As we dive deeper into the semester, the dreaded word “exam” starts to pop up and oftentimes we start to get nervous and panic. It is perfectly okay to get a little nervous—the word “exam” can have that effect on people. But rather than letting yourself feel this way, take advantage of the time that you have and prepare yourself so that you are ready to tackle the exam! Here are some helpful tips to ease your stress and prepare you for your next exam.
Allow yourself to start preparing in advance
This is probably one of the most important tips. If you have an exam on Wednesday, it is so easy to put it off until Tuesday to start studying. However, if you wait until the last minute, you will make yourself so much more anxious for the exam. The best way to ease your anxiety before your exam is to start studying in advance. I usually allow myself to start studying a week before the exam. That way, this gives you time to cover all of the material, and then if you are stuck on something, you can go into your professor’s office hours for help—and you won’t be cramming to figure it out at the last second.
Cover one topic at a time
In most cases, your exams will cover a range of topics and chapters. I just had a marketing exam last week that covered chapters one through four. The best way to approach studying is to go over the material chapter by chapter, rather than trying to look at all of the material at once. Start with chapter one. Go over your notes for chapter one, chapter one's PowerPoint slides, re-read the chapter in the textbook and any additional information that you need to know. Repeat this process for each chapter and you will be good to go!
We all have the image in our head where we’re going to go to post up in our favorite study spot for a five hour study session. Although it sounds great in our heads, we know that’s not the truth of the matter. We have to take what I like to call “brain breaks!” Our brains need time to process all of the information that has just been soaked up, which is why it is important to take small breaks and divy up your studying—otherwise, you will tire yourself out. Study for a few hours, go take a break to grab a bite to eat and come back; or go to the gym for a quick workout, then return to your studies. Your brain needs “brain breaks!”
Find the best study strategies and atmosphere for you
Are you a visual learner? A read/write learner? Do you need it to be absolutely silent when you study? Or do you need to be around noise? These are all important notes to keep in mind as you begin to prepare for your next exam. For every single test I’ve had since high school, I have always made flashcards because my brain absorbs information better when I write things down. I also need it to be absolutely silent when I study; otherwise, I get too distracted. So, take some time before your exam to figure out what type of learner you are and incorporate this into your study plan for your next exam.
You know the phrase “easier said than done”. Well, that’s exactly what procrastination is. No matter how much you feel like waiting until the last minute to start studying for your exam, try your best to get started sooner. Find an incentive or a motivator. For example, maybe you really want to go on a hike. Set a goal for yourself that you’re going to spend two hours studying, then go on a hike, and that hike will feel much more rewarding. The easiest way to cure your case of procrastination is to set goals for yourself.