10 tips to get exam ready

young black man working on laptop

Brought you by the Learning Support Centre.

Final exams aren’t just any tests. They draw upon your knowledge from the entire semester, and often you have to take many of them in a short period of time.

Here are 10 tips to help you succeed in your final exams:

1. Embrace a Growth Mindset

Embrace those challenges and know that success is a result of hard work and support from others!

  • Believe in your ability to reach your goals
  • Be prepared to work hard
  • Ask for help when you need it.

Finals can be a tough and stressful time, but by adopting and acting on the principles of growth mindset, we can better prepare for the hurdles that come with exams.

2. A Procrastination Tip!

Trouble getting started on studying? Try employing the Pomodoro technique; a reward-based system designed to help you get started. By determining a reward for following through, you are more likely to get started, which always seems to be the hardest part. This simple system works like so:

  • Put all of your distractions (social media, phone, etc.) away and set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • For those 25 minutes, study intently. Don’t worry about hitting a certain checkpoint; just focus on the process of studying.
  • When the timer goes off, take a five-minute break and reward yourself (grab a snack, cruise Instagram for a few minutes, etc.)
  • Reset the timer and repeat the cycle.
  • After four cycles, give yourself a longer break and a bigger reward, such as an episode of your favourite show or a power nap.

3. Spaced Repetition

Did you know that learning a new concept, allowing yourself a small amount of time to forget, and then relearning it actually helps the information stay in your head longer?

  • Learn, forget, and relearn to improve your memory!
  • Space out studying into small chunks over a long period
  • Avoid cramming the night before

You may be surprised by how much easier it is to recall the information after a few study sessions.

4. Test Yourself

Retrieval practice, or quizzing yourself, is regarded as one of the most effective study habits.

  • Test yourself before your professors test you!
  • See where you need to commit more study time
  • Slow down the forgetting curve
  • Use flashcards, Quizlet, or a Zoom study session

5. Interleave Your Learning

Interleaved learning is the process of alternating your study time between different subjects.

  • Study multiple subjects during a study period, rather than just one
  • Deepen your learning by making connections between concepts and materials
  • Are you a math student? Try interleaving between different mathematic formulas!

6. Test Anxiety Tips

Test Anxiety is common for students and can originate from a variety of thoughts and feelings. What is important to know is that it CAN be overcome!

  • Remind yourself that you have worked hard this semester.
  • Study regularly, space it out and interleave between subjects.
  • Make sure to rest the night before a test, eat a good breakfast the morning of and engage in positive self-talk
  • When you’re done, celebrate your hard work!

7. Sleep Well

Did you know that sleep isn’t just good for your health? It’s also good for your memory!

  • When we sleep our brain it commits our learning into our long-term memory.
  • During exam week, ensure you are getting enough sleep after studying.
  • Your brain will keep working while you rest up!

8. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to decrease those pre-exam jitters, and some scientists even believe that it helps us to increase our memory retention.

  • Exercise releases hormones and neurotransmitters that are believed to strengthen our brains and improve our memories.
  • Consider finding an online yoga class.
  • Break up your study routine by scheduling in a walk or bike ride.
  • If you are looking for a treat, maybe try looking for a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” video to exercise along with.

9. Talk Yourself Up!

Exam time can be a time of heightened stress for many, but it is vital that you do your best to remain positive. The mindsets with which we approach our challenges often make all of the difference in our outcomes.

  • When you are feeling stressed, try talking yourself up.
  • Remind yourself of how hard you’ve been working
  • Reflect on the success you have already had.
  • This positivity can increase the effectiveness of your studying and help to reduce test anxiety during a final.

10. Hard Start, Jump Easy

Want to prime your brain during your exams? Consider the Hard Start, Jump Easy technique.

  • Start your test by working on a more difficult question for a few minutes and then flip back to the easier problems.
  • This process will shift your brain into what is called the Diffuse Mode, which allows your brain to look at the big picture and make connections between the questions. It also helps you avoid tunnel vision!

This works for studying too; if having difficulty with a concept or problem, walk away and work on something else. When you return, you may find the material easier to grasp.

Have more questions about study tips and tricks or need help, contact the Learning Support Centre today.