Just the thought of studying for finals at this point can be daunting. It can be one of the most stressful times of the year, and it can really take a toll on your mind and body. What can we do to prepare ourselves for the next few weeks of stress and studying? Here, we’ll be discussing methods of reducing the amount of stress that can accumulate over the finals season using both preventative measures as well as stress management strategies.
The article is broken up into three parts including steps in preparation before exam week, tips on studying as well as strategies for stress management. To start off, we’ll talk about the preparation needed before studying. Even though the exam season has not started yet, you may want to be proactive and plan ahead by doing some of the following:
1. Master to-do list
Writing out all the things you need to do during the final season may be very intimidating. However, it can help you plan your time accordingly! Be sure to consider your schedule (check your SSC!), your priorities (e.g. how much is each exam worth?), and the difficulty of the subjects (e.g. how confident are you with the material?). Also, consider how you want to study for each subject. It may be helpful to keep the format of the exam in mind, and tailor your exam strategies towards it. If it is heavily concept-based, a mind-map or diagram may be more helpful. If it is a multiple-choice exam, cue cards may be your friends.
2. Plan the hours
Schedule the actions on the to-do list with estimations of how much time you will need for each assignment. Keeping a schedule can help you keep on track and motivate you on days where it may be hard to get started. Try to give yourself extra time for wiggle room for unexpected events, and be honest with how much time you will need for each assignment. Also, don’t forget that you have to take breaks as well!
As we move into the weeks of the final, you can start implementing your plan studying. The key to success lies in efficient studying. However, efficiency can be difficult to achieve as it often involves you knowing how, where, when and with whom you study best.
3. Remember to study smart
The most important thing to highlight here is the difference between active and passive learning. Some people learn best by creating diagrams. Others learn best by explaining the material to others. What they all have in common though, is they all involve you actively thinking about the concepts. Find out which strategies work best for you, but make sure you are actively learning the material!
4. Find a spot of focus
Study spots may be hard to find during finals season as the libraries fill up. Also, consider changing up your study spots every few hours to refocus yourself. Research has also been shown that moving around improves retention of the material!
5. Know your energy cycle
During what times of the day do you have the most energy? You may want to capitalize on this time as much as possible! Leave your laundry or times for your friends until later. And while you capitalize on that time, remember to schedule in breaks when you start getting tired. Maybe go to the gym or a run, take a lunch break. Your body needs good nutrition and exercise as well.
6. Study with friends!
Although, friends can be distracting at times when you get side tracked in your conversations, they can be amazing study partners as well. You can share your knowledge, help quiz each other, and have someone to talk to about your stress!
Lastly and most importantly, it is important to take care you yourself during exam times. Studying effectively requires that your mind and body are in the right place, so here are some reminders for the exam season.
Sleep is very important to your brain, including for memory consolidation. Although it may be tempting to stay up all night studying, keeping a sleep schedule is important to get your circadian rhythm in check. It can also help you with your energy level on the day of your exam!
Look up different studying snacks you may want to make. Your brain needs glucose for it to work, so you should snack on some carbs when you get hungry.
Take some time off during your studies for destressing. Take a few deep breaths when things get overwhelming. Go for a walk. Take a bath or a shower. There are many stress management strategies you can look up on https://students.ubc.ca/health-wellness/self-help/stress-anxiety. Keep a few strategies in your back pocket just in case you need it.
Planning ahead, studying smart, and taking care of yourself are all key strategies in ensuring a successful exam season. Hopefully some of these tips were helpful to you. Good luck on your exams!
Post written by: Rit C.
Image credit: Unsplash