Rishab Pillai: Exams! The final leg of the semester

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All of us have powered through the last fourteen weeks, multiple assessments due within a few hours of each other, presentations and group work, it has all led to the final leg of the semester, FINAL EXAMS! Exams are inevitable and daunting, however, it is important to remember that we have gotten this far and like all other challenges, we will get through this one too. This is usually a time when you may have an overdose of advice, but I thought I’d share some things I follow leading up to exams. I have tried to keep it general as we all work differently and no one but ourselves can decide what works best for us. We all get nervous, we all procrastinate, we have our lazy moments and our fair share of brain farts, so it’s important to remember that none of us are alone.

The starting point for any assessment is knowing what you need to study. Learning objectives and other aspects you are expected to know are made clear by the lecturers. Have a read of the subject outline and any other resources, find out what sections are accessible and focus on these to be as productive especially when time is of the essence. This may seem like a lot when we have to study for multiple subjects, but I have always found it easier to divide these materials into smaller tasks. This has often worked well for me and many others I know. Divide your material into small manageable amounts and this will help in grasping concepts, it makes it a lot easier to concentrate as well. This will also enable you to mix up and achieve equal amounts across multiple subjects, as opposed to just studying the same subject and getting saturated.

Once you have made your aims clear, its then time to get organized. As we have found out during the semester, time management is one of the most essential skills to have. Even if exams are just a week away, plan your days and set realistic and achievable study goals. Knowing what you need to achieve will help you stay relaxed as opposed to not knowing what you need to achieve. Make checklist and timetables, as silly as this may sound, ticking off that one chapter or reading on your to-do list, will make you feel a lot better and give you a sense of confidence.

There are a lot of desktop and phone apps that can help you chalk out a schedule, My Study Life is one of the apps I have been using for a while and planning hasn’t been easier. This may be a bit contrasting to what I said previously, but things take longer sometimes and it’s important to realise that not keeping up with the schedule to every minute or second is not the end of the world and shouldn’t be a reason to add to your stress. Be flexible with time! Squeeze multiple short breaks within these study goals and it will help to grasp those complex ideas without the worry of forgetting what you have learnt.  I find listening to music is a good de stresser, watching those TV shows on your watch list may be tempting but as difficult as it is, it is better to avoid them, as it tempting to know what’s on the next episode once you have a finished watching one.

A good way to lock in what you have learnt during the day, is to discuss the material you learnt during the day with your classmates. This isn’t advisable a night before exams, however, this is a good way to  wrap your head around concepts during SWOTVAC. It will enable you to pick up on things you may have missed out and also if you can communicate an idea or a concept to someone else, it is a good sign that you are well versed with it. Choose your study buddies wisely, it is important to have these discussions with individuals who have the same wavelength and motivation. The last thing you need is any form of negativity bogging you down. An interesting way of having these discussions and one I follow is, in a group we pick concepts or chapters for each person and explain it to the others. I have found this to help grasp concepts and it also made me confident.

Try and get your hands on some past exam questions or sample papers. Knowing the format of your exam and also making sure you can reproduce what you have learnt in a limited time is of utmost importance. Answering questions from these past/ sample exams are also a good way to register what you have learnt and will also give you the confidence to know that you can answer questions without having to refer your notes.

One thing I will admit I am guilty of is not eating right, I love my instant noodles and multiple cups of coffees in a day. But it’s important that we try to eat healthy which will ensure everything else falls into place. I am not the ideal student and time manager myself, but I thought I’d share some things I struggle with and also what works to overcome this struggle during these stressful times. Remember to study smart and you are not alone. Do not hesitate to talk to your friends, family, lecturers or learning/student advisers about anything that’s bothering you.

Good Luck everyone! I hope you all enjoy the much awaited summer break.

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