Finals are fast-approaching, and that pool of dread in your stomach won’t help you achieve your goals. Luckily, there are things you can do to prepare for your finals that won’t leave you drained but rather increase your productivity.
1. Clear your space, clear your mind
Start studying immediately. Diving in right away and being consistent — whether it’s taking five minutes to do practice question drills or reading your notes on the bus — will allow your brain to accumulate knowledge overtime. This means you don’t have to cram 48 hours before.
Decluttering physically allows you to declutter mentally. Cleaning your study space and keeping only essentials maximizes productivity. Try emulating the exam environment to get into the right mindset and be prepared. Keeping a clear mindset and study space helps you focus, and it is good practice for the exam.
2. Study smart, not hard
Although tempting, memorizing facts and regurgitating them is useless. You come to university to get a degree that you will actually use, not store information into your head so you can dispose of it the moment you walk out of the exam room.
Don’t study like it’s a boring job that you can’t wait to escape from. The key is to study actively instead of passively. For subjects relying on memorization, make connections — mind maps, flashcards, listening to notes — these are all ways to get your brain to learn information creatively and effectively.
Do every single question for subjects requiring more practice, if you have time. If not, master difficult topics first and move onto those requiring less revision. There are tons of examples from your course material to practice from. Asking for help, making formula sheets and doing timed practice papers are good ways to analyze and prioritize your weaknesses so you can conquer those first.
3. Take care of yourself
Students usually scoff at the idea that they can do better academically if they take care of their health. But since university student life is hectic and stressful, it can lead to unhealthy habits that are hard to break. The key to solving this is balance.
You want to have an effective routine that allows you to stay sane while achieving your academic goals. The most common issue is sleep. Students should be getting at least six to eight hours of sleep every night. It’s not worth staying up all night to sit in your classes like a zombie. Taking breaks is also important. Try a new study technique — there are tons to choose from — and decide which works best for you.
Take a break when you’ve finished a task and do things that boost your energy levels. Reading for fun, going on a walk, grabbing a healthy snack and having a quick chat with someone are all uplifting and relaxing activities.
Resetting your brain is important in performing optimally during your next chunk of study time.
At the end of the day, sacrificing your health for good grades just isn’t worth it. You don’t want to look back on these years thinking they stunted your growth, you want to develop skills and habits that help you in the future.
There is nothing worse than planning a productive study routine and ending up scrolling through Instagram like a zombie instead. Not only does this push back that carefully-crafted study plan, but if it becomes a habit, you will naturally associate study time with feeling useless.
There are tons of websites programmed to prevent distractions, such as Freedom or StayFocused. Heck, slap a sticky note onto anything that might be a distraction with a
guilt-tripping message such as, “If Harry Potter could fight a gigantic
anxiety-inducing snake at 12 years old, I’m pretty sure you can study for that math exam.”
5. During the exam
Exam day is here. Now is the time to quickly go through the questions. Don’t take an hour to read through every single one. Instead, skim the paper for any trick questions or ones you often struggle with and star them so you know to approach them differently.
Do easy questions first, star the difficult ones, move on and come back to the troubling ones later — you’ll probably have a better idea of how to answer them.
Lastly, don’t panic. Try your absolute best and think rationally. Oftentimes, students get so stressed out during an exam that all logic flies out of their head and the material they studied so hard for just doesn’t come to them.
Don’t be afraid of putting in some extra effort during exams season — instead, plan, prepare and get it done right.
Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor