Wow, finals. That just happened. I will be honest by saying I didn’t do as good as I intended (regardless of good development through the term) why? I did not prioritize. I had too much fun, I did! Who can blame me? I have amazing friends and had amazing times. Worth it? A bit. Why not? School-comes-first! Being an anxious person, school is one of those things that completely depend on my will to make it work. I chose how much to study when to do my homework and I chose how much effort to give my work. Having had such a good term though, it packed me with tons of tricks and tips on how to study and how to do good in class without compromising your social life or your ‘me time’ (something I completely believe in and will address in further posts.)
So, let’s get to it!
I know…. I KNOW... nobody ever reads the textbook, trust me I’ve tried. That’s the key word here.. I tried. What I would recommend is (if you really don’t have the time or will to do so) to ask your teacher what topic will be included the most on the exam or maybe it’ll be a conceptual question, etc. That way you can pick your battles when it comes to what material to read. If not...textbooks always have a little ‘Summary’ at the end of their chapters, go give that a look before class! It’ll make you feel less daunted about terminology/concepts.
2-Buy a planner, download a planner, just get a planner!
I have yet to have a robot friend or classmate. We are all humans, and we all forget things, that’s why we write them down! (: But seriously, have you seen how cute planners can be?! Like you can really get into it….However, if you’re more like me you’ll mainly use it as your everyday To-Do List! I usually take the syllabus and pre-write all my due dates in my planner for the whole term, that way I don’t even have to remember to do so weekly (laziness at it’s best for sure). There are tons of apps (trust me I looked) for almost every mobile/tech device out there that will remind you about your tasks. It’s as easy as saying ‘Siri, set a reminder for Monday 2 PM….) and Siri will remind you! People spend years coding these softwares, so use them to your advantage. (Other examples of reminder/task apps: Google Alerts, Apple Reminders, Google Calendar, MeisterTask, etc.) (This is my current planner)
3-Do the homework even if it is not mandatory
I used to hate homework and think teachers were legit evil for giving it out...until I started doing it as a means of practice. We’ve all missed homework and that’s normal, life happens. However, setting a specific time for this is crucial. This is where the prioritizing comes in. Yes, we all want to go out and see a movie or meet our friends, but homework must come first (sad, but true). Mine would usually be due Tue-Th. So, I’d spend Thursday night after class, Friday morning and all Sunday finishing it up. Any day of the weekend to be honest, what helped me is I wake up fairly early (anywhere from 7-8:30) so I get the quiet morning time to just focus on my homework while the world starts its engine. By 9-10 when I have other stuff to do, I’ve already dedicated at least an hour or two to my homework.
Pro Tip: Try waking up early!! On other posts, I will keep talking about what it means to have a healthy lifestyle while in school and priorities. But for now, I’ll just throw it out there. Try waking up one hour earlier than you usually do!
4- Do not...DO NOT...cram it all up the night before
It’s a don’t but we all do, don’t we? We’re like noooo, I didn’t think it was this much’ and yep, you’re basically screwed then. My best exam was my midterm, want to know what I did? I hung out with my Pipette friend (that’s how I call my best friend, because Science) and studied for at least an hour or two for like 3 days. We both got an A (mind you the class average was 74, with a curve) you know...just before bed, or while on the bus...spread it out. There is no need to prove to anyone you’re Heisenberg. This way you can allow yourself to ask questions and notice what your ‘weak spots’ are and prepare for that. If you do it with enough time in advance you might even be able to get your questions answered by your teacher (which they always appreciate it before a test, students actually trying and studying)
5- DOWNLOAD QUIZLET I mean, if you want to (to pass the class I mean).
Okay, why had no one told me about Quizlet, I knew it existed, did I know how life changing this app would be? Heck, no. I’m sure most of you know it by now, but if you live under a rock like I did, you may not. This app lets you create flashcards as well as look at other people’s sets. You can have it read them to you, do them while on the bus, waiting in an office, having breakfast. This is the same option as doing flashcards, I just find preparing flashcards to be too time consuming for me (since I want them to look nice and all). You can do them on your computer and just download the app to your phone. Trust me...memorizing math equations/identities/derivatives? Thanks, Quizlet! (I can only imagine how helpful this must be for Biology students…)
6-Take care of yourself!!
Ugh! I can’t express this enough. I know it’s hard, I know some of you might have several jobs, and duties on top of each other but there is always something that can be done regarding your situation. I wake up early and must drink a cup of coffee. Is it the best I can do? Probably not...but it’s what works for me in order to get all my stuff done. I don’t always get my allotted sleep time, but I make sure to get enough so my body keeps going. I meal prep and plan my snacks ahead of time so I don’t even have to take time thinking what I am eating that day. Please, if you know you’ve got a busy week ahead of you go buy some protein bars/drinks, take up an hour or two and make a week’s worth of food, etc. I usually stock up on 5 things- Coffee, Instant Oatmeal, powdered PB, chicken and veggies. I eat these religiously and lord knows I keep myself going big time. I can further share my meal plans/prep ideas. Remember, you can’t ask your body for more than what you’re willing to give!
Extra PSA: Do you have Test Anxiety? If no matter how hard you try, you get completely flustered during an exam, go seek counseling! They might be able to help you out! I’ve done Alternative Testing and it works wonders for me!
Well, these are just some pointers I found extra helpful in my success for exams. Try some of them out or share your strategies with me!
Karelly is from Monterrey, MX and recently moved to the U.S to become a Chemistry undergrad in Portland, OR. She plans on becoming a Science Communicator and advocate for Women in STEM. She runs her own blog thesolutionisk.com along with her Instagram page: KarellyRG. She hopes to soon start uploading videos to her YouTube which can be found on her page. Her goal is to promote an image of a healthy lifestyle paired with academic development for all STEM majors. Make sure to talk to her via Instagram and share your favorite science concepts!