I know you just read that title and exclaimed, “Exams? Prep? Already?” But I checked my calendar and today is exactly three weeks until my first exam. Initially, I thought that sounded very far away from now as I still have final essays and midterms to complete. But I’ve noticed that I sometimes neglect my studying until the last minute and at U of T, time flies very quickly. I’ve decided to be proactive in my studying…and not just because I tend to have scrap paper, notes, and handouts everywhere at this time of year. Seriously, my room is an explosion of academic work and I can’t escape it.
I have three exams this December and luckily, they are spaced out between a couple of days. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about having three back-to-back exams or two exams scheduled for the same time, but thankfully these issues can be resolved for you by December 1st. I feel like this semester has really flown by and I can’t believe I’m almost half-finished my 3rd year. I’ve tried various techniques throughout my undergrad regarding studying for exams, but something that I sometimes forget and need to do this year is actually prepare for exams.
Preparing for exams involves many steps, but I’ve noticed that these three particular ideas are things that I need to implement more often:
I need to clean up my work space and organize my notes/worksheets. I’m notorious for having a not-so-clean work space. If I see an empty area on my desk, it’ll be filled with papers in less than a minute. But working in a cluttered work space can not only be distracting, but also not helpful in beginning the studying process. Every time I get a worksheet from class, print out an assignment sheet, or make some notes on a scrap piece of paper, it seems to just get randomly strewn across my desk. So, I’ve decided to organize all my papers in multiple binders divided by subject and type of paper (e.g. lecture notes, handouts, syllabi).
I need to create a tentative study schedule. I should place emphasis on the word “tentative”. There are still 3 weeks left in the term, so starting the studying process right now may not go as planned, especially as I’ve noticed that sometimes things come up. But because we’re still far enough from the exam period that we don’t have to worry about cramming (yet), I can realistically look at how much studying I need to do (because I also have an issue with underestimating how much time it takes to complete something). Now I’ll have ample time to see how much material I need to review, create a rough guideline for how long it will take me to complete studying each of my course materials, and place them into a tentative study schedule (Google calendar!).
I need to examine what course materials I don’t understand and be prepped for office hours. Sometimes, reviewing my lecture notes and course materials goes out the window in place of keeping up with assignments and other commitments. Now that I’m caught up on readings, I have one less thing to worry about on my plate. However, September feels like it was a veryyy long time ago and I don’t remember everything I’ve learned since September. With that being said, after looking through my course materials, I’ll be able to see what concepts I don’t understand at all (even after reviewing them) and I’ll be able to go to office hours. I’ve been fortunate that my professors this term have provided me with multiple times on a weekly basis where I’m able to come into their offices and ask any questions. I’ll also be able to ask more about the format of the exam and any other lingering questions I may have.
Prepping for exams already may be something that’ll make you groan with disgust (I know I did). But in a couple weeks, I will have a clearer head and idea of what I need to complete regarding studying for exams. Also, mark your calendars for Exam Jam on Thursday, December 8! Your professor may be hosting a review session so check regularly for updates and my favourite part is the free coffee. Stay strong U of T, we’re almost at the end!