University life can be challenging, especially in the first year when we are not yet used to all the assessments and exams, no matter if we are high school graduates or mature students. To help us through our first year of university, Griffith University provides a free academic support program called PASS.
I was fortunate enough to enjoy many quality PASS sessions in my first year of uni and then to work as a PASS leader for Griffith’s Health group in my second year. Here, I want to share some of my experiences with PASS and hope you can get something out of it.
What is PASS?
PASS stands Peer Assisted Study Sessions. It is a free program that offers well structured and fun study sessions for some of the challenging 1st & 2nd year courses. The aim of the program is not to repeat lectures or give out answers for assignments, rather it helps students to enjoy studying itself and to develop teamwork skills with their peers.
How does PASS work?
PASS provides one-hour weekly sessions starting in week 2 and runs in all trimesters. Multiple sessions run at various times each week, so you don’t need to worry if it overlaps with your lectures or tutorials! PASS also provides mock exams before your real mid-trimester and final exams. Those offer a great opportunity to test your knowledge and make mistakes, so you can get an even better result in the actual exam.
Who are the mentors?
PASS sessions are facilitated by PASS leaders, who are students from previous years who have achieved excellent results in your particular course and have completed a nationally accredited training program for PASS.
My experience with PASS
PASS has definitely been a big part of my first year of University as I attended the study sessions weekly. In the sessions, I really had a lot of fun participating in a variety of activities, such as Game show, Pictionary and more. It helped me to remember the knowledge better, because it made learning more than just sitting and listening. In addition, from doing those activities with peers, I got to know many people and some of them became my friends.
When I worked as a PASS leader myself, it also gave me an insight into how PASS actually works. Each PASS leader is strictly assessed through a resume and in-person interview. After that, I also received online training and two full days of intensive in-person training. After I started working as a PASS leader, I received additional training and reviews by a senior PASS leader who sat through one of my sessions and took part in group meetings. The process is to make sure the PASS leader delivers the best study sessions for new first year students. This also made me understand how much Griffith university is taking care of this program and its students.
Why PASS is great for international students
As PASS sessions contain a small group of people, it is a good way to practise your English and get to know other students. PASS leaders also offer helpful study tips and ways to adapt to University life and workload.
PASS online – tips and tricks
PASS online sessions, due to current situations, are available through Blackboard Ultra, which is also used for online lectures of most courses. That means the system would be already familiar to you and you would not have to learn to adapt to a new system.
Yes, PASS will help you make friends!
The study sessions are usually small, comprising 10 to 30 people. At least one group activity is always included in each session that gives you the chance to work with others and make new friends! It can be a bit tricky with online sessions due to the current situation, but PASS also sometimes facilitates breakout groups that puts students into even smaller groups of 5-6 people. In the group room, you can unmute your microphone and talk to your peers.
If you have any questions for Shirley about studying at Griffith or life in Australia, you can chat to her now on Griffith’s Peer to Peer platform.