Study Tips for Exam Week

As you prepare for final exams, you need to have a strategy to make it through the week. These studying tips will help you organize your time and succeed.

Get Enough Sleep

exam week take a nap
First things first, get enough sleep! When studying for exam week it is best to study in advance instead of cramming the night before. Try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. You need enough sleep to recall information and think through the questions. Once you’ve finished studying for the night try to relax so that you can get to sleep more easily.

Take Breaks

exam week take a break
While you are studying, it is best to take a break every few hours. You can only concentrate for so long and you need to take breaks to retain information. After so many hours of studying, take 30-60 minutes to do something mindless that you enjoy.  Watch an episode of your latest Netflix addiction or scroll through your social media news feed and forget about the stress for a while.

Type Your Notes

exam week type your notes

Type out your notes from class and combine the information with corresponding facts from the textbooks. This way you have a comprehensive overview of the material to review. If you already type your notes in class add information from the textbook to make sure that you will remember all of the information you need to succeed. If you do this throughout the semester you will have a comprehensive study guide for the semester.

Study in Groups

exam week study groups

Studying in groups is helpful when comparing and contrasting notes, especially if you have a difficult professor. Sharing study tips with each other is also helpful. Some people study better alone but most people benefit from studying as a group. In a group you can ask and answer questions to prepare for the exam and discuss the information that you think is the most important. There should be places for you to study in groups at the library and you can usually reserve a study room.

Make Flashcards

exam week flashcards
Making flashcards is a great way to review for your exams. You can use the term on one side to either write out the definition or you can use the definition on one side to review the term or fact. It is best to make flash cards throughout the semester and keep them in a file to review at the end of the semester. The information can seem less overwhelming when it’s broken up into individual questions you are tackling one at a time.

Drink Coffee

exam week drink coffee
Drinking coffee will help you be more alert and be able to think more clearly. If your classes are in the morning and you have been studying late, make sure to drink coffee to wake up. If you have night classes, it is still a good idea to drink coffee before a night exam to avoid getting tired. Make sure you drink a glass of water to each cup of coffee you have to avoid dehydration.

Review the Chapters

exam week Review the Chapters

If you have time, re-read the chapters your exams are covering. If not, scan the chapters and find the information that you think is most important and facts that you have covered in your notes and the text. Studying the textbook is the best way to succeed in most classes. Most of the test will come from the reading because the professors want to make sure that you did the required reading that they assigned and paid attention to their lectures on the textbook in class.

Listen to Music

exam week listen to music

Listening to a playlist while you study for exams can help you relax. Most students get nervous before exams, especially if this is your first semester or year. You can go to youtube and listen to music for exam study concentration or to cool down between study sessions.

Bring Snacks

studying tips bring snacksYou should bring a water bottle or drink and a snack to class if you are taking a long exam and the professor allows you to do so. Drinking too much caffeine can make you shakey. Make sure to stay hydrated and eat every so many hours to stay steady.

Follow these studying tips to the best of your ability and you will have success on exam week. Once you have finished exams, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment! Go out with friends or go holiday shopping. Good luck! Have any other tips? Share with us in the comments below!

Bounce Back from Post – Midterm Blues

Midterms got you feeling down?


You know the semester is well underway when you’ve already gotten your first midterm grade back. One thing I’ve found after a long summer break – I never do as well on that first midterm fall semester… But, you can’t let a bad grade on an exam, paper or assignment discourage you. Here are some ways to bounce back:

• Remember that this won’t decide the rest of your life.

• Meet with your TAs and Professors to see how you can improve.

• Work in study groups so you can get help from your peers.

• Don’t dwell on the bad grade, because that won’t help.

• Make sure you are getting all the notes and understanding all the homework.

• Try a different study method, maybe yours doesn’t work as well as you thought it did.

• Go over the notes from the midterm you did badly on so that the information won’t be back to bite you on the final.

One last thing to remember after getting a bad test score is that college is HARDER than high school. You will probably have to change your study practices from high school. In college, while getting good grades IS important, it’s more important to really understand the material.

You Failed An Exam: Is it Really the End of the World?

Chances are you have probably failed a test, quiz or exam at one point or another. If you haven’t, bravo, but if you have then you understand the feeling of anxiety and panic thinking that there is no way you can overcome such a huge blow to your grade. However, there is a way that you can make up for those points and possibly avoid receiving an F in the future.

