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Study smart and prioritize self-care

Get ready for the upcoming final exam period

November 29, 2022 — 

It’s almost time for the end of term and final exams. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve written many exams, everyone can use new strategies for studying and self-care. Don’t forget to take advantage of resources and support programs that can support your health, wellness and academic success! Make sure to check your exam schedule and manage your exam conflicts and deferrals ahead of time.

Here are some recommendations as you focus on studying and writing your exams.

STUDY SMART

When you don’t know where to start, don’t panic. Keep calm, you still have time to get organized. Try using these pointers to help you get back on track and be as productive with your study time as possible.

  • Organize essential test materials such as readings, lecture notes, practice questions, assignment questions and homework.
  • Create a study schedule and pay close attention to courses and areas that you need to improve on.
  • Be prepared. Use your syllabus and course objectives to determine what you need to study. Find out what type of exam you are writing (e.g., multiple choice vs. long answer, closed vs. open book). Knowing the format will help you determine how to study.
  • Avoid cramming. Cramming overtaxes your memory, and you will end up remembering less or even get confused about the material.
  • Start with current material, then move to the material you don’t know before you return to the material you are familiar with.
  • Don’t play catchup. If you haven’t kept up with course readings, don’t start now. Instead, read chapter summaries and chapter objectives. If necessary, only read the chapter sections required for the exam and not covered during class.
  • Test yourself. Just reading or recopying your notes is ineffective and can lead to poor results. Instead, re-organize the information you are learning using charts, concept maps and/or timelines. Take the chapter quizzes and make flashcards or test questions for yourself. Challenge yourself to write down everything you know about a course topic/concept/section without looking at your notes/text, and then fill in the gaps. Not knowing is part of learning, so don’t stress if you don’t know much the first time you do this. Your knowledge will improve!
  • Do Practice Problems (lots!). If you are in problem-based course (Math, Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering), do LOTS of practice problems (even the hard ones). Don’t reverse engineer (i.e., don’t start with the answer and figure it out in reverse) because you can’t do that during an exam. If you have trouble figuring out where to start – use ALC ‘s GUESS strategy.
  • Be proactive. If you have questions, your first step should be to contact your professor, instructor or teaching assistant. You can also find recorded Academic Success Workshops that can help you continue to succeed, or you can book an appointment with an Academic Learning Centre content/study skills tutor.
  • Study with others. Reviewing material with a classmate and having a second perspective can benefit both of you. Studying in a group setting can also help students stay focused and motivated. Consider attending a Virtual Study Hall session through the Academic Learning Centre to study with others. No registration is required.
    • Study hall runs on Thursday from 6 pm to 7:30 pm and Saturday from 3 pm to 5 pm until December 17. The study halls will be facilitated by student staff with training in study skills and can, if asked, help with goal setting, and direct you to additional final exam study sources.

 

PRACTICE SELF-CARE

Being at your best during exams means you should focus on your wellness as much as you focus on studying. Many resources can help you thrive and take care of yourself. Here are some suggestions:

  • Find a balance. Eat healthy meals, get the rest that you need and move your body. Take advantage of UM Recreation Services’ wide range of virtual workout sessions and the facilities and programs on campus.
  • Get support. If you get anxious about exams, you are not alone. The Student Counselling Centre offers counselling services for students, including groups and workshops available throughout the year.
  • Develop good habits. Consult with the UM Health and Wellness Educator for tips on stress management and other ideas for healthier living. Healthy U also has multiple resources you can access at any time.
  • Take short breaks regularly. Getting up and moving when you’re studying can help prevent neck pain and headaches. Doing this also gives your mind a rest so you can return to your work feeling refreshed.
  • Make time for things that bring you joy and help you relax. Enjoy a hobby, spend time in nature, tidy up your space or connect with friends and family.
  • Remember to breathe. It’s easy to forget this when you’re feeling stressed. Simply close your eyes and count your breaths, focusing on inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.
  • Remember that your self-worth and value as a person is not determined by one test score or one exam. No matter the results of your exams or course grades, you are worthy of living a good life. Acknowledge how hard you’re working, show yourself kindness and remember that you are doing the best you can.

Look out for more exam-related tips on UM Today and @umstudent and @umfirstyearcentre on Instagram!

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