Comic by Celeste Covington and Anannya Das.
Obviously as a high schooler, exams are just a part of life that everyone must go through for a certain period of time, even in college. Having experienced exams for my fourth consecutive year, I have accumulated some knowledge of what works best for me in terms of schedule, balance with breaks, and making the process of preparation much simpler, and I figured it may be helpful for underclassmen to hear some tips from someone who has been through it all before them.
Make a schedule for yourself. I know it may sound stupid considering that life throws curveballs that may mess it up, but try to stick to it as closely and most effectively as possible. Sit down with a parent, figure out what you have going on during the week or weekend, and set aside one to two hour periods of time to study certain subjects. I say keeping those hours low may be in your best interest considering the fact that I get fidgety and can’t sit still for too long. Make sure that in those blocks of time, you are using them to the fullest and really focused. Have water with you or perhaps a coffee if you are feeling drained, and maybe a little snack, because you should not sacrifice any time to get up and waste time towards that subject. Make sure that your hardest classes are the most prevalent in the schedule to ensure success and eventual confidence going into the test.
Do not change up your everyday life around the tests you will be taking. For example, if you only have one cup of coffee in the morning, do not feel the need to load yourself up with caffeine and cause more anxiety and jitters than there will be. If you don’t eat a heavy breakfast, do not force yourself to eat a full meal equivalent to the Cracker Barrel Momma’s Pancake Breakfast. Make sure you are going to sleep at your normal time, as well as waking up at a reasonable hour because groggy early mornings and late nights will not be on your team later in the week.
Give yourself breaks. Believe me, during the process you will deserve a moment to breathe. I recommend watching an hour of TV or Youtube because it keeps you alert but also is a mindless activity. Maybe
coordinate your breaks with some friends, and you can meet up for two or so hours and distract each other from the insanity that is exams week. While on break, just make sure you avoid the topic of school to avoid any further stress that comes from it.
Cut off distractions. I know giving up social media for a weekend sounds horrible considering our generation likes to be in the know, but you will find that doing so will lead to increased productivity and focus. While studying, make sure your phone is on Do Not Disturb and put away somewhere (maybe give it to a parent or sibling) where you won’t be tempted to look at it. Computers are a terrible distraction as well, so maybe during the weeks leading up to finals, block all of those distractions for the meantime and unblock them when the chaos is done.
Be appreciative of your friends, family, and teachers. They are all rooting for you to do well and be successful on those tests, so treat them with kindness and respect. You will find that being a positive person during this week will make it a lot more easy to get through.
These are just a few of my tips, and I encourage you to take on the challenge of what works for you during these last few weeks of school. Do what you know will lead to a great end to the semester and be confident in your knowledge; it will carry you far.