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The Art of Acing Your Exams

Can you believe exams are next month?! I swear I was just picking out courses yesterday! It’s crazy how time flies by… even in a pandemic! Nonetheless, we must brace ourselves for exam season and all the chaotic energy it brings. It’s a time where we all coop up inside a cave that we call our “room” and develop strange sleep patterns, abuse our UberEats app, and catch up on the pile of unwatched lectures. Let’s not forget about the accidental 6-hour TikTok binge… All these things can make us feel hopeless at times, but it’s important to stay on track and take care of ourselves. Here are 5 tips on how to ace your exams:

  1. Plan it Out

One of the biggest challenges during exam season is staying on track. It’s easy to fall behind and feel unproductive. Try to schedule out your day. Grab a calendar, agenda, or even a piece of paper, and pencil in your exams. Next, write out what you need to study and divide it up across the next few weeks leading up to your exam. Write out what chapters you want to finish by the end of that day, how many hours you want to spend on each course, and don’t forget to give yourself a buffer day to review your content! You can even colour code it and add in stars beside the topics you need to focus on the most. It may look hectic at first, but cross stuff off as you go! You’ve got this!

  1. Get on Your Grind

Now that you have your days planned out, it’s time to figure out how exactly you should study. Everyone uses different methods, so it’s important that you figure out the strategies that work best for you! As you’re learning and reviewing your work, recite it to yourself in your own words. Whether that is verbally or writing it out, it is imperative that you can understand what you are learning and interpret it for yourself. If it helps, explain it to a family member or even your cat-- cats are great listeners! Next, you should always try to quiz yourself along the way. Write out Q-cards, make a quizlet, do the practice tests! Anki is an amazing website to use for active recall during studying. When it comes to memorizing pathways, mind maps, lists, or even practicing your multiplication tables, whiteboards are super helpful for writing out the big picture! Likewise, try to shorten huge words or lists into acronyms to help jog your memory. Remember to study smarter, not harder!

  1. Give Yourself a Break

Studying can get very exhausting sometimes, so make sure you are giving yourself breaks. Joe Kim once said the best study schedules are those with cycles of intense work and break times. 45-60 minutes of focused work followed by 10 minute breaks are healthy for the mind. Focused work means no phone, no distractions, just pure concentration. However, when you take breaks, leave your study area and engage in an activity that makes you happy. Grab a snack (brain food), talk to a room mate, pet your dog! (Caution: Avoid TikTok! Your 10 minute break may turn into a 3 hour break!) Once you finish a chapter, give yourself a longer break to take part in something that truly stimulates your mind. Here is your chance to watch a show or get a quick workout in! Perhaps go for a socially distanced walk; nature is beautiful! Having said that, if your body is telling you to sleep, this is not a sign for you to drink another cup of coffee. Take a nap! It is crucial to re-energize if your body needs fuel. Exam season is all about work hard, play hard vibes!

  1. To Ask or Not to Ask

Sometimes we read the same paragraph ten times and still don’t understand what we’re reading, and that’s okay! If you come across perplexing topics, have doubts and questions, write them down. See if you can answer them yourself while referring to old content. Try finding a YouTube video that explains the concept. Phone a friend! Email your TA! Go to office hours! It’s good to have questions because it shows that you are thinking about the concepts and learning all aspects of the topic. Similarly, ask yourself questions about what you are learning. If you are able to quiz yourself and answer the questions you create, you truly know your content inside out! Keep in mind; knowledge is power!

  1. Exam Day Jitters

The big day is finally here! Time to conquer this exam! It is completely normal to feel nervous before a test. Start your day off with a well-balanced breakfast. Review your notes and go over concepts you struggle with extra thoroughly. Drink water and look at some mindfulness tips before you take the exam. Meditation and yoga are great for calming your nerves. Pack the items you will need for the exam and show up ten minutes early. This is your big moment, you have studied so hard for this, and you will ace it! Once you pick up that pencil, it’s smooth sailing from here!

Exam season has its ups and downs. At the end of the day, you should give yourself a pat on the back for getting through it like a champ! And hey, summer is finally here! Overall, don’t let the stress get to you! Good luck on your exams Life Sci!


By Surangah Vamadeva LSS 4th Year Rep 2020 - 2021

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