The academic year is off and running, with papers and assignments looming large on each university course syllabus. As a student, you may find it challenging at first to budget your time accordingly to meet these homework deadlines; it is an adjustment to realize that no one but you is monitoring your work habits and output and that you alone are responsible for meeting deadlines.
As you turn your attention to these projects, exams probably aren’t top of mind. After all, they happen later in the semester, so why worry about them now?
However, if you don’t want to find yourself putting in an all-night study session prior to each of your exams, it’s worth considering your approach to preparing for them now, rather than later. Here are some tips to give you a helping hand as the exam date approaches.
Tips For Avoiding The All Nighter Study Cram
- Start preparing now. Preparation for exams starts the moment you walk into class on the first day. Listening to the lectures, taking notes and noticing what the professor emphasizes is part and parcel of absorbing the information with which you’ll need to be familiar come exam time.
- Keep pace. Don’t give in to the temptation of procrastinating on your written assignments or your reading, because it won’t be easy to catch up as exam time draws near – nor will you absorb as much information as you would if you worked on it a bit at a time.
- Make your mark(s). Review your notes after each class, adding keywords and questions wherever they make sense. Make notes in the margins of your textbooks or course readings that highlight the major concepts or keywords. Draw graphs or charts for yourself if they clarify the information or enhance your understanding of the material.
- Avoid multi-tasking. Your studies need your full attention if you are to retain information and succeed at your exams. Turn off your phone, shut down your computer and don’t watch television as you do your studying. It may mean leaving your room and heading to the library or another place that doesn’t offer the possibility of visual or auditory distractions.
- Use the buddy system. You can benefit from finding a study group. Working alongside other students committed to doing well in school is a motivator and also makes studying a less solitary pursuit. In a study group, you can compare notes with your peers, explain difficult concepts to each other, ask questions and talk about the exam. Set a regular time to meet so you stay on track.
- Mock tests aren’t mockery. Many textbooks have sample tests, and some instructors make tests from past years available to students so they can get an idea of what one of their exams might include. Take advantage of these samples and test your knowledge in advance. You’ll be able to identify any gaps, which will help guide your studying. You can also utilize online video learning to enhance your in-class study.
Once you’ve put your study plan into action, you should be ready to perform well on exam day. Nonetheless, it’s worth having a strategy for test taking.
- Establish a good routine. It’s game day, so start it off on a positive note. Get proper rest and wake to a healthy breakfast. Do a bit of exercise to relieve tension. Pretend you’re an athlete preparing for a big game or an actor preparing for opening night and use visual imagery to imagine success.
- Look at the big picture. When you receive the exam, don’t dive right in. Look it over and create a plan of attack. Consider how you’ll apportion the time allotted.
- Do a data dump. Once you have perused the exam, write down any formulas you’ll need or any essential terms or keywords that will be helpful in answering the questions. You can also add concepts and other details that may come in handy.
- Skip, don’t stop. If you don’t know the answer to a questions, don’t agonize over it; move on to the next question. Save the toughest questions, especially those with low point values, for last. In multiple choice tests, bear in mind that your first answer is often the best option.
- Review your work. Before handing in your exam, look over your answers if there is time. Be sure you have answered all the questions so there are no possible points left on the table.
- Don’t panic. Remember, if you have prepared well and done your homework all along, you know the important information and should have no problem answering the questions that come your way. If you feel jittery, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you have necessary knowledge at your fingertips.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you have an exam or two under your belt, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident at your ability to handle the stress of exam time. Develop good habits and success is yours!