You have devoted hours, days and weeks to participating in classes and soaking up every word of wisdom your teachers and professors have shared in class. The only thing left before your well-earned summer break are your final exams, and despite all the hard work you put into your assignments and group projects during the year, final exams often decide whether you’ll spend your summer sunbathing or cramming for exams you flunked and need to retake.
But don’t despair. We’ve put together a short list of tips and tricks that will help you survive your final exams and spend the summer enjoying poolside drinks instead of dusty books.
Planning is everything! In order to keep track of all your exams and all the different topics you have to study for, make sure to schedule your studies carefully. Take some time to make your own personalized schedule with a clear outline of what you’re going to study when. Allocate more time to classes you find particularly challenging and make sure to plan in some breaks as well in order to keep yourself motivated.
2. Take your time
Taking breaks when you study is as important as spending time in front of your notes and books – you need time to process all that new information. Make the best of your free time by avoiding spending too much time in front of the TV or on social media. Spend it on sleeping, eating healthy and working out instead.
Remember to… Sleep
You need to keep yourself well-rested and focused in order to process more material. Don’t go to bed too late, especially not the day before the exam. Make sure not to sleep too much either as too much siesta can be counter-productive and cause you to feel more tired instead.
Remember to… Eat healthy
We tend to head straight for the pantry to find a snack when we get bored, or to use sweets as an award when we have accomplished something, but in order to keep yourself from being distracted by hunger or suffering from a post-candy sugar slump, make sure you have a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner with two healthy snacks in between instead. Here’s a list of brain-healthy snacks that will keep you fueled while you study.
Remember to… Work out
Research shows that there is a link between exercising and academic success. When you’re doing cardio (running, swimming, cycling etc.) your brain is filling up with oxygen, making it better equipped at processing and retaining new information. Even a less vigorous, but still active walk in nature helps you make better sense of the information you just learned.
3. Manage your time
When it’s time to sit your exam you have to make sure to use your time wisely. Being focused and organized is key. Spend the first few minutes reading through all the questions and planning the order you’ll answer them in. Resist the temptation to start writing right away. Start with the question you feel most comfortable with to boost confidence levels from the very beginning; after a good start it’s much easier to move onto more challenging questions. With multiple choice questions, make sure to read through all the answers carefully before settling on an answer. Trick questions or answers that are really similar can easily result in a mistake. Don’t miss an easy mark because of it. With essay questions it’s important to take some time to read through the question and make a short plan of what you want to cover before before you start writing.
4. Stay hydrated
Most of us know that staying hydrated is important for our physical performance, but did you know that it is just as important – and maybe even more so – for your brain? Dehydration can cause headaches and exhaustion whereas drinking water can help boost your brain power and improve your memory. Staying hydrated during your finals can help you ace them, so make sure to bring your water bottle to the examination room!
5. And then… Celebrate!
It’s time to celebrate that you survived your finals! You followed our tips, did your best and now it’s too late to change the outcome, so stop stressing about it. Call your friends, catch up on some family time or go out dancing. Make sure to appreciate the feeling of freedom after all the hard work.
And if your exam results turn out worse than you expected, worry not; life is great at giving us second chances, and you’ll have all the tools you need to do better next time around.