In the wise words of Ned Stark: “Winter is coming.”
However, with winter comes . . . exams. Did you feel a sudden shudder ripple through your body, too? Recently, I conversed with an Academic Success Centre learning strategist, Dr. Graham, and learned some tips to keep in mind as we transition into this season. Here are a few of her tips, as well as mine:
Catch up on missed lectures/readings/homework.
It’s okay if you took a week off from reading and homework and never got around to doing it, but now’s the time to dust them off and catch up. As well, if you missed a lecture, ask someone if you can borrow their notes. Once you’ve got all of that done, you’ll have your material set and ready to go and be able to start studying.
Ask your profs questions.
As I mentioned in a previous post, your profs are The Wise Ones, so if you have any questions about lectures, readings, or homework, write them out as a list and make a point of visiting your profs after lectures or during their office hours.
Start reviewing now.
“Give yourself time,” Dr. Graham advises. Print out your lecture notes, readings, course syllabi, and any other exam prep material your profs give you, organize them, and then create a plan of action. This can include looking over notes, reviewing certain readings, and doing practice questions. By reviewing early and working your way through the material bit by bit, you’ll be able to avoid last-minute exam-cramming stress in the form of excessive chocolate consumption.
Use a variety of study techniques.
As Dr. Graham notes, looking over your notes passively is a good start, but it isn’t enough. Try using a variety of study techniques to interact with the material actively. This can mean highlighting and annotating your notes as you read them, orally summarizing key points of the lesson, teaching course material to others, drawing visual pictures to go with concepts, or, if you’re Hannah Montana, making a rap song about the bones in your body. Do what works best for you. Also, check if your course has old exams available. By doing them, you’ll know whether or not your study methods are working for you.
Don’t neglect sleep, exercise, and socializing.
A little less academic, but a necessary tip nonetheless. As Dr. Graham explains, many students tend to sacrifice their healthy habits for more study time. However, the quality of your study time is equally as important as the quantity of it. That is to say, the key to studying isn’t excessively long hours locked in your dorm room, but efficient studying in moderation. “Utilize your best motivators,” Dr. Graham suggests, whether it be in the form of a cup of tea or a study session in your friend’s dorm room, to make your allocated study time most efficient. However, make sure to get the appropriate amount of rest, exercise, and social time, too.
Lastly, don’t stress!
Remember that the purpose of these exams isn’t to make you fail (no matter how plausible it seems when you glance at the exams). The purpose is to test your knowledge, understanding, and communication of your thoughts. As long as you start studying early and study efficiently, you will succeed.
Though we’re barreling headfirst into exam season and many long study nights to come, don’t forget to tilt your head up and admire the winter wonderland around you as well. Though the reasons for noticing may be slightly different, take a lesson from the Starks and be aware of winter, for winter is coming.
What do you plan on doing to gear up for exam season? Let me know in the comments below or through @lifeatuoft on Twitter!