With the commencement of Day Lights Savings Time, not only is the sun setting earlier, but exam season draws nearer. Described as the most dreaded and stressful season of all, exams are the Bane of students’ existence. Here are five tips to help you ace your exams:
1. Make a study plan.
List all chapters, readings, and/or lectures you need to cover in preparation for the exam in the form of a checklist, which you can actively edit and check off once you begin studying.
Next, divide that list by the days you have allotted to studying. For instance, covering one chapter and two lectures each day. Make sure to leave at least 1-2 days of leeway time prior to the exam, to allow for any catch-up studying, or to go over the material again.
In your plan, be sure to incorporate time spent on other influences such as work, practice, volunteering, and more. Additionally, try and plan for any unforeseeable circumstances, such as a spontaneous dinner with your friends, playing too much 2k, etc.
2. Determine what studying method works best for you and follow it.
Not everyone can study the same way; while some prefer re-reading notes and speaking aloud, others prefer to rewrite points and study off cue cards instead. Test out different studying methods and see which one works best for you. Once you’ve found it, stick to it, and apply it to your plan.
3. Start studying as soon as possible.
A common mistake made by students (including myself) is that it's too early to start studying for an exam. Wrong! Here are some benefits to studying well-ahead of your exams: you have more time to ask your professor and/or TA questions about the material, you give yourself time to grasp and actually understand the content of the course, you avoid cramming and one-nighters, and you’ll have more time to relax!
4. Find what keeps you motivated and fueled to study, then stock up.
Whether that be cans of Red Bull, French vanilla coffee, or shots of espresso, studying needs to be fueled by something other than motivation. So, find what keeps you going and stock up. Being well fed is a key to retaining information, especially if it’s at the last minute. With this in mind, here are a few foods proven to improve memory retention: salmon, eggs, spinach, kale, green tea, and peanut butter.
Also, with all the time spent cooped up in the library, you room, or wherever else your studying spot may be, students don’t have a lot of time to cook. Which means, money will be blown on mall-bought food. To avoid this, do a big grocery run at the beginning of exam season, and cook a few meals at the beginning of each week satisfy you for its duration.
5. Take breaks!
In order for our brains to continue functioning properly, especially when working to retain information, it is imperative that we take breaks and relax. Despite your optimism, it wouldn’t be a great idea to study for 10 hours straight! Instead, follow my 30-7 rule: study for thirty minutes, relax for seven. Repeat this process until you’ve covered the desired amount of material for that day.
Exam season is stressful for all students everywhere, no matter your program nor level of education. It'll come with the occasional mental breakdowns, and the consideration if stripping will become your new profession, but just remember to follow these five steps, and be confident in your academic abilities. On that note, good luck to everyone this exam season!
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