Unless you plan on taking courses this upcoming summer, you may have realized that these are the last online exams we will be taking for the foreseeable future. Although the thought of resuming the normal college experience is exciting, there is no doubt that it is also quite nerve-racking. When the pandemic hit, professors were extremely understanding of their students’ circumstances. They made several changes to their course load to accommodate their students during this difficult time. For me, this included lenient due dates and flexible attendance. More notably, though, several exams became open-note due to the inability to prevent cheating completely.
It is understandable why anyone would be nervous that online exams are coming to an end. When I realized that my summer classes were possibly going to be in-person, the thought did not sit well with me. However, I am determined to make the switch back to in-person as easy as possible for myself and, hopefully, all of you as well!
Here are a few tips that have been helping me prepare:
1. Start making a habit of going to the library, even if you really would rather not.
One of my favorite activities during my freshman year of college (before the pandemic) was going to the library and “studying” with my roommates. We made some great memories sipping our Starbucks iced coffees at 3 a.m., trying to complete projects we had procrastinated on. Although sometimes we probably did not get as much work done as we would have liked, I believe going every day forced me to focus a little more when it came to my coursework. Since our classes have been online, the temptation of just jumping back into bed is way more appealing than sitting doing work. To combat this, I have recently started going to the library again, regardless of how tired I feel. Surprisingly, this has helped enormously when it comes to focusing on one task at a time. Not only that, but it has made my social anxiety that recently surfaced due to quarantine less consuming. So, although it may seem like a hassle, going to the library takes away the opportunity of crawling back into bed and ultimately forces you to study. By making a habit out of it now, you will be prepared to continue doing so in the future.
2. Plan out a good study schedule and test it out for a week.
Since many of my current finals consist of final essays and open note exams, I am not as stressed out about the end of the semester as usual. However, this has not stopped me from looking over my notes. I fully believe that this is the perfect time to figure out what study methods work best for you. Take advantage of this opportunity by testing out a consistent study schedule. Even if your exams are online and open-note, preparing for them will still help your grade. A lot of our exams still have time limits, which means you will not be able to look up every single answer. Besides that, you will only be setting yourself up for success in the future by creating the habit of studying regularly. Do yourself a favor and find ways that work best for you to become a proactive studier before the exams become in-person again!
3. Start a reliable study group.
By starting a study group, you can get into the routine of interacting with fellow students once again. Especially if you learn more by discussing problems with others, this is a great way to gain the motivation to study. Not only that, but it gives you an excuse to connect with people you lost contact with over quarantine. If you came to college during the pandemic, don’t worry! Starting a study group is an excellent way to meet new people. I know it can be nerve-racking reaching out to people you don’t know, but it’s totally worth it. It won’t hurt just sending out a message on GroupMe or any social media platform to see if someone responds.
4. Prepare for your classes before they start in the fall.
I know many people had difficulty remembering when assignments were due since the only reminders we received were emails and online announcements. It became effortless to just close our laptops and forget every responsibility we had regarding school. However, I made it a goal at the beginning of each semester during quarantine to put in all my classes and their assignment due dates on my calendar. Not only did this allow me to remember each assignment, but it also got me more motivated for my studies.
5. Take the time to focus on your mental health.
One of the most important things to remember is that your mental health comes first. If you are panicking about in-person exams and classes, please talk to someone about it. Whether it is a friend, family member, professor or counselor, it's always a good idea to speak up about how you are feeling. I promise you are not the only one who is feeling this type of anxiety. If you rather not talk to someone about it, make an effort to journal and practice breathing exercises. These can help ground you and really connect with your emotions, and ultimately decrease your stress if done consistently.
5. Remember, you have done it all before!
When it comes to in-person exams, this is no one’s first rodeo! If you have done it before, there is no reason you won’t be able to do it again. So, every time you feel concerned about in-person exams, remember that you are fully capable of success.