Grab your mates, get festive, and spend little to no money.
Repeat after me, bad grades are not the end of the world! But it sure will feel great, if you can get through this exam season with your sanity and decent marks. The trick? A good balance of strategy and a sense of humour. Just follow the steps below and you should be good to go!
CREATE YOUR MASTER PLAN
1: To Succeed You Gotta Start Really Really Small
First up, recognize that days will feel like they are moving fast, like really fast. So, any small actions you take now, will have a huge impact in the long run.
Small things you can start with:
- What days are your exams on?
- What is the material you are going to need to study?
- How many hours do you think you many need to dedicate?
- What outfit will you be wearing on the day?
- What kind of food will you be having after?
These are all incredibly useful to know and especially the last one.
2: Block Out Your Time
Scheduling is key to a happy study approach.
After estimating the number of hours necessary to get a good grade (ahem, pass), block out the time in your calendar to work on specific projects.
2: Work In Time Slots
Don't let this be YOU!
Yes, it's going to be tough to pick studying over Netflix binge-watching, but guess who won't need to do extra work over the summer break or find an extra $800 to resit the paper you may fail.
The best way to do this is to work in time slots - Study for 1 hour, eat, rest for 15 minutes, study for 2 hours, eat, rest for 15 minutes.
Repeat as necessary.
If you are using spaced repetition flashcards to remember exam material, you should already be familiar with the idea that good things take time. Don't try to cram it all in.
3: Assemble ALL Necessary Equipment
Like a surgeon that has set out their instruments, you too will need to create your own little operating theater on which you will perform the greatest miracle of all, studying!
Pens, pencils, textbooks, notes, highlighters, those black-out things nobody uses anymore, study snacks, your grandmas pie, water cause hydration is important..
Anything you think you'll need around you so you don't get up and leave that desk until you finish that 1 hour of studying or as long as is necessary.
4: Use Incentives TO GET THROUGH THE HARD BITS
Studying at best, is tolerable, but some subjects are going to be harder than others. Personally, there are always one or two chapters per paper that are just booooring.
To get through that material you are going to need to bribe yourself like you're bribing your sibling who you just hit too hard. Bribe yourself with chocolate, movie nights, social outings or anything that will work.
5. Divide and Conquer then Divide Some More
What does Trump, your mother and your exam strategy have in common? They all had to be strategic in their approach to defeat the enemy. Trump had an election campaign, your mother had you to deal with and you, well, you have your exams. So, let's stay focused!
Divide doesn't just mean breaking everything into small parts that are easily achievable. Instead of listing everything that needs to be done you can try estimating the time that is needed to complete them.
For a final assignment paper, that means:
1h - research and brainstorming
1h - first draft of introduction and 1/2 body
1h - 1/2 body and conclusion
1h - first edit
For exams you can try a similar approach:
1h - key topics of Week 2
1h - practice answering old exam questions
1h - practice essay writing
6. Step Away From The Coffee (or anything else!)
I don't want to sound like your mother, by for the love of all you hold dear, stop abusing the caffeine and the alcohol!
Overdoing it on coffee or stimulants will only prove distracting. Relatively stressful situations like an upcoming exam or job interview, trigger an increase of adrenaline in the body, which means you are extra jittery, extra energetic and actually less likely to focus on one task for a long period of time.
Instead, sip your normal dose of caffeine and lots of extra water.
You could also try treating your body better, by planning ahead and preparing a couple of easy and cheap meals! ;)
7. Follow the Wise Words of Uncle Dumbledore
If you were able to guess where I am going with this, then you deserve the biggest Harry Potter fan award.
"You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”
If something does not make sense, reach out to your lecturers, the academic advice team, your friends or anyone that can offer constructive and helpful feedback.
University is not a place you have to go through alone, so if you are finding it overwhelmingly difficult and unbearable, know that you can speak to someone about it. We are all going through this together, in our time, doing the best we can!