10 Totally Correct Exam Season Tips: Your Guide to Being Super Successful

Friday, December 2, 2016
by Ryan Patrick Welch

Okay, so how are you all feeling about final exams this December? Pretty solid? Great? Possibly even excited, because exams are a blast? Of course. These are all natural responses to one of the most exciting events on the academic calendar. Therefore, I feel this is a fitting time to impart some of the tips I’ve gathered over the years. Make sure to take these 100% literally, and you’ll crush your exams this season.

  1. You know all those notes you’ve been taking in lectures all year? Yeah, me neither, because all you need are the slides online. So when you’re revising, make sure you just skim through the lecture slides (in no particular order) while you side-watch Lost all over again.
  2. Related to #1, don’t bother re-writing anything. Practice problems? Concept maps? Exam essay scaffolding? All of these are overrated. Trust me, if you just stare at key terms while visualizing the 95% you’re going to get on the exam, you’ll be totally fine. Allen Iverson is good at basketball; therefore this is true. (Image source: Quickmeme)
    Allen Iverson press conference meme with caption
  3. Concepts you didn’t really get when they were taught to you in class? They’re dead to you. If you couldn’t figure it out then, then you never will. The exam period isn’t for studying; it’s for patting yourself on the back for the things you already know.
  4. Don’t try to draw broader relationships between different weeks and units of your coursework. Trying to weave a thread between all of the material from weeks 1-12 is just asking for a headache. Instead, pick one unit that you kinda get, and memorize it until the knowledge of one hyper-specific decontextualised piece of information falls out of you uncontrollably.
  5. Don’t bother prioritising your study schedule based on the dates of your exams. What’s that line about “the best laid plans”? Yeah, something about suffering. Thinking ahead causes unnecessary stress as your exam dates approach, Instead, wait until classes end and check your exam dates later, like on December 10th or something.
  6. Besides, you don’t need to plan in advance because cramming for exams the day before works 60% of the time, every time. Your brain is crazy powerful, and it prefers to be assaulted with 4 months of new information all at once. This guarantees that all of the new info is in one place and enters your head in equal measure. It’s like copying a bunch of files over from your external hard drive, but faster.
  7. Because of your rigorous cramming-schedule, it may be difficult to fit in regular food and water. Don’t worry about eating very much. Not only is it a time waster, but your body will spend precious energy on digesting and metabolizing stuff, taking away from your brain’s essential power to cram.
  8. On a similar note: don’t sleep. Sleep is for the weak. The decrease in leptin will help suppress your appetite (helping with tip #7) and your body will go on adrenaline kick as a kind of “runner’s high” takes effect. This will give you super-human cognitive powers. (Image source: WeKnowMemes)
    Daft punk meme captioned
  9. Avoid giving yourself chunks of time to step away from your intensive study regiment and take some “me” time. You don’t need it; it will merely distract you from all the learning you’re doing and give your mind an opportunity to wander. Not good.
  10. And lastly, make sure you only bring one pen to your exam. You know the pen, the one you’ve been using to not take notes all semester. It’s never failed you before, so why would it run out of ink now? Also, make sure you have a slight cold and sniffle all the way through the exam without bringing any Kleenex. It’ll help you focus by giving you a slight distraction from your exam, like a white noise machine or meditation.

Well, there you have it. A comprehensive survival guide for exam season! Remember, the above tips are merely suggestions; feel free to amend them as you see fit. Taking some of the tips further may be beneficial for your academic success. For example, #5 could lead you to just skip your exam! Remember, you won’t fail if you never try. Good luck everybody!