Exams and How to Survive

High school exams are approaching quickly and the stress levels of students around Canada are rising higher than their grades. Exams can either boost your mark or bring it down a ton so it’s important to do as well as you can and that involves preparing for the final test. However, studying can be a struggle for some. I get it. It’s not fun. A Series of Unfortunate Events just came out on Netflix, there’s many other things we’d rather be doing.

For me, studying is something I don’t totally hate. I’m procrastinating my homework right now, but on a good day I don’t mind getting some review out of the way in preparation for a test or exam. I thought I’d share some of my studying secrets (they’re not really secrets and you’ve probably seen them before) so I can say I’ve done something productive today.

Don’t leave it to the last second.

Leaving studying to the last minute is probably the worst thing you can do. I’m not saying start studying the moment the semester starts, but start reviewing your notes and start the review at least 2 weeks before your first exam. Space out your studying so you still have time for things like family gatherings, things with friends, and that extra homework teachers like to give out because they forgot to assign it two months ago. Use the weekends to your advantage and take the extra time to study if you can. Going over your notes when you’re not stressed or frantic in a calm slow pace is better than cramming an entire semester’s worth of work into two days.

Hide your phone/laptop/whatever.

Technology is a huge distraction and I know it. The class time I’ve spent zoning out of lessons and scrolling through Twitter and Buzzfeed is somewhat embarrassing or impressive, depending how you look at it. Just turning off your phone or putting it on silent isn’t enough. You know that you can turn your phone back on in literally the push of a button and that notifications are coming in, even though you can’t hear it. Placing your phone and laptop out of your eyesight in another room, under your bed or in your closet is the best. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. Give it to your parents and tell them to only give it back to you once you’re done studying. Make sure it’s turned off if you choose this option, we all have things to hide and parents like to snoop.

Set a timer.

Setting a timer for how long you’re going to study is something I started doing this time last year for my first ever round of exams and it helped me a lot. You set aside a certain amount of time for revision and you know you’ll be studying for that amount of time so you put your all into it for however long you set your alarm for. I usually set my timer for an hour and study with no distractions so when the time is up I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Make pretty notes.

Rewriting notes is a great way to study and revise information from throughout the unit or semester. While you’re rewriting the notes you messily took down during class make them look nice. Buy a multicoloured pen, some gel pens, some coloured cue cards and a nice notebook. Organize the cue cards by their colour and write in purple pen if your heart desires. You’ll be more enticed to look at and review your notes if they’re pretty and nice to read, rather than pencil on regular lined paper.

Take some breaks.

Studying for hours straight is not just boring but dumb. Breaks are needed for both your mind and body. Being hunched over a desk for hours is not good for your back and just focusing and trying to cram information in is going to be overwhelming and just not fun. At all. Set aside a good chunk of time, like an hour and study for 2/3rds of it, and then take a break for 20 minutes. Go for a walk, check Twitter, eat a sandwich, whatever floats your goat. Don’t let all of your study time become one huge break.

Eat something before you start.

Before starting your studying eat something that will keep you full for however long you plan to study. Being hungry while reviewing will be a major distraction from your notes and the only thing you’ll think about is how hungry you are, what you’re going to eat and that amazing burger you had that one time. Studying on a full stomach is so much easier, trust me.

Have a drink around.

Having a glass of water, a cup of tea or even a juice box while studying is a little something to make studying a little bit more enjoyable. If you have something you like to drink you’ll know you have at lease one enjoyable thing around you. Also, constantly leaving your notes to get a glass of water is a major time waster and can lead to just getting a glass of water in the kitchen to accidentally watching a scene from the movie your dad’s watching in the living room and wow I just have to know what happens next. An hour and a half later you’re done the movie with the ending you predicted forty minutes ago.

Sleep. Seriously. 

Showing up to your exam tired and half asleep isn’t going to do you any good. Chances are you won’t remember any information if you didn’t get much sleep the night before and it might mess you up during the exam. You misread the essay question, write your essay and then reread the question to find out you misread the question and you have to rewrite that whole essay. Also, sleeping is literally the best thing ever.

Here’s to all of us passing our exams and doing this again at the end of June.

Until next time,

-Jenna

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