students laughing and studying together at a table in the Student Life Centre

Exam Season Guide

Welcome to your guide for exam season! Set yourself up for success and better your mindset as you enter this demanding part of the term. 

It may not be your favourite time of the year, but final exam season is here. Don’t worry, we are here to support you through it and give you some great tips to help you to succeed this term.  

Step 1: Plan it out

University life gets hectic and deadlines sneak up fast. Making a plan can help relieve stress by getting organized to help manage your time. Falling behind? Don't worry! Connect with a friendly Peer Success Coach at the Student Success Office (SSO). They'll help you whip up a game plan and boost those study skills. Plan to start next term off on the right track and bookmark these Learning Support resources. You'll find a collection of quick tips for exams, micro-courses, events and more! 

Step 2: Develop your process

Navigating exam season can be a challenge, especially if it's your first time. It's helpful to build a plan that is right for you. Schedule study time, build in breaks and connect with classmates. Our campus is bursting with a variety of support resources. For example, did you know our residences provide drop-in tutoring and study spaces

AccessAbility Services (AAS) has supports to cater to specific needs. Need to make alternative testing arrangements or access assistive technology to support your learning style? AAS also offers accommodation and assistive tech to ease exam stress. Consider applying for accommodations in future terms as it takes a few weeks to process—and no doctor's note required to apply for accommodations!

Students studying in front of window

Navigating the PAC with King Warrior!

Step 3: Scout out campus

Having a quiet study spot is key to ensure you stay focused. Your room may be a solid choice, but mix it up with other campus spots or in-residence spaces. The Claudette Millar Great Hall hosts a 24/7 quiet study ambiance and all residences kick into quiet mode at 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends, amped up to 23 hours during exam season.

Pro tips:

  • Use the Portal map Layers feature to spot open classrooms that can be used for group study sessions.
  • Before exams hit, double-check your locations on the final examination schedule. Scout your route and venue beforehand to ensure you use the correct entrances for your exam location.
PAC exam set up

Step 4: Get your gear

Do you know the exam room essentials? Here's what you should bring with you: 

  • WatCard. 

  • Authorized aids specified by your instructor (faculty-approved calculator, formula sheet, etc.). 

  • Writing essentials (pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers—confirm with instructors, e.g., scantrons may need pencil only). 

  • Hydrate with clear, label-free water (W Store has approved reusable bottles)

  • Your face mask, you never know when you may need it. 

  • Keep it minimal—bring only what you need; personal items stay at home. 

Step 5: Take care of you

Exam stress hits us all differently. Sometimes showing up as headaches, tense muscles, or restless nights. Each person's stress is different—maybe it's fear of failing, feeling unprepared, or life's chaos piling on. This is why it’s important to not forget yourself and prioritize your mental health and self-care! Refer to Campus Wellness for pre-exam and crunch-time stress tips and activities to help you get back on track. Boost your mood with Brain Breaks—14 videos to shake off the daily grind. And guess what? FREE fitness sessions pop up a week before exams and during crunch time. Don’t forget to keep your energy up with a quick snack or by grabbing a meal; there are endless and nutritious options to choose from on campus! Manage stress like a pro at Waterloo!

Step 6: Rest & recharge

Ease up on post-exam analysis. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, focus on what went well and move on. Speculating won't change results. Make time to treat yourself! You've earned it. Enjoy something you love or grab a celebratory treat. Spend moments with loved ones, venture outdoors, and ensure you're refreshed and set to conquer the term ahead. 

students playing ping pong on campus
illustration of a lightbulb flashing on and off