How to work towards a stress-free exam season

Although COVID-19 has changed the way we live, it has not changed the fact that we will still have to go through with exams.

This poses some challenges to the way we study. With campus being off-limits, some of us no longer have the quiet and conducive atmosphere that University libraries and study nooks can provide. We no longer have access to late-night study sessions with KFC Grattan St as a succulent reward.

How then can we best adapt in this new environment? Here are some useful exam preparation tips that I’ve found helpful in navigating this exam season:

  1. Don’t go it alone

    Even if you have found working together with others in a group assignment to be challenging, preparing for exams with others as part of study group can be more enjoyable and beneficial than you realise. Being able to ask your peers questions you are unsure about is a great way to fill in knowledge gaps. Having concepts explained in a different way can help you understand ideas that no amount of rewinding a lecture recording can achieve. You can also find out what other students find difficult and be better prepared for any curve ball questions that may come up on the exam.

    However, these study groups can be quite hard to find,so the best plan is to ask within your tutorial (yes, this means speaking in the Zoom breakout rooms). If there aren’t any in your tutorial, you can always take the lead and set up your own study group through group chats.

  2. Remember to ask questions

    In addition to study groups, attending a tutor consultation is another avenue to ask for help. Tutor consultations are the perfect place to get your queries about exams and assignments answered. All the tutors at University are very helpful and are really looking out for you. Consultations an be a good opportunity to compare notes with peers. Others might have a question for the tutor that you may also find beneficial, so remember to make room for peers to ask questions and listen to the tutor’s responses.

  3. Start early

    Starting your revision early is of absolute importance in ensuring a stress-free and successful exam season. However, this is easier said than done. A good way to start is to establish a solid study routine early and increase the amount of revision as SWOTVAC approaches. Avoid the stress and frustration of trying to understand how to balance financial statements the night before the exam.

  4. Test yourself repeatedly

    The second last tip I have, and what I find the most important in exam preparation, is to practise as much as possible.

    There are many ways to do this, and everyone has their own preference.

    Some like to use cue cards and mind maps to revise important concepts. These methods help develop recall ability if your subject is very detail-heavy, such as marketing and management subjects.

    However, do remember that recall ability alone isn’t enough, and that you will not only need to remember concepts and theories, but also understand and apply them in different scenarios and settings. A good test is to see whether you can explain concepts and answers to questions to someone who has zero knowledge on the subject. Being able to teach a concept effectively is the standard that you should aspire to.

  5. Look after yourself

    And finally, remember to look after yourself. Although assessments are important, your overall health and mental wellbeing contributes more to exam success than you may realise.

    A practical way to find some balance in your life during stressful times is to take breaks between study sessions, stay connected with friends, and lean on each other for support. Because although COVID-19 has changed the way we live, it has not changed the fact that we will still have to go through with exams.

    Kenneth Guevarra, BCom student