This is the first time many of you will be writing final exams at university. It’s okay to be nervous or anxious! Know that our UWaterloo community is here to support your success.

Whether you’re feeling totally prepared, a little unsure, or the panic has set in, we’re here to support you. It’s important to be organized and have a plan to work through the stress of preparing for final exams. We’ve created the Warriors Exam Checklist to ensure you’ve got what you need to not just survive but thrive through exam season.

Regardless of where you are in your preparation for exam season, these six steps will help you get exam ready.

  1. Make a plan. University coursework is demanding, and the deadlines can quickly pile up. You may find it challenging to catch up if you fall behind. That’s where a solid plan will help you get back on track. For starters, you can book time with an upper-year Peer Success Coach from the Student Success Office. They can help you create a plan and strengthen your study skills. Take advantage of their Warrior Study Halls to study in a supported environment. Feeling the time crunch? Check out their online learning resources. There’s one specific to finding success on university tests and exams, regardless of where you’re at in your study plan.
  2. Learn the process. Understanding the ins and outs of exam season can be difficult when you’ve not yet experienced them first-hand. Our residences offer an environment that supports academic achievement by encouraging mutual respect amongst residents, specified quiet hours, and many free programs and services to help you succeed academically. Pro-tip, check back regularly for their updated drop-in tutoring session dates and times.

    AccessAbility Services (AAS) offers workshops throughout the term, right into early December to develop your test taking strategies. Register for their upcoming workshop on November 29 or December 6. The AAS Office also offers accommodations and assistive technologies that may help to reduce your anxiety about taking exams. Although the deadline for this term to apply for exam accommodations has passed, it may be worth exploring their accommodation services for future terms. Did we mention you don’t need a doctor’s note to apply for accommodations?
  3. Get familiar with the spaces. We know that having a quiet place to study is important for staying focused. Your room can be a great place to study, but if you need a change of scenery, there are a few study spaces to choose from across campus and in residence. 24-hour open quiet study space will be available in the Claudette Millar Great Hall. Each residence also has quiet hours beginning at 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. During exam periods, quiet hours are extended to 23-hours per day in each residence building. You can also use the Layers feature in the Portal map to see a list of open classrooms.

    Before exams start, double check your exam locations. Check thethe final examination schedule or access Odyssey for your personalized exam schedule.Depending on the course, it may be split into multiple locations. You’ll likely take your exams at various locations across campus (Physical Activities Complex, other classrooms), depending on the needs of each course. To ensure you will arrive for your exam on time, plan a trip to the exam location ahead of time to make sure you know how to get there and to get a sense of what the room looks like. For example, entrances to the Physical Activities Complex (PAC) are from Ring Road only. You cannot access your final exams in the PAC through the Student Life Centre. Don’t worry, there will be signage up on the walls to help you find your way.

    A high angle view of the desks and chairs set up in the Physical Activities Complex for exams.
  4. Prep your toolkit. Do you know what you can and cannot bring into the exam room?  Here’s what you can and should bring with you:
    1. WatCard. 
    2. Any authorized aids your instructor has mentioned (faculty-approved calculator, formula sheet, etc.)
    3. Pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers (clarify with instructors what you need to write the exam with; for example scantron sheets require pencil only).
    4. Only bring what you need for your exam, it’s best to leave personal belongings at home.
    5. Water is allowed, as long as it is in a clear bottle with no label (for example, a recyclable water bottle with the label peeled off). W Store also has clear, reusable water bottles approved for exams.
    6. Face mask.
  5. Beat exam stress. It can be easy to feel stressed during exam season. It can manifest in many ways including muscle tension, headaches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping and just generally feeling overwhelmed. Different people feel stress around exam season for a variety of reasons including worrying about possible failure, not feeling prepared, feeling pressure from family, feeling or having other life-events or difficulties happening at the same time as exams. Whatever the symptoms or reasons there are some simple strategies you can do to help name and manage your stress. Campus Wellness has a set of great tips of how to manage your stress leading up to and during exams. At Waterloo, you can combat stress by making your mental and physical health a priority. Give yourself a Brain Break! Athletics and recreation have compiled 14 different videos to take a break from the everyday grind. You can also take advantage of a FREE fitness schedule a week before exams start, and throughout the exam period.

    Nutrition is also an important part of managing your stress. If you find your energy level drops between meals, or if you’re feeling tired, irritable or have a headache you may need a tall glass of water and a well balance snack. Be sure to schedule nutritional breaks for yourself, especially during exam season. Know food services locations and hours and follow the smart snacking guide for how to make balanced choices.
  6. Rest and recover. Limit your post-exam analysis. Don’t focus on everything you think went wrong. Try to focus on the things you know went well and try to let it go. You won’t know the results until you get them, so speculating is just fruitless worry. Treat yourself! You worked hard to get to this point. Do something you enjoy or get yourself a celebratory treat. The last day of exams is Friday, December 23 and the next term doesn’t begin until January 9. Give yourself time and space to recharge your batteries, spend time with family and friends and get outdoors to make sure you’re rested and ready to take on the Winter term.

For more great tips this exam season follow @UWaterloolife, we’ve created a guide to share a variety of resources from across campus. Good luck Warriors! We’re rooting for you!