Tips and Tricks for Conquering Exams

Exam season can be one of the most stressful periods in a student’s life. When tests pile up, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and receiving low scores only adds to the tension. Here are some essential tips to help you conquer your finals.

1. Know when your exams are.

Being aware of exactly when your test takes place can be extremely helpful in both planning and productivity. Without knowing the exact day that you are taking the test, planning a study schedule around the exam becomes impossible. Also, when there’s a deadline (in this case, the day of your exam), you feel a greater sense of urgency to study. I suggest writing down the dates in/on something that you will see daily. If you currently live your life through your planner, then write them in there and highlight the dates. If you don’t use a planner, then simply write the dates down on a sticky note and put them somewhere in plain sight (preferably where you normally study). Keeping the test in the back of your mind will make you more responsible when it comes to your test preparation and you’ll also feel less off guard as the day approaches.

2. Buy/borrow prep books.

Prep books can be immensely helpful when it comes to last-minute reviewing (not that any of us ever wait until the last minute). You won’t have time to reread textbooks, and personal notes might not be the best quality. Having a shorter version of the course at your disposal can be a quick lifesaver.

3. Create your study space.

Make yourself a dedicated study space and keep it organized. This space should contain all of the materials that you would need for your review session (prep books, pencils, etc.), so you won’t spend your valuable time looking for them. Your brain will also start to associate that area with studying and you can have even more productive review sessions.

4. Budget your time.

Now comes the essential part; planning. Try to allocate a specific set of hours each day to exam prep. You can do this first thing in the morning or right after school or even before bed, but it’s important to have a designated time slot for studying. By appointing specific hours to review, you take away potential excuses and get into a habitual routine of studying. In doing so, you will not feel obligated to study every hour of your waking day but still remain accountable.

5. Plan your workload.

In addition to planning out your time, you should also balance out your workload. I advise seeing how many chapters are in your prep book, then dividing up the number of sections by how many days/weeks until your exam. This way you have a specific outline for studying and won’t waste time.

6. Take a practice test (or two!).

Taking practice tests before the actual exam itself is extremely helpful both in mentally and physically preparing yourself for success. By practicing before the real test, you will be able to familiarize yourself with the format. Furthermore, you’ll have built up muscle memory and know the pacing required to complete the assessment.

7. Follow your plan.

I know it’s cheesy, but the plan won’t work unless you do!

8. Go ace your exam(s).

Walk into the testing center well-rested and confident. A calm and focused mind will be your best asset. Nothing you do the morning of the test will bring your score up, so just give the exam your all. And remember, your test scores do not define who you are as a person. As long as you put in time and effort, be proud of your scores.

A Few More Tips

  • Try to stick to the schedule as best you can, but recognize that it’s flexible! If it gets too late or you are simply too busy to study that day, skip it. Your mental health should always be your first priority.
  • Make sure you take care of yourself. You should always remember to eat properly and stay hydrated, but during exam season it’s more important than ever.
  • Don’t compare your test prep with others’. Always keep in mind what’s best for you, and even if other people are doing more, don’t let it get to you.
  • Make sure to stay on top of other schoolwork. The last thing you want is another thing to stress about.
  • Form a study group (but only if you’ll work productively– don’t use it as an excuse to hang out with friends).
  • Turn your phone off, or at least put it face down. Enough said.
  • Good luck!

Photo Credit: Wadi Lissa

 

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