As all students in University and College know April is exam-mania. Prioritizing final assignments and papers along with starting to study for exams gets old very quickly. It is no surprise that most of us forget to take care of ourselves as a result, and instead focus on our work until we burn out. To combat the unhealthy lifestyle that is usually promoted at this time of year, I turn to my friends who are all going through the same thing for tips and tricks on how to survive the deadly and daunting exam season.
What are some good study strategies you rely on during exam season?
“Whether I’m studying from a slideshow or textbook, I will rewrite almost everything … unless it seems irrelevant or it’s common knowledge. Once I have everything rewritten, I will spend an hour or so re-reading it and highlighting it. Then I memorize page by page.” – Cristiana Bartello, 3rd year Sport Media Major at Ryerson University
“I usually take breaks from studying for long periods of time, and always make time to take care of myself; whether that be making myself a nourishing meal, taking a nice long shower, taking a break to grab ice cream with my roommates, or even taking 20 minutes to watch an episode of The Office. It’s very important to have a balance between school and studying, as well as making time for your own personal enjoyment – this is how I stay sane!” – Alexis Sullivan, 4th year Visual Art Major at Brock University
Do you have any tricks for studying that help you avoid getting overly stressed?
“My favourite trick for avoiding stress during my exam season is to simply make a checklist and a timeline for each task that needs to be done. Starting at the top of the checklist are the tasks that take precedence over others, and as time goes on and I cross things off, it relieves a bit of stress more and more at a time. Pertaining to the timeline, I allocate certain hours of the day to study certain topics, this way when I finish an hour or two of focused studying, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and takes my mind off stressing about a large course load.” – Matt Salesio, 3rd year Marketing Major at Ryerson University
“I will not study without some kind of aromatherapy around … I find that it relieves my nerves. Also, I keep healthy snacks, water and a pot of coffee by me the entire day in order to stay consistently satisfied. Another really important thing I do is set goals… so if I finish a chapter, I’ll treat myself to Netflix or going out – this always relieves tons of stress during exams.” – Cristiana Bartello, 3rd year Sport Media Major at Ryerson University
How do you cope with the stress at the end of the semester when it gets to be a little too much?
“The way I cope with stress is usually the same for most situations – I sometimes distract myself by doing yoga or hanging with friends! When it gets too stressful, I take a breather and do some self-care! I think just even simple breathing exercises are good for me, talking about how I’m feeling with friends, or just watching a movie and relaxing!” – Klare Nelson, 3rd year Psychology Major at Carleton University
“The hard thing about studying is that it can be an independent process. Just you and your books. Sometimes I think people forget that relieving your stress is almost as important as studying. Exercise (even if it’s just a walk) and social interaction (take a break and hang out with friends!) will not only help with the stress but [will] probably ensure you do better on your exams!” – Paige Mysliviec, 4th year Linguistics Major at McGill University
“It’s important to try to balance out proper studying time but still … relax at certain times. Do things that make you happy and focus [on the] positive.” – Shaun Ormeño, 1st year Construction Engineering Tech Major at Algonquin
Where do you feel most comfortable when studying?
“The silent floor of the library is where I get the most studying done. The silence of it encourages you to get work done. Everyone always looks motivated and into their tasks, which helps me stay motivated for long periods of time because I struggle with that. There’s also access to coffee and food, so I can spend whole days in the library.” – Brandon Hoang, 2nd year Communications Major at Carleton University
“I feel most comfortable studying at home. I study in my bedroom at my desk where I know I can easily focus and have the resources [like coffee and food] to study for a long period of time. I am most comfortable there because it provides silence, familiarity and a good internet connection.” – Sean McFall, 3rd year Communications Major at Carleton University
What do you think is the most effective study method and why?
“The most effective study method for me is to write out my notes… I write [out] everything that I’m completely unfamiliar with in red (signaling that I need to spend more time on it), [stuff written in] yellow [is what] I’m somewhat familiar with, and [stuff written in] green [is] everything I’m good with!” – Erika Fish, 3rd year Global and International Studies Major at Carleton University
“I make myself study sheets based on the content and lecture material. I make worksheets for each lecture topic, then I go through and answer all the questions that I have created so that I can go through and quiz myself … This method helps you learn the material because you have to think about specific examples” – Alexis Sullivan, 4th year Visual Art Major at Brock University
What advice would you give to a first-year student who’s going through exams for the first time?
“Definitely work on time management, I found that preparing for exams a few weeks prior makes them much easier to deal with. If you can break up studying into smaller bits over a long period of time you won’t be as overwhelmed. Also, try not to overwork yourself, exam time can get very stressful and it’s important to take care of yourself in the process. Make sure you’re eating well and getting enough rest.” – Julian Musa, 2nd year Music Major at Humber
“DO NOT STRESS. School does not define who you are as a person. Obviously, study what you don’t know and go in prepared, but [exams] are not nearly as intimidating and scary as you think.” – Erika Fish, 3rd year Global and International Studies Major at Carleton University
As we approach the busiest time of the year, it is important to remember to take care of ourselves. My friends will agree that taking breaks is the key to success. Make sure to ask for help if you need it, stay hydrated, and take the time to stretch! Don’t forget to reward yourself after all of your hard work because it’s the best part; my go-to is a glass of wine. Remember, at the end of the day, you come before your grades.
Special thanks to Cristiana Bartello, Alexis Sullivan, Matthew Salesio, Klare Nelson, Paige Mysliviec, Shaun Ormeno, Brandon Hoang, Sean McFall, Erika Fish and Julian Musa for your help!
Written by Ana Mota