I want to Ace those exams

I’ve heard that I need to plan ahead over and over again. And, by my 5th year of undergrad, you might think that I would (or should) have this down to a science.

At times, I still find myself struggling to find balance. Between my late night cramming sessions and overwhelmingly long to-do lists, I sometimes find it hard to believe that I still haven’t discovered the strategy for permanent awesomeness. I used to (and still occasionally) get disappointed with myself for not thinking ahead enough, or being proactive enough, or being efficient enough to maximize every second of my day. Over time though, I have become kinder to myself, and am slowly embracing the imbalances in my life.

It’s okay. It’s okay to feel imbalanced, because the balance between academics, work, extracurricular activities, and everything else that makes up our lives is constantly shifting. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, week to week. And it may always be in flux.

It’s important to forgive yourself for not feeling completely in control because that will help you take care of your self-esteem. Still, it can be useful to have some handy tips and strategies in your back pocket for those out-of-balance moments.

With midterms around the corner, here are some tips that can help you prepare for academic success:

  1.    Plan Ahead: I love lists. It helps me set my intentions for the day, prioritize tasks, and visualize what my day will look like.
  •      Looking ahead to the next week and next month allows you to prepare yourself (mentally and physically) for success. Even if your plans change, it is a great way to prepare for what’s to come.
  1. Be okay with saying no: As a people pleaser, this has been something I struggled with a lot. A friend kindly reminded me that I am not a bad person for caring for me. Though it’s great to give back,
  •      It is okay to say ‘not this time’ to one more event or one more volunteer gig when your academic load gets heavy.
  1. Be realistic: I’m an optimist, and so I have high hopes about how much I can get done in 24 hours. But, when I find myself staring at a half-completed to-do list at the end of the day, I feel stressed and disappointed.
  •      Being realistic about how many tasks you can do in a day can allow you to devote more energy and focus to each task.
  1. Reach out for help: When I’m stressed, I’m usually going at full speed. When friends ask how I am doing, I feel relieved to hear that I am not alone and that there is academic support out there.
  •      By reaching out to peers, academic coaches, T.A’s, and/or professors, you form a secure support network that can empower you to tackle any task.

(Check out some great resources we have at UBC for academic success such as: UBC Learning Commons, Peer Academic Coaches, Live well to learn well, and Access and Diversity)

  1. Get quality sleep, especially before a big exam: Though I am preaching this, I still struggle with it. I hope you will join me in cherishing the value of sleep, and getting more of it.
  •      Seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night leads to a sharper mind and better memory, resulting in academic success!

With assignments, presentations, and midterms just around the corner, I hope these proactive tips can help you achieve every one of your goals. Study well and study hard, and remember that your well being plays a big role in your academic success. Good luck!

What are your favorite strategies for effective studying? Read other student tips and share your thoughts below.

Post written by Alice Guo, Wellness Peer

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