Its December, so it means… Christmas season. WRONG! For university students like Rochelle and I, it means exam season. Although Rochelle and I had our exams early on and are basically all done to enjoy a month of festivities, I thought I’d share with you some tips for conquering exams and minimizing stress. This year has been the easiest in terms of exam studying mainly because I changed up my routines and found what worked best for my way of learning. Here is my take on de-stressting during exam season.
1. Scheudule- while agendas and planners are the first thing on everyone’s list for getting organized, I like to implement my planning system differently. While setting daily goals is a wonderful idea for staying on track, giving yourself more time than you actually need will have greater benefits. That way you prevent cramming and you feel more satisfied when you are able to move on to the next item on your to-do list faster than planned.
Example: It takes me half a day to review my lecture notes, but I give myself a day to get that done. This way, I can move on to the next task the same day and feel accomplished. I also don’t end up cramming in case I have an odd day where I am not feeling up to the task.
2. Switch it up- I used to be a fan of getting everything done in order from readings to memorizing to reviewing. I figured if I can catch up on the readings I’ve missed first then I can spend the rest of the time studying. Little did I know, this strained my eyes (even eye drops wouldn’t help) and my head could no longer comprehend what I was reading. By alternating between doing the readings and then memorizing for each class was far more effective.
Sad Fact: I would wake up with my eyes hurting from so much reading. So be smart, switch things up. The minute that I did, the pain disappeared!
3. Highlight- taking your study notes and reviewing 100 pages worth of notes is a pain. I have now implemented a system where I highlight only the most importance points from the condensed study notes I make from my readings etc. This way you aren’t studying unnecessary facts/info.
Example: in a sentence, highlight only the key words that convey a message. Try to compartmentalize information to see the bigger picture.
4. Reward- do not stay in the same place while you study, switch it up. I started to dread my room because my desk = exam studying = dreadful. By switching up where I studied, I was able to feel more refreshed and motivated.
Fun Fact: I have studied in the living room, my bedroom, my sister’s room, the kitchen, and my tiny walk in closet (on the floor). I really made use of all the space I’ve got around the house.
5. Review- I reviewed all of my notes every morning after breakfast. This kept things fresh in my mind for longer. The more you review, the longer you can remember the ideas and the easier it becomes to see the relevance of what you are learning. You might be afraid that the information from all of them classes will start to jumble up, but its important to find parallels between all of your classes to bring in unique information in the exam sometimes.
6. Time off- aside from switching up your study space, don’t forget to take breaks. It might feel like you have no time or that you can’t possibly be enjoying yourself during exams, but a bit of fun can actually do you some good. When I was studying, I made time to go skating and hang out with a friend on several occasions. These short breaks took my mind off of the stress and the studying. Its good to come out of the study hole and feel human again hehe.
Example: I took a week long break to study for exams. In the mean time, I had time to go skating in the evening and bake some cookies with my sister. I felt much happier afterwards and reenergized to keep studying afterwards.
7. Take the week off- best way to get into exam mode is to just take a week off to yourself. This way I was able to wake up studying and go to bed studying. This sounds slightly unfortunate but I really pushed myself to focus on studying. Not everyone has the ability to put a long pause on their life, but if you find that just dedicating a chunk of time to quiet study, then this might be the way to go.
8. Extra research- one of the most helpful tips have been to do my own additional research. This might be a good idea if you have a professor that wants you to be very specific in your writing or just a wonderful way to piece together what you are studying. The information is also easier to understand than scholarly journals. This is an additional bonus to your reading notes, not a substitute though.
Example: for one of my classes, I researched all the Prime Ministers of Canada since WW2. I had the readings done, but doing my own Google search filled in the exams in my statistical information about each figure and added something unique to the exam.
9. Study group- if you have a chance to share notes with a friend and vise versa than take advantage of the opportunity. Chances are that you both have interpreted the information in your own unique way and may have missed something in general.
Example: I like FB groups for classes as everyone is able to pose their questions and the whole class together can piece an answer. You are helping yourself and everyone else out.
10. You’ll get through it- Yes you will. I know it feels like exams are the end of the world and yes, sometimes I convince myself that they are, but once you are done, Netflix is there to cheer all of us up.