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  • Writer's pictureAsha Saha

An English Student’s Guide to Rocking Exam Season

You did it! Whether you’re a first-year who’s just beginning your degree or an upper-year who’s finishing up, you completed a whole year at Western, and that’s a big accomplishment! You should all be very proud of yourselves.

That being said, many of us aren’t at the finish line yet. If you’re like me, you don’t quite feel ready to celebrate yet because you’re still busy tackling the biggest beast of the school year: exams. Ah, exams. Those pesky, three-hour trips into the pits of Hell. Just kidding! For us English students, exams can definitely suck, but they’re also something you can rock if you just take a few steps to prepare for them. And fret not! That’s what I have for you today! A trusty guide to crushing your exams. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Tip 1: Take a breath!

Before you get into studying, take a day or two to relax (if your schedule will let you). You just finished a whole term of classes, and probably just submitted a fleet of final essays and assignments. Your mind is probably a jumbled mess, which is why it’s important to take your mind off school and give yourself a chance to relax before you get into your studies. If you don’t really have time for a few days off, just take a few hours! Listen to some calming music, go out with your friends, or take advantage of this good weather and go read a book in the park. Even if you only have a few hours, clearing your mind before you get into your exam prep will contribute to your success.

Tip 2: Make a plan

It’s always best to start with a clear plan of what your study time is going to look like. Are you going to focus on one exam at a time to concentrate on a particular topic, or switch between a few to bring more variety to your study sessions? Both strategies are great, you just need to decide which one you’re going to go with so you know how to budget your time. Unfortunately, we don’t get infinite time to study, so you’re going to have to figure out how exactly you’ll get it all in. It helps if you have a planning tool or calendar to organize with. Some of my favorites are Google Calendar and Notion!

Tip 3: Figure out what needs to get done

Personally, I get super overwhelmed thinking about all the content I need to study. It helps me immensely to open up a notebook or my computer’s Notes app and make a list of all the readings, topics, and definitions that might be needed for my exam. With all of it written in a list, I can cross off items once I’ve studied them and get a visual sense of how I’m doing. It also helps me plan out my study days, since I can group relevant study areas together.

Tip 4: Get together with a group

I love to study with a group! Even if we’re just silently sitting together and doing our own work, it’s great for your morale to be working together with others. When they’re being productive, you feel like you need to be working too, so you’re less likely to go on your phone or get distracted. Additionally, explaining ideas and terms to someone else is a great way to make sure that you understand them, so if you have friends who are studying for the same exam as you, that’s even better! When you’re teaching things to someone else, both of you benefit. And when you want a break, your friends are there to talk! Just make sure you’re not taking too many breaks together ;)

Tip 5: Do some re-reading

Obviously, you won’t have time to re-read every single text your course covered. There’s no question that we’ve read a crazy amount of material this year – we’re English students! However, doing as much re-reading or skimming as you possibly can will help you immensely. This will help you draw on specific details in your exam answers, which will demonstrate that you’re familiar with the material.

Tip 6: Look for those key connections

When you’re reviewing texts, don’t study them in a vacuum! Always be thinking about how the themes and key ideas you’re seeing in one text can be connected to or contrasted with the themes and ideas of other texts. Odds are that one or more of your exam questions will ask you to compare and contrast, so this kind of studying is essential.

Tip 7: Don’t forget to take care of yourself

This is going to be a busy month for many of us, so I want to take this time to remind you to keep looking after yourself and your wellbeing! Take breaks, drink water, make sure you’re eating enough, get outside, and check on your friends. Keep supporting yourself and those around you!

These are just a few tips I wanted to share. With these tools, you can prepare for, plan, and execute super successful study sessions. If you have more tips, let me know in the comments. I have faith in you all and know that you’re going to rock exam season. Happy studying!

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