Studying for exams can be very overwhelming. How do you organize your time to optimize the few days you have between exams? What if you have 3 exams in 2 days? Exam season is never fun.
As a fourth year student, I have gone through several exam seasons, with extremely different exam schedules. Here are my top survival tips of getting through an exam season successfully.
1) Create a time schedule
If you have multiple exams in a short period of time, pre-plan how you want to break up your study days. This doesn’t mean that your timing won’t change, but at least if you have an estimated amount of time you want to spend on each class, it can help shape how you approach the day.
2) Give yourself breaks
No one can study for 5 hours on end. Put a timer on for 50 minutes and work hard. Then, the last 10 minutes of the hour can be your deserved break time. Of course, you can adjust this to fit your needs, but I find that 45-50 minutes is as long as I can go without needing a minute to recharge. I find having an actual timer going helps me remain true to the 50 minutes as I can check how much time I have left and that motivates me to just finish the time that I’ve set for myself. Breaks allow for blood to flow to your brain, which will help you think and remember better when you get back to it.
3) Eat right and stay active
We all love coffee or tea to keep us alert, but it is imperative that you are taking time to eat properly so that your body has the nutrients to stay naturally alert. A great alternative to coffee is eating an apple! The natural sugars that an apple contains actually makes you feel more awake (just like a coffee) and is slowing released throughout your body so it also lasts a long time.
Staying active is harder, as doing a full workout usually takes at least an hour out of your day. When exams are looming, that hour might seem like the difference between a 60% and a 70% (even though it probably isn’t). Exercising actually is really good for your brain functionality as it gets blood, oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Also, if you don’t want to commit to an hour to do a workout, use that 10 minute break from before to walk around the library.
4) Note Taking and Highlighting
I am an avid highlighter to the point that it might not be helpful. But what makes it helpful is the colour differentiation from the white background of the paper. Yellow does stimulate brain activity and draws our eyes to what should be remembered. I also love to write my notes out in different colours. I know this might seem tedious (and sometimes it really is) but if there is a concept that I am struggling with, writing it out in colour might change your literal perspective on the information. For more on how colour affects our memory, here is a quick breakdown.
There is nothing that replaces sleep. You need to recharge to be able to fully digest the information you are studying. Maybe you don’t need to get 10 hours of sleep, but anything less than 7 will leave you less alert when writing your exam and that is when mistakes can happen. So don’t look at sleep as a waste of time; look at it as the time for the information you studied to sink into your memory.
And that’s it! There’s many more things you can do to help you study (study with a group, say your notes out loud, record yourself saying the information and play it back on the bus…) but these are the top things that really help get me through the exam season.
Good luck on your exams everyone!