Áine Kenny gives us her top tips for getting through exam season with minimal stress.
Exams are here, and we all know what that means- stress. I don’t know a single student who actually feels 100% prepared for any set of exams, so don’t worry. This is a list compiled by someone who just got through their Semester One exams, and if I can do it, anyone can.
1. Start studying early: We say this every time. “Ah I’ll start early with the study this year,” yet we never do it. I didn’t do it this year again, so please learn from my mistakes. Around week 8 or 9, start setting an hour or two aside each night to read a chapter from your textbook, a key reading or article. Make notes and file them away carefully. It’s frustrating trying to study when you still have continuous assessment to do, but even an hour each night will seriously help you when exams come around.
2. Study week: If you have a study week - use it wisely. Don’t use it to catch up on Pretty Little Liars. You’ll be surprised on how much you can actually get done in a week, so if you’ve left everything until now, do not panic. Set your alarm early and study all day so you have your evenings to relax. Study your last exams first and try to get as much material of these covered as possible. By the time you get to the last exam, you will be so tired you won’t be able to start leaning off anything.
3. Know how to study: If you have made it through college up until now and you still don’t know how to study, well done, but now it is crucial to find out what study methods suit you best. Most people are auditory, visual or kinetic learners. If you are an auditory learner, record your lectures with your phone. Ask permission off the lecturer first, you can put it on their desk at the top of the lecture hall. Then write out your own notes, and record these too. Keep reading over your notes while listening back to your recordings. If you are a visual learner, make your written notes as colourful as possible, and use spider diagrams and mind maps. If you are a kinetic leaner, you learn by doing. This is helpful if you do a lot of project based group work, but if you don’t, do not fear! Talk to your friends about the exam and if you are stuck, ask someone to show you how to do the question. Identify the instructions contained within the question, and follow them.
4. While studying: Turn off your phone or place it at the other side of the room on silent. Phones and technology are such a distraction and you cannot learn something if your attention is divided between your work and your Instagram. Try not to listen to music either, especially music with words. These are also a distraction. I find it helpful to chew gum while studying as I tend to clench my jaw due to stress. Set realistic targets- do not think you’ll be able to get an entire topic covered in one sitting. Write a list of what you have to study and tick each one off once its covered. Study in 45-50 minute blocks and take a ten minute break. Stretch and walk about. Try and take a long walk each day, even if it is just to get the shopping. People have a tendency to hunch over their desks which can make you tense. Study at home if you like home comforts and are not easily distracted, if you actively seek out your housemates to converse with, go to the library.
5. The night before: The night before the exam, or the morning of the exam if you have one in the afternoon, is important. Make sure you get a good nights sleep, it sounds incredibly cliché but if you are falling asleep in the exam you won’t perform to the best of your ability. Read over your notes and condense them into a few small flashcards to read. Try to take a break, you could watch an episode of a TV show. If you have left everything to the night before, try to get as much done before midnight. Get up early if you have to- but studying the night before/morning of is never a wise move.