With one bout of exams just completed and another starting soon, you’re probably looking for a way to deal with the stress and anxiety that surrounds test writing. Whether dealing with a less-than-satisfactory grade or your not-so-great study skills, I have some advice for you.
First of all, planning is everything. It’s better to prevent a problem in the first place than to try to remedy it afterwards. Make sure you have a planner or a calendar where you can write down your due dates and exam dates. That way, they can’t sneak up on you. Then, you can plan when to start studying. I suggest starting two weeks before the test.
Use the first week to go over your notes, rewatch lecture captures if they’re available and make cue cards — it all depends on how you study best. The second week, go over your study notes or cue cards again. You’ll find that the extra week spent reviewing your notes will really help you get the information into your head.
Also, the great thing about the two-week reminder system is that, even if you procrastinate a bit, you’ll still get something in your head from studying every other day or two. It will alleviate the stress of cramming the last few days or the night before.
Make sure you know what you should be studying — what exactly is your professor going to focus on? Check ratemyprofessors.com, or ask any friends who’ve taken the class previously where the professor usually gets their questions from. I’ve done poorly on a few midterms because the teacher was testing solely from the textbook and I was studying only content from the notes. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Arts and Science Students’ Union office in Arts 218 for past exams.
Now, let’s say you’ve gotten a bad mark on your midterm. First things first, go to the exam review session. I know it sounds like a waste of time for some, but it’s really important. Not only does this let you know what areas you messed up on so you can better prepare for them next time but there is also always a possibility that a question that was right on your exam ended up getting marked wrong, especially if it was marked by a person and not a Scantron machine.
Finally, keep in mind that, although it feels like it, one exam is not the be-all and end-all of your academic life. You can always make it up. Let it be motivation for you to work even harder!