Acing Your Exams

It’s that time of year again. With final exams around the corner, many students are looking for effective preparation strategies. Here are five tips to adopt and adapt as you move through your exam schedule.
Student Laptop
It’s that time of year again.

Tip #1: Assess how you are doing in each course

Calculate your current grade in each of your courses. This step will help you prioritize your study time in terms of which classes will need more of your attention. Another important piece to consider is to determine how much each of your exams are worth in terms of your total grade.  Adopting this step will allow you to calculate the exam grades required to achieve your academic goals.

Tip #2: Make a plan

It is important to set yourself up for success. You can start by writing down all of your final exam dates in a calendar. Once you know when all of your exams are, plan out how you will tackle preparing for each exam. Consider setting small study goals and utilizing the backwards-planning approach.

While it is often recommended that students spend 12-15 hours preparing for each exam, this number is only a guideline.  Each student is unique in terms of how they learn different subjects and every student has different goals they are trying to achieve. This will mean that the guideline of hours to study will vary for every subject.

Tip #3: Maintain your motivation and momentum

Studying for final exams can be a tough process (to say the least). Sometimes getting started on our studying is the hardest part! It is good to write down some “go-to” strategies for maintaining your motivation before you start studying. Remember, action often leads to motivation. Try to come up with at least a couple of things that will help you “push through” the studying process when things get tough. Some students use reward systems or remind themselves what their goals are. What is important in this step is to find motivational strategies that work for you.

Tip #4: Practice self-care and balance

It is important to take care of yourself during final exam season - even though it might not feel like there is time for that. This step creates balance in your life and helps maintain your momentum to ‘cross the finish line’ when writing and studying for exams.  Examples of how to build balance into your exam prep schedule include:  a 5-minute walk outside to break up a study session; connecting with a friend after a full day of studying or a break between study sessions to play a game of soccer, cycle somewhere or take your dog for a walk. Equally important is taking time to eat a regular meals and aim to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Implementing any one of these suggestions creates a change of pace, refreshes the mind, re-energizes you and resets your motivation to re-engage in the ’marathon’ of studying. 

Tip #5: Seek out help if you need help creating or maintaining a study plan    

You are not in this alone. At any point during your exam preparation, please feel free to reach out to Academic Development Specialists at the Student Success Centre.

There are many other resources available on campus as well, such as professors, counsellors, and librarians. Academic Development Specialists can also provide you with a more comprehensive list of services that might be helpful.

Good luck!!