I’m really stressed about exams coming up, and I haven’t studied that much yet. How do I study for exams and balance them with homework? Also, do you have any tips for memorizing math formulas and foreign language vocabulary?
Ready for Spring Break
Dear Ready for Spring Break,
We are officially less than a week away from the dreaded exam week. Prepare for days of minimal sleep, abnormally large amounts of coffee and caffeine, late night cram sessions, and perhaps even a few tears.
I’m kidding, sort of. But in all seriousness, I’m not going to sugarcoat exam week: it’s stressful, it’s tiring, it’s overwhelming. But, there are a few tips I can give you to make the experience as painless as possible.
- Start studying if you haven’t
This is sort of a given. But between you and me, we both know that there may be a small chance you haven’t started studying yet…hey, no judgement. However, it’s time to start cracking open those textbooks. I know there are still small assignments in some classes, but just make sure to prioritize. Get your homework out of the way to make more time for your study schedule.
1. Set up a schedule—avoid a lot of late night cram sessions
No matter what kind of learner you are, the best strategy you can use when it comes to tackling the hefty exam load is keeping a schedule. Looking to the weekend, be sure you have set aside specific times to study. Evenly divide your time among all your subjects. While cram sessions can be effective sometimes, try to avoid having multiple ones consecutively next week. Trust me, they work for awhile, but not so well in the long term.
2. Figure out what your strategy is going to be
When it comes understanding concepts, review, review, review! For history, I always look back at my notes and readings extensively. For math, rework old tests, quizzes, problem sets, and homework questions to confirm your understanding of the material. When it comes to memorizing straight facts such as formulas or vocabulary, I have developed a strategy that works well for me. First, I look through each chapter and figure out which formulas or words I need to know. Then, on a whiteboard or blank piece of paper, I copy them all down, starting with only a handful and then building up as I get them right. I end up writing the entire list over and over again until I have successfully done so multiple times. Thank you, muscle memory.
3. Make a study group
Everyone works differently, but for me, when it comes to exam studying, study groups are very helpful. If you work well with other people, I highly suggest finding a small group of people in the same class as you and working together to review challenging concepts. If you choose to do this, be sure to keep the group small. The larger the group, the more likely you will get distracted.
4. Don’t panic
I think the easiest trap you can fall into is getting too much inside your head. Exams are a big deal, for sure, but you can’t psych yourself out before you’ve even taken them. Panicking will do nothing but impede your focus. Try to remain collected. If you are finding yourself in a slump about exams, just remember that Spring Break is right around the corner. You just have to make it through one more week.
You’re so close. Just give it your best for a few more days and before you know it, you’ll be fast asleep in your bed for 10 hours, watching Netflix on the couch, or sprawled out on the beach in Cancun. We all have to take exams, so we’ll be right there with you.