College exams are a huge change from secondary school exams. The big difference is that it’s totally self-motivated. There are no constant reminders to study, no list of topics to learn and no set questions to prepare. It’s important to remember, though, that you’re not on your own. There are a ton of resources out there to help you! At the beginning of semester one I was so overwhelmed by all the hustle and bustle of assignments and exams. Everything was very up in the air and vague. However, I find that once you get organized and utilize the help that’s provided there for you, you’ll undoubtedly succeed. In this blog post I’ll be discussing my tips for managing the exam season and keeping on top of assignments!

Tip 1- Get a DiaryAn example of Bullet Journaling

This is so essential. As cliché as it sounds, an academic diary is the  perfect way to keep o top of exams, meetings or assignments. It doesn’t have to be expensive, something simple is just as good. I got one in my  university bookshop and it saves my life! I have in it my semester timetables, my to-do lists for each week, club and society events and anything else I need to remember. I bring it everywhere and it really saves the hassle of trying to remember everything. It’s the perfect space to jot down deadlines, set personal goals or make plans of how to tackle that dreaded assignment.

If you’re artistic, bullet journaling is a big trend at the moment. It involves getting a blank journal and designing it the way you like with colour and flair. I think it’s a really cool idea as you can lay out your diary the way you want to and only add the parts that you find useful. For example, if to-do lists work for you, you can draw up your own without the constraints of a shop-bought planner!

Food is good for a healthy mind

Tip 2- Eat well

Food fuels the brain and exam season is no exception. Its so important to eat well and make time to cook good quality food between study sessions at the library. Your diary is the perfect place to make basic food plans. Do your shopping at the beginning of the week with this plan in mind so when you are cooking there’s no excuse not to stick to the plan. You don’t have to be perfect, though, and it can be a good thing to treat yourself after a long day of studying. But its essential to eat brain foods to maximise productivity. Some of the best study snacks out there are blueberries, nuts, dark chocolate and oranges. Not only do they give you energy, but they are also known to improve memory and retention. A win-win!

A picture of someone taking notesTip 3- Take good notes in lectures and tutorials

This one sounds silly, but it’s so true. Taking decent, relevant notes at the beginning of the year helps so much in the long run. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to study a topic you were taught four months ago to find you have to start all over again because you have no notes and you haven’t a clue what it is about! Save yourself the extra stress at the end of the semester by putting the work in at the beginning. It will make life so much easier and every little helps!

Tip 4- Make a study group

Haven’t a clue where to start with your pending assignment? Chances are neither do a lot of people. Making a study group is a great way to share ideas and concepts and help each other out in a study environment. If your college library has group rooms that you can book, use them! It’s also an easy way to make friends in your course and get to know people outside your usual circle. It’s very productive and can be more effective than sitting at a desk for hours.

Alecturere talking to a student about something on their laptop screenTip 5- Ask your lecturers

It can be super daunting to ask your lecturer for help, especially if it is a big class. But they have so much knowledge and will only be too happy to help you. If it’s a question about structuring your essay or a topic you can’t understand for an exam, they can sometimes be the best people to go to because they’ll give you the most accurate information.

Tip 6- Do your research early

There’s nothing worse than getting to the library to take out your research book, only to find that someone else has got it and you can’t have it for another three weeks. Avoid the stress. If you know in advance what books you’re going to need, grab them as soon as you can. It simply means that you can get the information you need in advance and not worry about availability.

I hope that some of these tips have helped/will help you in your upcoming assignments or exams. Get plenty of sleep and take everything in bite-sized chunks. Best of luck to anyone doing exams!

Megan Dempsey