d. assimilating

2. Be resourceful

When the textbook's explanation is too wordy or unclear, seek other sources, such as dictionaries, your teacher, a review book, or Google. In the question above, you might look up the definitions of "accommodating" and "assimilation" to understand Piaget's use of each term