Getting Ready for Exams

The fall semester is drawing to a close and everyone is getting ready for exams, which officially start on December 5th.

If - once you really stop and think about the sheer amount of work that needs to be done before exams - your airway tightens and your vision starts to fade, the first thing you need to do is calm down. Whatever you do, whether you're ready or not, the exams are going to happen, and you might as well be prepared. If that isn't you, then congratulations - you're halfway there! .

However you feel about getting ready to write your exams, here are a couple bits of advice to get  you started:

Check and double-check the exam schedule.
Here. Write down the exam times and room numbers and make sure you have them right. Check the times don't conflict, and that there haven't been any changes since the last time you looked. You can't rock the exam paper if you never get to it.

It's also a good idea to skim through the information they have on the web page, to make sure you have at least a vague idea of how the exam will be run and what you need to do. Besides knowing when and where to write the exam, you should also know what you need to bring and the steps you should take if you get sick or can't make it to the exam.

Sleep. Eat. Breathe.
These are surprisingly basic things that quite a few people forget about when they're stressed, but they can take you a long way. One of the best ways to be prepared for an exam is to be fully conscious and alert going into it. Pace yourself and don't forget to live while you're studying - this includes taking breaks and not depriving yourself of all human contact. Save the all-nighters for partying afterward, if you like.

Always helps, but sleep is ultimately preferable if you can get it.

Know your stuff.
Obvious, but necessary. If there's anything in the course work or instructions that you're unsure about, the best thing to do is ask: peers, T.A.s, professors - you can even flag down invigilators during your exam. Losing marks on technicalities and misinformation is frustrating, and it happens all too often. Make sure you know what you need to do, because very few people will give you the answers you need without being prompted to do so.

Make lists and prioritize.
One of the things that helps the most is giving yourself a clear idea of what you need to do. That way, you can figure out how you might be able to get them done and how long it'll take you. Try making lists for each course, breaking down each chapter and including important course concepts. They don't have to be exhaustive - all they need to do is provide you with a general sense of direction. For final exams, there's an awful lot of material to sift through, and it can become a little less daunting if you can break it down and take it one step at a time.

Don't forget about the resources available to you.
Ryerson has a variety of resources that you can take advantage of. If you have the chance, well, take advantage of them! After all, they're here for you, and you want to be as prepared as possible.

Something you can take a look at is the Learning Success Centre website - they have all sorts of resources that can help you get going and stay focused, not only for exams, but also throughout the academic year. If you're not sure where to start, check out the great tip sheets on test preparation and time management.


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