How NOT to Psych Yourself Out Before an Exam



Let’s get down to something that’s going to drive us all crazy this coming month: exams. I can already hear terrified shrieks as some of you merely read the word. All-nighters, pervasive coffee breath, and complete disregard for physical appearance are only some of the symptoms of this dreadful epidemic. From what I’ve mentioned so far, it’s apparent that exams can cause a fair amount of panic, be it from testophobia (yes, that’s actually the word for it) or last minute work. So let’s talk about tackling exam stress and avoiding a freak situation at the eleventh hour.

Prepare ahead of time, TRUST ME.

Believe me when I say I am a pathological procrastinator, but first year really sobered me up. Anyone in PSY100 will agree with the fact that the course is basically made up of extensive readings. Out of the six quizzes we had in the year, I spent an equal six nights crying in fetal position out of fear of not being able to finish the readings. For the final exam, however, I started two weeks ahead and completed my readings comfortably. Result? Good marks. It’s that simple (I know right, who would’ve thought?).

Some simple steps for final exam success:

1)   Lay out your syllabus and plan to finish it in chunks – make a timetable.

2)   Create short and long term goals (e.g., two chapters per day and ten chapters per week)

3)   DON’T go overboard. It may be time to get serious, but rewarding yourself with SHORT breaks is the key to keep yourself going (seriously, no one wants you to burn out the week before finals). Make sure you’re always well fed, well hydrated, and healthy.

I know you’re probably thinking, ‘tell me something I don’t know’ or ‘if it were that easy we’d all be scholars.’ Just keep reading…

So, what do you do when, despite knowing all of this, you’re stuck with the entire syllabus the day before your final paper? Instead of freaking out, do something – it’s all about prioritizing.

1)   Look at emails, handouts, past tests etc. your professor might have given you. There are almost always clues to pick up on to guide you through your studies. These are vital. If the professor says it might show up on the final, it probably will, so you might as well guarantee yourself those marks.

2)   There are definitely going to be some things you have a better idea of in comparison to other topics. Solidify your knowledge on the topics that you know. Spend half your day making sure that you are 100% sure of familiar concepts.

3)   Spend the second half of your day going through the key points of other topics. These points might be from your friend’s notes, the back of your textbook, from subheadings in the textbook, a study guide – whatever. Just make sure you understand the key points of unfamiliar topics.

With these pointers you might not ace the exam, but you will get an average mark, and at the eleventh hour, you take what you can get. Next time, hopefully, you’ll learn. And who knows, the sheer brilliance of my advice might even bring out the 4.0 students in all of you.

Let’s hope this exam season is less sorrowful than others. If you have something to say that I’ve not already mentioned, drop us a comment!