Strategies for learning using alternative delivery methods

The key to success for learning and preparing to take exams through alternative delivery methods is to create and maintain a daily routine. Try to maintain the same schedule you have been using throughout the year. Engage in course work every day.

Here a few tips to keep organized:

  • Create a task list and track action items for each course. Always keep the task list visible. Add assignments and deadlines to the task list as required.
  • Create a folder for each course. Ensure the instructor’s contact information, course updates and assignments are easily accessible.
  • Ask your instructor their preferred mode of communication and note the preference in the course folder. When contacting your instructor, use concise language to ensure your question or concern is clear.
  • The Pomodoro Technique may help you maintain focus and manage fatigue. This is a timed study method where you study for 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break. There are Pomodoro timers that are preset to 25 minutes.

Study strategies

Study strategies are essential to form strong study habits, time management skills and self-discipline is imperative for instruction in a self-directed environment using alternative delivery methods. The steps you take in adopting a study strategy will allow you to efficiently manage your course work and enable you to review course material more often.

Retrieval practice

Evidence shows that retrieval practice is one of the most powerful strategies to improve recall. It is the active process we use to boost our learning. As you go through your notes or materials from your courses, make study questions on flash cards or on paper to quiz yourself. It is important to make yourself answer these questions out loud or on paper to force your brain to actively search and retrieve the information.

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is simple, but highly effective by reviewing information at gradually increasing intervals. Each time we quiz ourselves or practice how to solve a problem, we strengthen and consolidate the information we encounter regularly and frequently. Quiz yourself several times over an extended period of time. It is very powerful!


Examples of concepts or ideas are another powerful tool to improve your memory. Try to find real life examples of things you are learning. Can you compare it to something else that you already understand?


We learn through visualization. Try to find a picture, diagram, chart, graph or even create your own visual of a concept.

Exam environment

Prepare a designated space to write your exams and create a controlled environment to minimize distractions. Set up your environment and test your internet connection at least 30 minutes before the exam.

  • Inform others sharing the space that an exam will be taking place during a specific span of time and ask them to minimize interruptions.
  • Turn off mobile phones and set the ringer on landlines to silent or low.
  • Place a “do not disturb” or “exam in progress” sign on the door.
  • Have all allowed materials available and organized before starting the exam.

Exam preparation

Questions to ask your instructor before the exam:

  • What are the rules and expectations of taking the exam using alternative methods?
  • How will the exam format differ from in-class exams?
  • Is it an open book exam?
  • Will the exam be proctored remotely by the instructor or by a computer program?
  • How do I ask for clarification from the instructor once the exam begins?
  • Can you start the exam at any time or is the exam only available during a certain time frame?
  • How do I implement my academic accommodations during on exam using alternative methods?

Writing the exam

  • Questions may be presented one at a time. To make it easier to navigate the exam, write down any question numbers on a piece of paper that wish to review later.
  • Skim over the exam and note how many questions are on the exam, how much time is allotted to complete the exam and plan accordingly.
  • Ensure there is a clock in the room while taking the exam and monitor the time. Set a timer to go off at preferred intervals so you are aware of how much time is remaining to complete the exam.
  • Answer the question the best you can, write down the question number on a piece of paper then return to the question if you have time.

Open book exam

Organize your study notes and books in preparation for an open book exam. Continue to study as if it is a closed book exam and only use your notes as a reference. Be familiar with the resources and be careful not use all your time searching for each answer.


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