Prepare Yourself to Get Quality Work Done this Exam Season with These Tips

It's time to get serious. Finals exams are right around the corner, but no worries! We've got you covered with these four tips on how to get it all done efficiently. 

1. Write it out

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Even the thought of studying for a final exam in a course with a lot of content can be daunting and finding the will to start can be one of the hardest parts.

To get myself to start studying for a final, I always make one sheet listing all of the topics that will or might be on the exam. Usually, a professor will focus each lecture on one or a few different topics and within that sub-topics. So, go through each one and write them down. By doing this, it allows for a better understanding of how much work you have to get done. Also, it feels amazing when you cross them off one-by-one.

This is a great first step that will get the ball rolling for the rest of your study sessions.

2. Schedule

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Having many exams to study for in a short period of time (because obviously you're a university student, and these things happen), makes it hard to balance between each subject. After writing out the topics for each exam, it's important to think about how much time you need to devote to each exam.

This doesn’t have to be blocking out every hour of every day leading up to the exams, but if this works for you go for it! It’s good to look back on each course, maybe in one you rocked your midterm and just need to review the material to ace the exam. Or maybe in another course you got lost and need to devote more time to it. Make an easy-to-follow schedule or to do list breaking down what you'll be studying in the morning, afternoon and evening. 

Another tip is to also schedule 30-minute break times or a time that you have to get done a certain amount of work. You'll see a difference in your studying if you're working towards a goal. 

3. Switch it up

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The times when I feel the most sick of studying are when I’ve been using the same study method all day. For example, I used to only write out notes on my lectures and read them over to study. This can be an effective study method for some, but trust me when I say it can become pretty boring.

It’s important to try different study techniques to stay refreshed, do some practice problems that you find online, make flashcards, call your friend and explain a topic to them or just explain it out loud in order to keep your brain constantly awake enough to process more information.

One of my favorite things to do is close up my books at the end of a study session and quickly write the most important things I learned–it’s a great way to make the info stick.

4. Have a plan for each study session

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I find it easy to get lost in a hard topic or get down on yourself because what you're trying to study isn’t staying in your brain.

A great way to prevent this is to go into your study session with a plan. Maybe one day I want to spend 2 hours with a certain topic or do 30 practice problems. Having a plan and a task to get accomplished makes me a lot more productive and prevents me from spending half an hour staring at a question I don’t get.

5. Find a quiet space 

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This one is super important. We've all done it: inviting a friend to study with you and then suddenly it turns into a gossip session instead of a study session. If you get distracted easily or can't resist talking about what happened at the party last weekend, then don't study with anyone at all. 

Carleton has a few great places where you can study. Spaces like the third floor or fifth floor library, or even the resource centre on the fourth floor in the river building where silence is expected is a great way to stay focused and get a lot of work done. 

These tips are what have worked for me to stay sane during exams. My last tip doesn’t really pertain to studying, but I recommend going out and doing something fun at the end of exams, and the relief has set in. Maybe that’s going to dinner with friends or buying yourself something you’ve been eyeing for a while. Whatever it is, it’s important to reward your dedication during exams.

Ultimately, we can’t control how hard a test will be and what kind of tricky questions we will encounter so we should celebrate the work we've put into it. Remember this exam season, grades aren't everything but they are imporant!