With midterms coming up, it’s easy for university students, especially first years, to feel in over their heads. Deadlines come faster than planned and it feels like everything is happening at once. Over my last few years as a university student, I have dealt with exam stress, and it has taken me until my third year to feel like I have everything under control. If I had known how to manage exam stress earlier in my exam career, I would have been more successful, gotten better grades, and my mental health would be in a much better state.
The best way to make yourself feel better about upcoming exams is to be aware of what is expected of you. Asking your teachers where they get the exam questions, knowing what material to study, and knowing how you will be graded can make you feel more sure about what you have learned and what you need to know. Checking the syllabus and being aware of what you should have learned before the exam ensures that when you get to the exam, there will be no surprises. Teachers are there to make sure you will be successful, and speaking to your professor for even five minutes can take a lot of stress off your mind.
Studying becomes much less daunting when you know what you need to study. Whether it be reading slides, reading the text, or writing down notes in class, having all of the information you need to be successful will ease your mind. After asking the teacher about where the exam questions come from, you should have an easier time knowing what information to study. I’ve also found it helpful to copy notes down in my own handwriting, even though it’s extra effort, because then I can make sure I’ve seen all of the information at least once. Knowing your learning style makes it easier to know how you need to study.
I’m great at procrastinating, which, unfortunately, is not a good quality. Many of my classmates have this in common with me. We are at the point in the semester where it is difficult to put off studying for exams any longer, and it’s a good idea to be aware of that now. Taking the steps towards being prepared for exams now, such as speaking to your professors and writing out your notes, will make you feel more prepared when you are getting close to the deadline of the exam. If you ask the professors about what is going to be on the exam a week before the date, they will see that you’re prepared and be more willing to help you. Waiting until the day before the exam will only prove you haven’t started studying yet. Writing out clear notes on what needs to be studied a week before the exam will make sure you have a good, clear study guide to go over; whereas writing out all of your notes the day before the exam will make you feel hopeless. Knowing that these deadlines are approaching and getting motivated early will help to make sure that you don’t stress too much when the test is tomorrow.
Unfortunately, no matter what, while we are in university, midterms and deadlines will be a part of our lives. Luckily, we are still at the point in the semester where we can get motivated and make midterm week a little less stressful. Remembering all of the information from the first half of the semester becomes much easier when you know what you’re supposed to be studying in the first place. If I had known in my first year that I could ask my professors to clarify exactly what was being asked of me, I may have had an easier time and improved my GPA. On the day of the exam remember to have a good breakfast, go over your notes and take a deep breath. Our teachers are not against us, our courses are not impossible and we have all of the information and resources we need to make it through these exams.