It may not feel like it now, with the rich Advent hues and joyous Christmas carols, but don’t let this happy time do away with your responsibilities. As soon as those two vacation weeks are up (as fast as most vacations seem to slip by), you will be thrown into hyper learning mode. Units will be rushed to fit the barely three-week learning time left, not to mention that you must summon up all previous knowledge from four months ago (yes, September was four months ago) from the inner recesses of your mind.
But is all hope lost? Will we find ourselves nose-deep in stress and studying, which threatens to cut off any time for sleeping? It is a running joke among college and university students that you must pick two of three main activities in education: social life, grades, or sleep. Especially at exam time, this philosophy seems too true. But there are ways to ensure all these aspects of student life are maintained without any pain.
Exams can be divided into two main groups: Science and Math, and English and Humanities. There are two ways to approach these topics.
When studying sciences and mathematics, you must first understand that in most cases, later units use previous units as foundations. So, if you are struggling in any unit now, it may be because you did not understand the previous units. A study published in the magazine Science found that science and math students retained information (including formulae) best when they wrote it out in words and wrote down the explanations. Also, for exams like physics, where formula sheets are allowed, it is best to write down the formulae on a reserved sheet as you go through the semester, but this is advisable for any subject with many formulae. Do not try to just memorize; try to understand the concepts.
English exams are best studied by reading. Read the material aloud, sing it, or tell it to a parent or sibling (try to avoid other students however, as it can confuse them). Grace Fleming from About.com adds the following points, “You must read the original text, and more than once. Cliff’s Notes are different from your teacher’s notes, and often leave out detail. Try to connect authors, protagonists, and antagonists to works, to help sort out the many readings done throughout the year. Know important themes and theorems, and at least one main setting, conflict and climax for each work and their significance for essay questions.”
Always look at old assignments and tests. Re-do questions you didn’t understand, and spend extra time on concepts you do not fully grasp.
Also, make sure to balance your life around exam time. Stress can be a huge contributor to bad exam marks, so to minimize it, make sure you start studying early. Christmas vacation is the perfect time to start. Most classes have not finished all their units yet, but reviewing now can ensure not only that you do well on exams, but also on the next unit test. Remember concepts build on each other. If you start early, you will be able to take smaller bites at studying and still allot time for sleep and social activities. Be careful, however, not to let your social life overtake your time for studying.
Right before exams, relax slightly to reduce excess stress. You know you have studied, so what’s the worry? Eat a filling, healthy dinner and go to bed so you will have 8-10 hours of sleep. Don't forget to eat a healthy breakfast before you head out; you should be craving a good mark, not oatmeal bran. A website with some tips you can use as you come face-to-face with exams is cbv.ns.ca. It suggests: if there is an essay question, look over it first. You do not have to do it right away; ideas may pop into your head as you write. Do the easiest questions first and set priority to the ones worth the most points, but if you cannot make heads or tails of a question, do not let it waste your time. Skip it and come back to it later.
Hopefully, with these tips, you can successfully get the exam mark you wish for! Here’s an equation to prove the effectiveness of your studying on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being very effective, per hour of studying in case you feel like skipping a session:
E – effectiveness on scale of 1 to 10, 10 being extremely effective
t – number of hours
e – a constant on any scientific calculator
If you can plug in your hours of studying into this equation, you are at least partially ready for your math exam (as this was taken from a calculus class).
Don't let the stress of exams prevent you from singing your carols or enjoying the true meaning of Christmas. Start your exam preparation early and you can still enjoy your normal activities. Remember, Santa Claus does not give gifts of 95% - that's a gift you earn and give yourself! Merry Christmas!