Photo By: Priscilla Du Preez from Unsplash

Exams can be the most stressful time for students, especially given how COVID-19 has altered the usual formats when it comes to university course evaluations. 

Some of my own courses continue to follow the traditional structure of having a mid-term examination and then a big essay or equivalent of some sort at the end of the semester, whereas other professors pepper in a bunch of small assignments with no real big exam. Worst of all are those few courses that have both and end up taking a ton of your time up. 

While this is, by no means, a guide meant to be applicable to everyone, here are some tips I’ve found useful for handling this time of the year:

Don’t procrastinate. But if you do, procrastinate effectively

It’s frustrating to be constantly berated today about how much we young people procrastinate; we get it. However, as students in the gig economy, there’s a lack of awareness of how fluid you are expected to be and the ways that’s exhausting in and of itself; filling up entire days with things to get done, juggling work with relationships and academics, etc. I’ve noticed that oftentimes procrastination “issues” for students end up just being their body finally overriding the constant need to feel productive and forcing rest upon us and then the wonderful cycle of guilt for having rested kicks in. You probably know what I’m talking about. 

A way to circumvent this is to find tricks for procrastinating that have little rewards at the end. For example, if you know you’re going to binge a Netflix series despite it being a crucial period to get work done (not condoning this, by the way), make a rule or game out of it that every episode equals X amount of study time or what have you. You can get creative with it. The thing to avoid with procrastination when being a student at this moment is the nearly tyrannical expectation that you shouldn’t procrastinate ever. It’s going to happen to some extent, so why not account for and accommodate it?

More trickery

Another little psychological trick I find useful when it comes to big writing assignments is “idea jotting.” If you’re anything like me and are familiar with that vertiginous, paralyzing feeling when confronted with beginning a writing task, then this is for you. I’ll pretend that I’m just jotting ideas down, then go back to edit, and voila! It works about 70 per cent of the time, but even if it doesn’t, at least you have a better idea about what you won’t be writing for your paper, that’s gotta count for something.

Get proper sleep

You’ve heard this one a million times, just do it. Also staying hydrated, getting some exercise each week, and making time for yourself are other important healthy practices for getting through exams relatively unscathed. 

Environment 

A nice way to overcome the issue of procrastination, as mentioned above, is to simply be in an environment that doesn’t offer easy escapes. So maybe get away from rooms with monitors or that have a bed nearby, etc. 

Going to the library or studying with groups can be great ways to get into a productive mindset. If, for whatever reason, getting out of the house is not an available option for you, you can still alter your environment in helpful ways. Removing distraction for self-imposed study periods can be a good practice for getting into the right frame of mind, and can even lead to residual productive effects. Isn’t it the best when you get way more than you expected done in any given day because you had a good start? 

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel 

These last couple years have been tough. Be kind to yourself; we’re almost there. 

Good luck Badgers and happy exam season!