‘Tis the season! 8 tips for success in final exams!

November 29, 2012

Crunch time. Bookbags up to the front, cellphones turned off. Calculators on, pencils out. For the next three hours, the sounds of pencils furiously scratching against paper fills the room. Relief, defeat. Internal emotions run wild.

Final exam season is looming over our heads. Exams are about to begin for both CNA and Grenfell Campus students. This definitive stressful time finds students slurping down coffee and energy drinks and doing all-nighters to survive.

I’m busy preparing for my own exams, so I offer up these tips that students of all ages can incorporate into their routine to make the exam period a little smoother.

1. Do not cram. Give yourself plenty of time.

For most people, cramming usually doesn’t work. You retain more if you cover material bit by bit. I’ve gone back to the beginning of each course, doing various problems in physics, chemistry, stats, hydraulics and hydrology, and reading the theory material behind them.

2. Use an agenda.

An agenda is one of the best organizational tools you have for exam preparation, and day-to-day work.

I always have my agenda close by. I check off each homework item as I complete it (which also includes my CornerBrooker.com columns!). Both CNA and Grenfell include agendas in their orientation packages at the beginning of the year. They’re very handy, and you can likely pick one up at your school.

I also use Sticky notes, and post reminders to myself everywhere.

3. Set up a study area

Keep a study area clean and organized so you’re not overwhelmed.

4. Don’t panic during the exam. 

This is still difficult for me, as I am prone to test anxiety. Breathe deep, meditate…do whatever keeps you calm.

5. Re-write.

If you have notes from an instructor, re-write them in your own words. Paraphrasing helps you understand the material. I have a spare notebook for every course that I use to re-write the whole thing as much as possible.

6. If you’re tight on time, don’t study the material you know well.

Concentrate on the hardest parts of the course and move outward from there. If you’re confident about a chunk of material, you should be good to go.

7. Learn actively.

During the semester, go to class as much as possible. Active learning helps you retain material, and instructors are always giving clues as to what’s on the exam.

8. Eat well.

Keep yourself healthy during the exam period! Seriously, getting sick in the middle of exams will make everything worse.


That’s it for me until December 27! Since I’ll be in the middle of exams, I won’t be contributing a column until then.

Good luck to all students over the next few weeks!