Cheat Sheet for Finishing the Semester Strong

With the semester being more than halfway over, now is the time that students are beginning to think about the end of the term. This means projects, late midterms, group study sessions, and final exams. For most, the next month and a half is a crazy, busy, stressful time, when there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. For first years, this time is difficult because it’s the first time you’re facing university level exams. For fourth years, this time, while stressful, can be almost melancholic as it’s another “last” time you’ll do something in your university career. No matter where you stand in your academic career, it remains important to work hard, study smart, and do your best so that you can finish the semester as strong as you started it. To help you out I’ve made a cheat sheet (everyone’s favourite thing about exams) to get you through this stressful time. Read on for helpful tips and tricks.

Make sure you’re on track with your syllabi.

Maybe you’re behind on readings. Maybe you’ve been letting a due date creep up just a little too close before getting started on an assignment. This is the time to change that. As a proactive student, it’s important in this period leading up to exams to get on top of readings so that you don’t head into the exam period unprepared. While it may seem more fun in the short term to catch up with Netflix instead of your textbook, you’ll be thankful that you made the decision to put the work in now. This way instead of learning material the night before an exam you’re only reviewing the concepts that you’ve previously learnt.

 

Check your final exam schedule. (Know which are written exams and which are take homes)

I can’t stress this enough. You can’t plan ahead if you don’t know what’s coming. Go on uOzone and check what dates your exams are. By doing this you can plan your studying accordingly. Also, check your syllabus for each class. See if the professor explains the format of the exam, if not, go to their office hours and talk to them about it. Preparing for a multiple-choice exam is extremely different than preparing for a long answer, essay based exam.

Start planning your study time for finals.

Once you’ve looked over your exam schedule and the format of your exam, it is time to sit down and figure out a study plan. Maybe you’re stronger in one course than another so you know you won’t need as much study time. Perhaps you really struggled with a particular concept, and you haven’t reviewed it since the midterm in early October. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. Look at grades that you’ve gotten back- concepts that were difficult before may need extra time now. Another trick is to use past exams as study material for the final. Write out the questions and take the midterm again on your own time. Then, grade it and see if you get the same mark, a worse mark, or better. Also use that midterm to create questions on later material in the course.

Make sure to stay healthy.

Stress can make people act differently than they otherwise would. Make sure to maintain balance in your life as the exam period draws closer. You hear it all the time, but it is important to make sure that you’re getting a proper night’s rest, eating right, and dressing appropriately for the weather. Ya, it’s totally ~fall vibes~ to wear your denim skirt and a cropped sweater, but does it actually keep you warm? Layer up when you go outside. It’s 100% possible to dress cute, while still being adequately prepared for the weather. The last thing you want is to be sick during exams.

For cute fall friendly outfits check out these links:

https://www.hercampus.com/school/u-ottawa/5-essential-fall-pieces & https://www.hercampus.com/school/u-ottawa/fall-celeb-inspiration-get-look

Take time to decompress and find balance.

It is entirely possible to over prepare. Studying 24/7 can be just as bad for you as not studying at all. Make sure to give yourself breaks. Check out the cool fall foliage, go for a stroll along the canal, or even just grab coffee with your pals and talk about something other than school. If you love exercising, don’t erase it from your life to make more time for studying- it’s important to keep doing what’s good for you! 

There are also ways to make studying less stressful. If you’re having a hard time getting through a chapter put gummy bears at the bottom of each page, that way when you finish the page you get a little reward to motivate you. Studying with friends is another way to make studying more fun. With my friends, I like to make some cookies and gather at someone’s kitchen table so that we all have company while we get our work done.  A bonus to this is when everyone’s finished you can all watch a movie, or do something fun together!

Exams don’t have to be torturous. Take the time to figure out what works best for you and then roll with it. The most important thing is to not sacrifice your well-being trying to achieve some “perfect” grade. A+s are cool and all, but at the end of the day, when it comes time to graduate, or ten years from now when you’re super successful and living your best life, you won’t remember the grades you got in every class. What you will remember are things like taco nights with friends, or hanging out with your bestie at your favourite coffee shop. With that in mind, study smart, finish strong, and make the best of the rest of your fall semester.