How To Survive College: How To Survive Exams

As you may or may not know (if you don’t: where have you been all this time?!?): I’m a college student. And because I do take on quite an extra load of work (extra courses, a job, extracurricular activities) and still do manage to get quite good marks (in general, there’s exceptions to every rule), I have been told that I’m pretty good at the whole studying thing.
What’s more, I have been asked how exactly I do it, and seeing how as “no sleep, no life” apparently wasn’t a sufficient answer, I figured I’d write some of my tips down here!
Today: how to survive exams!


First of all: once you’ve studied everything, if you have any mock exams or exam questions that you can get your hands on, make them! There’s no better way to make sure you actually know your stuff – but that also means that there really is no point in making them unless you feel like you’ve already mastered everything, because otherwise you’ll just end up stressing yourself out needlessly!

That seamlessly leads me to my second tip: don’t stress needlessly – trust me on this one, I do this all the time – and at the time, I am oh so sure that the stress is absolutely necessary. However, not only does that often turn out to be less than true afterwards, it doesn’t actually help anything. So stop it. Right now.
(Okay, so it’s not actually that easy, but seriously, just plain old getting yourself more stressed out over whatever really isn’t any good, so try to avoid it!)
Thirdly: get enough sleep – I don’t care if you’re scared you’re not going to be able to get everything done, if you think you can handle it – biology says you can’t. You need your sleep, your body needs the chance to get its energy back, and your brain needs the chance to actually save what you’ve just forced it to remember. And the only way to get those? Sleep. (And eating healthy, but that’s just common sense).

Now, I’m not saying you can’t pull an all-nighter – occasionally, if you make sure to catch up on your sleep later, and with the added advantage of a couple of power naps somewhere throughout the day. But remember that being exhausted on your exam will usually result in you making more stupid mistakes than not knowing everything perfectly by heart ever could!

Then, of course, the exam itself: the morning of, make sure you have some breakfast. I’m a classic person who gets nauseous because of stress, so this is really something I have to force myself to do, but you’re going to need the energy. Don’t forget to bring along a bottle of water and a small snack for during the exam – again, you want to keep those energy levels up, and having a small bite or a sip of water can allow your brain the break it needs to finally remember what has been on the tip of your tongue all along.
There’s some really logical stuff, of course, such as: make sure you bring enough pens, bring a pencil, an eraser, don’t forget to put your phone off (or at least put it on silent, somewhere far away from you), and I could go on and on.
Once you get your exam in front of you: start by looking for a question you can fill in – be it the first, the second, or the last but one – the minute you can answer one of them, the rest of what you studied will come back to you. Whatever you do, don’t freak out if you feel like everything’s gone – it generally will come back to you 🙂
Finally, if you have a problem, with making exams, with studying for them – don’t be afraid to ask for help. In high school, I developed a huge fear of failure for physics – I was pretty much aiming at perfection (and falling short, grandly) anyways, but for some reason I just could not fail those test. Of course, I ended up getting myself so worked up that I just had black out after black out. I’d study everything, I’d understand everything, but by the time the exam or test rolled around, everything was gone.
Luckily, my teacher also taught me chemistry, a course in which I did score well, so he knew I wasn’t trying to have one on him when I went to him about this – and he actually figured out a way to help me! At this point, my exams for most sciences were in person, and always started with us picking out of a big pile of questions one main question and one secondary question. He let me pick those questions, gave me 10 minutes, and then came back to check on me – if I was drawing a blank, he offered me the chance to draw a new question. Usually, because of the completely different subject, I would be able to say at least something about that one, and although I got down marked something like 5% for having to chose a second question, it did help me immensely and guaranteed me being able to graduate with good marks for physics!
In general, your teachers, your professors, your teacher’s aids – they’re there to help you, and they want you to succeed almost as much as you do!
Anyways, that’s it – this was (for now :p ) the last post in this series. I hope you’ve gotten some use out of these tips, (even if just to realise what you’re not going to do) – so be sure to let me know below!
-Saar