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Ten tips to ace exam season

Are you starting to feel nervous about exams? We’ve compiled these tips to help you ace those exams and become the most organised version of yourself

    Grace McCabe's avatar

    Grace McCabe

    Content Writer, THE Student
    May 16 2022
    Stack of books and a cup of tea


    Exam season is a tough time for many students. So, if you’re looking for tips to help you stay on top of your exams this year, look no further – we’ve got you covered. 

    1. Create the ultimate schedule 

    One reason assignments and deadlines can become overwhelming as exam season approaches is because often the details are listed in various places. A great tip for students is to create the ultimate schedule for yourself and avoid procrastination.  

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    Include every assignment, every essay and exam you have coming up. Once you have all the information you can print it out and display it in your room, make it your laptop background or save it on your phone. You’ll always know when the next piece of work is due, and it will help you stay organised. 

    2. Keep a diary 

    A calendar or diary is another way to keep track of your deadlines. Here you can be more detailed and include classes, tutor meetings, group study sessions and other appointments that will support your learning. 

    You can also add other important plans like events, shopping days and your study-free days. It may feel like your diary is packed, but as exam season gets busier, you’ll be happy you planned for everything. 

    3. Create to-do lists 

    To-do lists are an effective way to break down the important things into smaller, more manageable tasks. Write a list every morning of what you need to complete, including all tasks, from finding sources to writing the first 1,000 words of your essay.

    Not only will you remember everything for that day, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you tick off each item. This will keep you motivated to continue.  

    Ticking off each task can help you see the end and keep the panic at bay. 

    4. Write your own due dates 

    No, we do not mean make them up yourself. But we do mean give yourself some extra time. The earlier you set your due date, the more time you have if something goes wrong. Computers can break, people get ill and emergencies can happen. By providing more time you will have extra time at the end if something goes wrong. 

     You will have time to ask someone to read over your work or discuss your final thoughts. Then if you wish to make any changes, you still have plenty of time to do so.

    5. Keep your equipment organised 

    A tidy space leads to a tidy mind – no one wants to be frantically searching for their notebook the night before the exam.

    Create folders on your computer to organise your notes. Colour code your subjects so it is easy to find the right documents. Use dividers, folders and shelf trays to keep books together and make it easy to find them later.

    Most importantly, invest in a backup system. You can choose a USB stick, hard drive, cloud drive, or email work to yourself. There is nothing worse than finishing your final essay and losing all your work. Regularly back up your notes, essays and assignments and you can easily retrieve them. 

    6. Save sources and research 

    One aspect of university that is often new to students is citing sources. Whether you are using APA, MLA or Chicago citing styles, you will need to keep track of your research to list at the end.  

    When you begin a piece of work, try creating a bookmark folder on your laptop specifically for the related sources. Make sure to save everything you read and find helpful, so it’s all in one place when you draft your essays. More importantly, it will then be easy to find all the relevant sources when it comes to citations. 

    7. Find ways to stay focused 

    Sometimes it can feel like you are studying for hours but, you are only actually learning for a few minutes due to distractions. 

    There are many different things you can try if you struggle to concentrate while studying. You could try working with a study buddy or group or listening to some classical or study music. Turning off your phone and avoiding social media can really help you focus. Set a goal to reach or give yourself a little reward when you complete the session. You can even try playing white noise if silence is distracting.

    8. Think ahead 

    As assignments and deadlines approach, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by work. But it is important to remember that you still need to eat and relax. 

    A terrific way to alleviate some pressure during this time is by batch-cooking your meals. Create all the student-friendly meals you want for the week and then freeze them in individual portion sizes. When you come home from classes and need to study, all you need to do is defrost and reheat what you want to eat. 

    9. Take breaks 

    Yes, we mean water and bathroom breaks but also fun activities to rest your mind and keep your mood happy. Keep up your hobbies, hang out with friends and make plans in advance. If you know you are due to study all week, plan a movie night on Saturday or a walk with friends on Sunday.  

    Remember to stay active when you can too, with whatever type of exercise you enjoy.  

    There is a limited amount of information we can absorb in one go. By taking a break, you are allowing your short-term memory to develop into long-term memory and save the latest information. 

    10. Get a good night’s sleep

    It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter the night before an exam to cram in the last bits of information you think you’re missing. 

    But the power of a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated and it has been found that sleep can improve your mood, you will have better recall and just generally feel fresher and more alert. 

    So, the evening before your exam, use your study session wisely and then switch off. Meditate, have a treat with dinner or get in some final exercise and then head to bed. Getting eight hours’ sleep for at least five nights leading up to your exam will ensure you are refreshed and ready! 

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