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10 tips to survive final exams

by Alena Blanes

Exam season is upon us. 

If you’re like me you might be surprised that it’s already December. This semester has been a roller-coaster for us all and as the holiday season quickly approaches, it can only mean one thing for us students — exams.

The next few weeks may seem like a scary ride as we all push forward to finish our semesters, but don’t forget we’re all in the same boat.

No matter if your exams fall in December or January, we got you covered. Before you start panicking, take a look through our 10 exam survival tips:

Someone unrolling a plan

1. Make a plan

Before diving right into the books, make a plan on what you have to go over. Do you need to re-read a chapter? (Or maybe seven?) Perhaps you have a few lectures worth of slides to skim through. Whatever the case, write it down and realistically plan how much you can get done. Most importantly — don’t start the night before.

 

2. Find your learning style 

Learning styles with explanations

Did you know there are 7 kinds of learning styles? Everybody absorbs and recalls information differently, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t learn the same way as your peers.

Find out your learning style above and tailor your study needs accordingly.

Coffee shop

3. Switch up your study location 

Do you always study in your room, at the kitchen table, or on your bed? Consider switching it up and try an empty classroom, the LRC, or a cafe. It’ll keep you refreshed and motivated and allow you to explore a new part of your school or city. Lately, I’ve been studying in coffee shops and I find the clean space and smell of coffee keeps me focused. Plus the thought of people around me keeps me from going on my phone every three minutes.

Table with coloured pens and sticky notes

4. Rediscover coloured pens

There’s a reason we played with markers when we were kids. Not only is it fun, colour coding is a huge help when it comes to decoding your notes and putting all your information into categories. They actually work as a visual mnemonic so they help make the studying process easier. Plus who wouldn’t want an excuse to colour a little?

Cartoon character, Spongebob, saying "Break Time"

5. Don’t skimp on breaks!

When you’ve got a lot of content to cover it can sometimes make you feel a little weighed down. But don’t forget to get up and take a stretch every 15 minutes or so. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another session.

Still not convinced? Check out our article on the importance of breaks.

Girl sleeping

6. Sleep

Seriously. The importance of a good night’s sleep is so underrated. Nothing is worse than getting three hours of sleep and then struggling to drag yourself out of bed for an exam the next day.

Avoid this scenario by prioritizing sleep into your study schedule. Instead of staying up until 2 a.m. scrambling to cover content, use your time wisely and focus on key concepts that you know you need to work on. You may have to say no to that shopping trip or night out but you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not dozing off during your two-hour exam.

Having trouble falling asleep? Check out our sleep tips article.

Person writing out notes

7. Write your notes 

Whether you type out your notes or scribble them down during lectures, consider re-writing them into neatly condensed sheets. Not only will you be re-reading them as you go, but you also get an opportunity to revisit any concepts or terms you may have missed during lecture time.

And if you aren’t taking notes during class, you may want to start to save yourself the stress and scramble at the end of the semester. Trust me on this one.

Fruit and granola

8. Hydrate & fuel up!

This might seem like an obvious tip but it’s easy to forget the importance of properly fueling our bodies, especially during exam season. Drinking enough water is important for reducing fatigue, increasing energy and helping with concentration.

And let’s not forget about food! I know it’s tempting to lean towards microwave meals and take-out pizza but these foods just aren’t optimal for our brains — especially when we have to take in a significant amount of information. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips while studying, opt for hydrating, nutrient-rich snacks such as almonds, berries, and chopped vegetables.

Jim from TV show 'The Office' whispering

9. Keep the end in sight 

I know it feels like exams are the end of the world (especially after the strike that threw us all off) but don’t succumb to procrastination just yet. Visualize yourself having success on your exams and let that be motivation amidst the distractions of Netflix.

Thumbs up

10. Let us help you

Lastly, don’t forget about all the great resources available to you on campus! Both Humber and Guelph-Humber have additional services available as we push to finish our semesters.


 

You got this!

Stressed with your workload? Take advantage of IGNITE’s Health and Wellness services as well as Good2Talk and On-Campus Counselling Services.