By Belen Tamariz, March 15 2022—
It’s midterm season, which means it’s time to brush up on those study techniques, tricks and tips for acing your next exam. As university students, we know how stressful exams can be and how the short-term solution of avoiding — otherwise known as procrastination — can easily lead to more problems as we are overwhelmed by the idea of exams.
For most of us, the experience of studying for an exam can be described using one word — panic. You look at the calendar and realize your first exam date slowly looming. You think about how much revision time you seem to have. All the different content, modules and topics on the exam.
After hours of doing anything but studying, you finally decide to settle down and get to work, only to realize it is too late, you are tired and the pile of information you do not remember learning gives you a headache. Panic starts to set in. To avoid this experience and enhance your studying experience to feel confident about your exam and ace it, follow these study and exam do’s and don’ts.
Smart study for success:
DO: Have a realistic and established schedule and study plan. Planning your study in advance will allow you to prepare and cover all the content you might need to know. Planning your time is better than not planning at all. You can do so by reading over the syllabus and utilizing the course grading, score breakdowns and percentage weights to determine what to prioritize.
DO: Break the material for the exam into manageable chunks using a time blocking technique. Focus on one topic at a time. You will feel more motivated and accomplished as you start to cross off things you know slowly.
DO: Try the famous Pomodoro 21:10 technique. Set a timer, study for 25 minutes and then move your body by taking a 10-minute break. Breaking your study time will make you more productive and help you focus. Regulate your study time.
DON’T: Dwell too long on anxious thoughts and overthink. Be proactive and work towards your goals.
DO: Keep up with your readings and lectures. Taking notes gradually throughout the semester solidifies everything you learn. I find it helpful to review for 15 minutes at the end of each day.
DO: Pause and look over the content you have learned after studying the material for a while. Try to explain and teach it to someone. This is a great way to realize the parts you still do not understand.
DO: Use a study playlist, whether it is meditative, soundtrack or classical music. Gauntlet Spotify Study Playlist. For real.
DO: Look over past exam papers released by the professor and do practice questions from the textbooks. Practice makes perfect. It will help you understand how questions will be structured and how to form your answers.
DON’T: Neglect yourself. Eat well, move your body and sleep. Sleep is crucial for your brain to store the information you have learnt long term.
Be good to yourself.
DO: Find what way you learn. Are you a visual or auditory learner? Adapt your study techniques to them.
DON’T: Memorize content. You are more likely to forget during the exam. Try to understand the theory.
DO: Make diagrams, infographics and use Smart study apps like Quizlet, Plantie and Flipd. Relate material to your life as it often helps you retain it longer. Use mnemonic devices to remember key information.
DO: Ask for help from peers, professor or TAs. Know your resources. Remember, lectures and textbooks are not your only option.
DON’T: Study where you will be distracted, for instance, on your bed. Choose your study environment carefully.
DO: Stay organized. Read over the syllabus and make sure you know the layout and content of the exam.
DO: You may have to put social events or activities on pause. But you should still make time to enjoy yourself, give yourself a break, stay hydrated, feed yourself and relax. Balance is key.
DON’T: Leave things to the last minute. Anything is better than cramming everything the night before.
In-person exam day expectations.
DO: Prepare properly. Have a good breakfast. Research and bring any allowed material you might need for the exam.
DO: Plan your time well to not forget something important.
DO: Read the instructions given on the front page of the exam carefully.
DON’T: Forget to plan your time for each question. You might become overwhelmed or lose track of time. Knowing how much time you should dedicate to each part of your exam is beneficial. Try to finish with some spare time to go over your answers and add information to them.
Virtual exam day expectations.
DO: Make sure you have a good computer and stable wifi. Have a good breakfast.
DO: Create or select a quiet and organized environment where you will be focused for the time necessary.
DO: Plan your time well to not forget when to start or end the online exam. You may fail the exam or get docked marks if you hand in the exam late even by a second.
DO: Read the instructions given on the front part of the virtual exam carefully. All important information is given here.
And finally self-love.
DO: Be calm and kind to yourself. Be proud of how far you have come.