Blogmas 2018 Day Eleven: Tips for Exam Prep During the Holidays

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I think perhaps one of the cruellest things that they do in uni is scheduling the final exam period during the Christmas holidays. How am I supposed to focus on studying when I’ve got Christmas goodies to bake and things to decorate and presents to buy?! It’s really been a challenge during my couple years of uni thus far. Like most people, I already find it difficult enough to study for exams in the first place. I have a really tough time getting myself to hunker down and focus when I could be doing so many other things!! But in the December exam period, it’s nearly downright impossible for me to be motivated to study.

This year, exams are particularly stressful as my only two formal exams are scheduled for the 19th and 20th of December… Literally the last two days of the exam period. W H Y. How is anyone meant to focus on Jane Austen when it’s so close to Christmas?!

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks for getting myself motivated whilst all the Christmas excitement and I thought I’d share them all with you, so you guys don’t have to suffer either!

~PLAN AHEAD~

There’s nothing worse than getting caught a couple of days before your exam with nothing prepared and no sense of what you’re getting yourself into to. A few weeks before your exam, start to mentally set out a schedule or a plan for what you what you’d like to accomplish, and on what timeline. This way, you can hold yourself to studying better and not get as easily distracted from your goal.

~SET ASIDE TIME EVERY DAY~

I know how easy it is to say “it’s cool, I’ll just do some studying later this week” and how quickly that turns into “oh shit, my exam is in two days and I haven’t even looked at my notes.” Trust me. We’ve all been there. And with all the Christmas festivities to get wrapped up into at this time of the year, it’s even easier to procrastinate studying. Getting an hour or two in of studying for each subject every day is a really easy way to stay up-to-date with your revision while still getting time to do all the fun stuff. And as you get closer to your exam, start increasing your daily studying by an hour. It does wonders, honestly.

~FESTIVE ENCOURAGEMENT~

Yeah, that’s right. I’m about to tell you to bribe yourself to do work. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, am I right? If the only way that you can get yourself to revise your History notes is by tempting yourself with a Christmas film once you’ve finished, then do it. No judgment here. Once you’ve done your studying, does it really matter how you got there? Not really. Just matters that you’ve done it. Sometimes I’ll tell myself that if I finish my revision, I’ll treat myself to a Starbucks Holiday drink. And guess what? It motivates the hell outta me.

~DAMAGE CONTROL~

If you’ve just spent the past two days decorating your house or going out to do some Christmas shopping, and you know that you’ve neglected your school work, then you’ve gotta go right back to studying. Immediately. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in constantly having fun during the holidays. I know how tempting it can be, but honestly, Christmas will still be there when you’ve finished your exams.

~DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP~

This was a lesson that took me years to learn on my own so here I am, passing this onto you now: please ask for help if you need it. I always use to think that I had to figure things out on my own and suffer in silence. But taking a year off of school made me realize that that’s absolutely not the case whatsoever. There are so many people out there who are more than happy to lend a hand if you need it. If you’re feeling stressed during the holidays, talk to a friend, or a family member, or a counsellor at your school. And if you need help studying, reach out to a classmate or a friend. I’m the kind of person who usually needs to be tested on the information in order to fully understand it. If you’re that kind of person as well, don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you! Honestly, you’ll feel so much better getting that assistance that you need and it’ll drastically improve your grade overall.

What really helps you focus during the holidays?

Felicia x

To view a list of my other Blogmas posts, click here.


How To Prepare For A New School Year

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Ahh, August. The bittersweet month. Those final hazy days of summer. Am I depressing you? Sorry! Although August is a great month - it is my birthday month, after all - it is also, unfortunately, the last portion of summer holiday. Which means school is right around the corner. And although a lot of us may be squeezing our eyes shut and plugging our ears and going "la-la-la-la-la" (I know I am), it's the truth.

With school coming up, it's time to start thinking about preparing for the start of term. Getting your ducks in a row before the first day of school does wonders for your productivity when classes actually start. I'm sure you'd rather not be racing around campus, trying to figure out where your classes are whilst also tracking down your textbooks and buying school supplies. The thought is cringe-worthy haha. So, here are my tips of things to do to prepare for a new term!

GET A BINDER

When I got into university, I had this preconceived notion that binders were a 'high school thing'. There was no use buying one for university because when would I use it? It's not like you cart around loose sheets of paper from lecture-to-lecture. But the fact is, binders are useful for far more than just transportation. I like to buy a binder that I leave at my desk for holding any paper I deem important that I can't bear to lose and any marked papers that are returned to me. Oh, and by the way, professors like to throw a curveball and hand out loose papers all the time. It's nice to have someplace for those papers to go once you get home.

PRINT OUT YOUR SYLLABI

This is something I've learned to do over the years. I'm so grateful that I learned this. Picture this. You're putting the final details on your paper, the night before it's due. You can't remember if your professor likes your citations in APA or MLA format. You go online to check your syllabus and - oh wait, the site is down. Having a physical copy of your syllabus can't hurt. Pop that bad boy into a plastic page protector and put it in your binder (ah, see, I told you a binder would come in handy!). Now you can refer to it whenever you need and even make notes on the page, if need be. 

BUY A PLANNER - AND USE IT

Yes, the dreaded planner. It seems these little books are cursed for uni students. You buy one with high expectations of keeping up-to-date with marking all your assignments and exams, and it all comes crashing down about a month or even a week into classes. But I'm here to tell you that, yes, the planner does wonders! It's not an evil burden! I promise you. If you already have your syllabus, go ahead and fill in all the important dates in your planner. That way, you won't have to worry about it later. Make a vow to yourself that you will keep up with your planner. Honestly, this did me a world of good when I started university and even helped my very reluctant boyfriend last year. 

WRITE OUT YOUR CLASS TIMETABLE

There's a bunch of different ways that you can do this, or you could even use a combo of a few methods. The point is that you have a layout of it somewhere in front of you. You could write it down in your bullet journal, or put it in your planner. You could use a calendar app, like Google Calendar, which lets you colour-code your different classes. Or go old-fashioned and write it down on paper - there are a bunch of weekly schedule templates you can print off the Internet that will spruce up your timetable. Having your timetable easily accessible is super important, especially at the beginning of the new term when you're still getting used to all your new classes. I like to write out my class, the room number, the time, and the name of the professor. 

GET YOURSELF ON A ROUTINE

Summer ruins routines for everyone. It's inevitable. If you're anything like me, you probably spent your summer going to sleep at 3am and waking up at 11am. Obviously, that isn't going to work during the school year. So the couple weeks before school starts, it's a good idea to start getting yourself onto a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every single day. This is so important. You don't want to keep your crappy sleep schedule right up until the day before term starts. Take my word for it. 

GO BUY YOUR SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Stationary shopping is my favourite part of the new school term. Nerd alert, right? I just find that note-making and studying is so much better if you have cute notebooks and pens to use! Honestly, I don't like to splurge too much on my school supplies, although I know a lot of people like to spend a pretty penny on their utensils and notebooks, etc. I find that I go through school supplies super fast so it's not totally worth it to spend $20+ on items that you can find for $5 elsewhere. Walmart has some incredible sales for school supplies in the weeks leading up to the school term. I always go on a huge school supply shopping spree about a month before term begins, as I'm in the US where they have really inexpensive school supplies in early August (as that's when students go back here). Maybe I'll post a school supply haul blog sometime?


That's about all for now! Hope you guys are enjoying your last bit of summer. 

What do you do to prepare for a new school year?

Felicia x