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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Exam season is a stressful time for everyone, from freshmen to seniors. Whether it’s your second time going through it or your seventh, finding the perfect studying method can be quite tough when you don’t really know where to start. With no class schedule to build studying time around, it can actually be harder to be productive during exam season. Here are some tips and tricks on how to maximize efficiency during exam season.

Recognize your strengths

Depending on your program, you may have multiple in-class final exams or you may have multiple take-home exams. In the case where you have both, it’s important to determine where your strengths lie. Are you great at writing essays or does it take you hours to write a single page? Do you easily retain information or do you need to study for multiple days to remember basic concepts? Everyone has different strengths and it’s important to play into them during exam season. Don’t push off that essay until the last minute if you know that realistically, you need at least a week to properly write it.

Determine your priorities

Take a good look at your exam schedule. Which exams do you have first? Logically, those should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to studying. Make sure to write down deadlines and exam dates in your calendar or somewhere readily accessible so you don’t forget anything!

Establish what your end goals are

At the end of the day, exam season is an occasion to feel proud of yourself for all the work you put in during the term. Thus, it’s important to establish some academic goals. Are you looking to achieve or maintain a certain CGPA? Are you hoping to make it on the dean’s honour list? Whatever it is, goals are a great way to remain focused and motivated throughout exam season. Without a goal, you may wonder what’s even the point of trying if you have no accomplishment to look forward to. Goals don’t have to be extravagant, either. If your end goal is to simply pass all your classes, you can definitely use that as motivation to push forward. No goal is one size fits all. What matters is establishing a goal that you can find pride in once accomplished.

Create a daily schedule

When classes are in session, you operate around a certain routine of classes, work, extracurriculars, and other activities which tend to make it easier to allocate certain times to studying since your class schedule structures your day-to-day life. Without any obligation to be on campus, you have a lot more freedom which might make it harder to garner the motivation needed to study, especially when all your friends are all free as well. This is why creating a daily schedule based on personal criteria to follow regularly may help you be more productive. Say you usually wake up around 9 in the morning and don’t feel quite awake until close to noon: it may be around then that you should head out to the library and dedicate the next few hours of the day to studying.

Find a good balance

Spending entire days studying or working on papers isn’t always healthy. In fact, doing so may be counterproductive and make you less likely to retain information or do quality work. The key is finding a balance that works for you. Some people can spend a whole day in the library and remain productive and refreshed, but just because it works for some doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Don’t be afraid to take a walk, eat a meal, go to the gym, or spend some time with a friend in between studying. Even though it may not seem like it, exam season isn’t synonymous with dedicating every hour of the day to your textbooks and taking breaks can be productive.

Know your needs and limits

It’s important to take care of yourself during exam season. In fact, better results come when students remain properly rested and fed during exam season. Although it may be tempting to skip meals and lose hours of sleep to study during this time of the year, it may lead to a lack of productivity due to fatigue and hunger. If you start feeling hungry or tired while studying, listen to your body and you will find yourself more motivated to study once that need is satiated. If you’re someone that usually needs eight hours of sleep to function, that will not change during exam season. It’s better to stick with a steady sleep schedule than to cram notions in the early morning hours. The truth is, you most likely won’t remember what you read at 2:00 in the morning.

Make it fun!

Exam season may sound like a dreadful time, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to make the exam period a little bit more fun. For starters, if you’re someone that thrives in group settings, you can organize study dates with fellow classmates or your friends where you all gather and share ideas. If you’re someone that works more efficiently alone, you can study in different locations to add variety to your routine. There are multiple nice study spots on campus that you can alternate between. If it’s nice outside, you can even enjoy a study session in a park. Other ideas include making a study playlist filled with some of your favourite songs, establishing a reward system where you treat yourself to a fun activity after spending a certain amount of hours of studying, and so on.

At the end of the day, exam season is truly just the culmination point of the semester before a nice long four-month break! Although stress levels may be high during the next month, just remember that summer is right around the block. This is the final push before the end, so just give it your all and keep these tips in mind as you study. Good luck!

19 years old uottawa communication student writer