It’s important to take your exams seriously, but not so seriously that they distress or discourage you. Everyone develops their own approach to writing and preparing for exams, which comes with practice. Here are a few study dos and don’ts, courtesy of Student Learning Services, to help you find exam strategies that work for you.
Do: Start thinking about your exam and what will be on it at least a week or two in advance.
Don’t: Worry about mastering all the material, but think critically about what material needs to be learned and what you need to do to learn it. This way you’ll get a sense of how much work needs to be done without the panic of cramming it into the last minute.
Do: Know what kind of studying works for you. Some people study well in groups; others prefer to work alone. Find something that fits your style and stick with it.
Don’t: Study for excessively long periods of time. An hour or two a day should be fine if you start in advance. Reward yourself after study sessions and take breaks so that you don’t burn yourself out. We all need time to relax.
Do: Eat well, sleep regularly, and have fun when you are not studying (note that you can have fun when studying too). Don’t let an exam disrupt the rhythm of your life negatively and change how you care for your health.
Don’t: Be shy about visiting a help centre on campus. Help centres are there for your academic and personal assistance, not to make you feel stupid or incompetent. If anything, utilizing help centres is a sign of motivation and intelligence.
Do: Hand in the exam when are you are confident that you have given it your best. Use all the time that’s given to you. It’s not a race!
Don’t: Get frustrated if you get stuck on some material. Get help; ask your professor to clarify a concept, or try discussing it with other classmates.
Do: Use your last study session as a confidence booster. Remind yourself of what you already know. Resist cramming material at the last minute.
Don’t: Let your confidence be rattled if you don’t immediately know the answer to one of the questions. If you are stumped by a question, move on and come back to it when you are done. The answer may come to you.
And don’t forget that Student Learning Services offers additional learning support to all university students through a number of workshops and online resources, including study skills, library skills and writing-help videos. There is also drop-in support available as well for writing and math and stats.