After one, maybe two semesters at William & Mary, a student should come to the understanding that an A grade here takes much more time and effort to earn compared to a B grade. It’s much like this graph of an exponential function.
Many William & Mary students come here having performed extremely well in high school with the majority coming from the top 10% of their class. Numbers that are equivalent to Ivy League schools and UVA. So we smart kids can go to most classes, skim the readings, cram for exams and earn Bs with a bit of work. For the T.W.A.M.P.s (typical William & Mary persons), the future medical school students who use Miller Halls as a quiet study place at night, the future lawyers and grad students, and perfectionists who either want an A — we need to put a lot more work into earning that grade.
Obviously the scale isn’t the same for all classes, but it generally holds true. I transferred to W&M a year ago and recognized this observation near the end of my first semester. For challenging mathematics and foreign language classes, the separation between the amount of time/work required between an A and a B is even greater. Many students are in 5 or more classes and have a list of organizations/clubs/teams with which they are involved, so time becomes a very scarce resource if one doesn’t get organized and study efficiently.
The main reason I wrote this article was to share the resource called Quizlet that my Spanish professor kept mentioning to help us strengthen our language skills. She emphasized the vocabulary first and foremost because half of whatever task we have is designed to test vocabulary and if you know the vocabulary well, you will be better at other tasks that rely on it – grammar, reading comprehension, writing, etc. I didn’t listen to her at first and just did traditional flash cards, scoring in the upper 80s on my Spanish quizzes.
Then, I actually started using it after a tutor (first time I ever went to a tutor) showed me the sets she made for her Spanish class. It’s more than just digital flash cards. For instance, it can read the flash cards to you so that you can study while doing something else, like driving. In the morning I now connect my smartphone via Bluetooth to the car stereo system and listen to Quizlet rattle off vocab lists and verb conjugations. Quizlet can test you on your knowledge with various test-like learning activities such as fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, True/False, matching and auditory tests for foreign language studies. Another neat feature is classes, where multiple users can contribute sets of Quizlet cards that everyone in the group can access. You can do all of this on their smartphone app while you are walking between classes. I get a lot of learning done just driving to/from campus or walking to/from classes now.
On the first Spanish quiz I took after using Quizlet, I got a 100% for all the vocabulary sections and an A grade overall. It really works, but this isn’t just useful for foreign language studies. You will benefit from Quizlet for any class or test that involves memorization. If there are any other cool pieces of technology that will save your fellow students time, effort, or stress, please share them in the comments section.