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The PASS/PAL Program: Study smart and improve your marks

Page last published: 20 Aug 2013

Students study with peers in PASS sessionsHow many  times has this happened to you? You attend a lecture, you try your best to be  attentive, but you can't keep up so you decide you'll listen to ilecture and read your textbook later - and hopefully you'll be able to understand all the  concepts. But you forget to listen to ilecture and you can't concentrate on the  textbook. This cycle goes on and on and before you know it, you're trying to cram a semester's worth of information into your brain on the eve of your final  exams.

This is when  you regret not taking advantage of the Arts Faculty's PASS/PAL program – the  weekly student-run study sessions which help you revise and better understand  the content in specific units.

Studying and managing your time can be really challenging. Nick, the PASS/PAL leader for Philosophy and a 2nd year Psychology student, confesses that even as a PASS/PAL leader work commitments, social activities, and Facebook can disrupt  his study time.

"I love  to please my employer by saying that I am always available for work; and when  my friends ask me to come down to the pub in the evening, it's hard to say no,"  says Nick who admits that such distractions are often  excuses for putting off studying.

Study tips

He overcomes these challenges by planning ahead and organising his study time.

Nick  advises, "Start early and do it often. You are more likely to remember something that you've been studying every day over the last few weeks than a  topic that you've just read once. Working bit by bit will make things more manageable."

"Another great way to start a study routine is to join a study group such as PASS/PAL," Nick adds.

PASS/PAL: The smart way to  study

PASS (also  known as Peer Assisted Learning – PAL) is an academic support program for all students in selected units in the Faculty of Arts. It is an effective way to study  and to develop a better understanding of your subjects.

The sessions  are facilitated by students like Nick who have excelled in the unit in a  previous year, and they are always happy to share their successful study techniques. PASS/PAL leaders attend or listen to all the lectures in the units  they facilitate and they know how to guide the PASS/PAL groups to find the  right answers, as well as the best study resources each week.

PASS/PAL study groups are friendly, informal, and fun. In the student-only sessions, you can ask questions, revise and discuss course content with other motivated  students in a confidential, supportive and positive environment.

"I think PASS/PAL is a fantastic way to meet  new people, make friends and expand your knowledge in a specific subject. PASS/PAL also develops study techniques and habits which help you perform better," Nick  adds.

Research from universities worldwide which use the PASS/PAL system says that one hour in a  PASS/PAL session is equivalent to 3-4 hours spent studying alone. It also shows that students who attend PASS/PAL sessions regularly in a semester are more likely to receive higher marks than  students who do not attend.

Learning with your peers

Bachelor of Laws student Merryn attended PASS/PAL sessions before becoming a PASS/PAL Leader  herself. Being a leader and facilitator helped build her confidence, enrich her  own studies, and establish networks with PASS/PAL attendees, academic staff and  other facilitators.

Merryn says,  "A PASS/PAL Leader does not teach or profess to be an expert. Leaders facilitate the learning process, and they are trained to do that. PASS/PAL promotes  collaborative rather than competitive learning."

"In PASS/PAL sessions we focus on skills development, particularly on exam preparation. In  the sessions I run in the weeks leading up to exams, we discuss effective study  techniques and go through practice exam questions. Attending the sessions helps you stay on top of content," she adds.

Studying better by keeping to a regular study routine and doing it the PASS/PAL way will improve your academic performance. With the  help of your PASS/PAL peers, you will achieve more and study is fun.

Want to join PASS/PAL sessions?  Please visit the PASS/PAL website for further information.

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