Studying for Success: OVS Tips for Exam Prep

Summer is just around the corner, but first, the dreaded exam season must be tackled! Here are some quick tips to help you study for success.


Make sure you know what you’re in for

Ask your teacher what format the exam is going to take, and how the sections are going to be weighted. After all, studying for multiple choice looks very different from studying for long answer response! Also, knowing what to expect come exam day can go a long way towards alleviating test anxiety.

Get organized

Make sure you have all the notes and study materials you need for each exam you’re taking. If you missed a lesson, hit up a friend for their notes or ask your teacher to go over the material with you after hours. Organize your notes by subject and by unit, taking care to exclude anything that your teacher may have guaranteed won’t be tested (don’t waste your precious time studying something if you know you won’t need it for the exam!)

Prioritize your exams

Sure, you might be making studying, in general, a priority this time of year, but it’s also important to prioritize your various exams. Some will be more difficult than others, some you might already feel prepared for, and some may be worth far more than others. While you’ll want to schedule time to study for all of your exams, the amount of study time each exam requires does not necessarily have to be the same. Be sure to evaluate all of your exams according to the following factors prior to creating your study schedule: a) your existing comfort level with the course content, b) the weight of the exam, c) your current standing in the course, and d) when the exam is taking place.

Break it up (or at least take regular breaks)

Exam season is essentially synonymous with all-nighters and intense cram sessions for many (ok, most) students. Regardless of how well you feel this kind of studying works for you, the facts state that breaking your studying up over time (read: nights slept) helps give your brain time to process the material you’re studying. If that ship has already sailed, or you simply know no alternative to the cram sesh, be sure to at least take frequent study breaks to help keep your mind focused. Stand up and stretch, grab a glass of water and a nutritious snack, play with your pet, reassure your family you’re still alive, then head back to hit the books some more. A few active minutes every hour can go a long way!

Teach someone

Whether or not a study group is going to work for you is largely dependent on you and your learning style. But one thing is for sure: the act of teaching intrinsically reinforces the act of learning. Basically, you can learn by teaching someone, so pick a partner and teach them the toughest concept on your study guide! And really, for the purposes of solidifying your own learning, that someone doesn’t even have to even be there! The simple act of explaining a concept out loud, just as you would to another person, can help you identify holes in your knowledge and, in doing so, can help you achieve a more thorough understanding of an idea (just make sure no one else is around to hear you talking to yourself!)

Quiz yourself

Brainstorm potential questions you think might show up on the exam and practice answering them. Better yet, create a group chat with some of your peers so you can get questions you might not have even thought about preparing to answer! Doing this will help you familiarize yourself with the kind of content you’ll be expected to produce on the exam and can also be a great tool to help you hone in on what to study in the final days (or hours) leading up to the exam itself.

Take it one step further and host a mock test!

If you are susceptible to ‘blanking out’ in a test environment, mock tests can be super helpful. See if your classmates would also be interested in taking an old practice test with you, and enlist a parent or older sibling to act as an ‘invigilator’ to keep everyone quiet and within the time limits. Putting yourself through a mock-run can help put anxiety in its place and allow you to work on your timing strategy before the real deal!

Make time to socialize or just ~ do you ~ at least a few times a week

If your plan is to spend every waking minute in June (and even those when you should be sleeping) studying, you’re not planning for success – you’re planning for stress! Don’t overload your PVR with shows you’re not watching, and don’t feel you need to leave all your group chats. Plan your time to create balance between studying and socializing. The emphasis may go to the first, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate the second. And, believe it or not, it will actually work in your favour when you go back to hit the books refreshed and energized from some time away (having fun!).

And finally, … FOCUS!

We’ve saved the best for last. The biggest tip for succeeding this finals season may seem simple, but in actuality, it’s the most difficult thing to do this time of year! The promise of summer and moving up in the world looms large right now, and that’s enough to cloud anyone’s focus. So, even if your friends are finishing their exams earlier than you, fight to keep your focus until your race is over too!