With exams just a few weeks away, time is ticking for students as they prepare for their finals. Reed Hilton-Eddy, a learning strategist at Ryerson University’s Learning Success Centre, offers these helpful strategies to help students manage exam anxiety and study effectively so they can pass their finals with flying colours:
Tip 1: Be an active learner. Choose to be “doing” something with your material such as paraphrasing, creating and answering questions, completing practice tests from the textbook, drawing diagrams or making charts.
Tip 2: Manage your time wisely
a) Determine between now and your exam date how many hours you can dedicate to exam preparation – keep in mind your own pacing, the need for breaks, other school work and personal commitments.
b) Weigh your study time according to the amount of material you need to cover. For example, if you have 10 hours to study and five chapters, you should try to give two hours per chapter. However, this would change if you need to spend more time reviewing the more important chapters.
c) Make sure you plan what you are supposed to be doing during those study sessions. Establish goals or benchmarks you need to reach and resist the urge to stop early.
Tip 3: Speak positively to yourself. Watch what you are saying to yourself during your exam preparation before and during an exam. Instead of saying to yourself: “Don’t panic, don’t fail, don’t screw-up”, try more supportive thoughts such as: “I am calm, I am prepared” or “I am relaxed.”
Tip 4: Practice. Create mock exams for yourself and time them so you can get used to performing under pressure.
Tip 5: Ask questions. Seek help early if you don’t understand concepts presented in a lecture or in the readings. It is important to ask the professor, a teaching assistant or a peer for assistance because that concept that is confusing you is often linked to other material in the course.
Tip 6: Feeling nervous is normal during exams. Keep in mind that experiencing some jitters is normal and may help you do well in an exam. But if you find that being very nervous is impacting your performance, seek support – most institutions have onsite counselling.
Tip 7: Avoid distractions. When you are studying, make it your priority. This means turning off MSN, cellphones, Facebook, etc. On the day of the exam, avoid other nervous students. Instead, you should use the few moments beforehand to relax and gather your thoughts, not teach yourself or peers course material.