  1. Staying on top of your homework in the beginning of the semester/quarter will alleviate future problems. There is a reason for homework, although some people call it busy work. Homework is designed for you to refresh your memory about what you learned in class that day, and to bring back any questions you may have about your assignment. Homework to a student is what exercise is to an athlete – they go hand-in-hand. In order for an athlete to grow, he or she has to exercise and practice. In the same, we have homework and assignments so that we are practicing the material before an exam is given. Nothing feels worse than getting an exam where you are unsure about over 50 percent of the questions.
  2. Reach out for help from your professors. They’re not scary people who will look down upon you for letting them know that you don’t understand the course material. If you fail an exam, go to your professor and ask them about the reason you received low marks on some of your questions. Ask them what you can do next time to improve, and let them know that you’re struggling. Keeping quiet and hiding in the back of the classroom doesn’t prove to the professor that you actually care about your grade. Faculty members more than likely will not approach their students, so it’s wise to show them that you care by letting them know you’re having difficulties understanding what their teaching.
  3. Be honest about the decisions you are making. This point is for the people who blame everyone else but themselves for failing their exam. Simply put: if you choose to go out and party knowing you have an exam at 8 a.m., then that’s your prerogative. However, if you fail that exam the next day or miss taking the test, then that’s your fault. It’s your responsibility to make choices based upon priorities that you have and the impression you want to make. Professors are very keen on knowing the students who legitimately try to learn the course material versus the ones who are just taking a class because they’re required to do so.
  4. Never give up on yourself. Failing an exam is rough, and makes you feel like all of the studying in the world isn’t good enough. In fact, a lot of students will give up on themselves after receiving an F because they feel like they will never learn the course material. However, beating yourself up for something that you didn’t fully understand is not going to solve the problem or make you ready for the next exam. Take the time to find out what the problems were so that you can fix them and be prepared for your next test. By pushing forward you will find that it isn’t the end of the world and that you can succeed after failing an exam.


I’m reading Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics

Tips to Beat Exam Stress

As the end of September is beginning to approach and students are noticing the calendar pages flipping, the first, or second, maybe even third exam might be lurking on the horizon. For upper level college students, many have gotten the hang of exam taking. For the college freshman, here are a few tips to help avoid stress during exam weeks and successfully study for exams.

Tip #1:Get organized
The first step to exam taking is knowing when the exam will be. Get a planner or calendar that allows you to see and take note of exams in the week and upcoming weeks. Having a planner can also help one to set specific study times, classes, tutoring, etc. The planner/calendar will help you organize your time and prepare for the exam.

Tip #2:Find a quiet place to study
For many freshman, the first year of college means dorm life. Dorm life means that there are people around 24/7 and not everyone in the dorm will be running on the same schedule. Finding a quiet, secluded, space to study will allow one to focus more. A good place to look for is a quiet nook in the library or quiet area of a classroom building. Sometimes studying with friends might not be the best way to study. Go to a place where your friends might not find you, and bother you.

Tip #3:Turn your cell phone/iPod/TV/computer off
Believe it or not, Facebook is NOT a study tool. Tweeting to your friends about review problems and answers isn’t quite effective either. TURN IT OFF. Turning off your cell phone/ipod/TV/computer allows for less distractions. Most of the time, all you need is your book, a highlighter, notebook, and a good cup of coffee. If you worry that people will be trying to get a hold of you, update your Facebook status telling your friends you are studying and you will be unavailable for a trip to the cafe, but maybe after the exam is over.

Tip #4:Learn to say NO
Opportunities are perpetually lurking on a college campus. In a dorm full of hundred of kids, getting an invite to hang out isn’t usually hard to find. The hardest thing to say to a friend might be, “No”. If you have an exam in the morning and you know that you do not understand the information being tested over like the back of your hand, declining an invitation to a late-night trip to Wal-Mart would be in your best interest. No is a word in our vocabulary, DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE IT. There will always be another opportunity to play video games. In college, you only get one opportunity to take a test. Learn how to say no at the right time.

Tip #5:Study more than 1 day in advance
Some people learn better when they “cram” for exams. Rarely does a student not benefit from studying a couple of days in advance. Allow yourself some time in your schedule to study and review your notes for the exam. Reading or rereading the assigned reading assignments might be boring, but beneficial. The professors assign the readings for a reason. Organize your notes, retype them, review them. By giving yourself a few days to soak the information in, the day before the exam might not be so hectic.

Tip #6:Get sleep
Sleep is essential, especially when it comes to exam week. Getting the proper sleep the night before the exam is especially important, but throughout the week as well. If you know that you are already exhausted in a regular day after getting only 7 hours asleep, adding more studying into the equation can take even more energy out of you. When you have enough energy, it is easier to focus on what you are studying. What college student doesn’t love getting a couple of extra hours of sleep anyways??

Tip #7:Take study breaks
We are not robots, so sitting for hours looking at pages and pages of readings and notes is not exciting. By allowing yourself to take short and frequent study breaks, information will be retained more than if a student were to study for hours straight through the night. Study for an hour, take a short 10 minute break (check your Facebook if you must, send a tweet, update your location on foursquare), but get right back to serious study mode. By giving your brain a break, you can remember more of what you have learned.

Tip #8:Add free-time to your schedule
College is a serious place. It can make you or break you. College can introduce you to your best friends, show you places you want to go, and help you find out who you want to be. The purpose of college is not solely to immerse yourself in textbooks and notebooks. There are tons of opportunities, so get out there and take one!! You can’t take life too seriously, have fun, laugh often, and put yourself around friends you enjoy. Leave some space in your planner for some free-time for yourself or to spend time with friends. You will be less stressed and have a smile on your face.

Do you have any de-stressing tips for fellow college students? If so, we want to hear them!
Kat VonD
I am reading Mathematical Applications