1. Start early. This week I had three midterm exams, seven quizzes, six chapters to read (each about 30 pages long!) and on top of that, I had to prepare to coach my hometown dance team at Nationals this past weekend. Welcome to college, right? There will be times when your exams and assignments may fall on the same week or maybe even the same day. My advice would be to start studying early! You will know when every exam is at the beginning of the semester so you will be able to plan it out ahead of time. Try to mix it up by studying for one class for an hour and then the other class for the next hour. Studying one subject for hours at a time doesn’t help as much!
2. Say “No”. You will be tempted to go out. Friends will ask you to go out with them this weekend or there may be an event with a group your involved in (for me, it was my sorority) but you have to try and refrain. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take breaks or become a hermit or something like that but if you do choose to go out, try to make it short (an hour or two). Trust me, there will be weekends when you’ll have nothing to do and you can go out then!
3. Again, take breaks! There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break from studying. If you feel like your brain is about to explode, take a quick walk or eat a snack. It’s kind of like hitting the refresh button on your Internet. Sometimes, you just need a break. I read somewhere that for every hour you study you should give yourself a 15-minute break. Powernap, ready, set, go!
4. Just breathe. Try your best not to stress too much because that will just make things worse. I almost had a meltdown this week but I found it really helpful to call my mom and just talk to her for a few minutes. She really calmed me down and settled my nerves. Also, writing down what you need to do before the test really helps as well. Seeing what you need to do visually can really help calm you down and you can check things off as you finish them as well. Most of all, just remember to breathe and that things will get better soon!
5. Learn. Like me, your test may not go the way you would have liked it to no matter how long you study. I took a practice test for my exam 100 times (this is no exaggeration… it was 103 actually.) I felt really good going into the test and when I was done, I wasn’t so sure anymore. However, there is nothing you can really do at that point. I got my score back and didn’t do as well as I had hoped. (So this is why this class is the 2nd most failed class offered here…) I was disappointed and at first, very angry. However, I decided that there was nothing I could do about it. I worked as hard as I could in order to prepare for it so I did the best I could. I chose to learn from my experiences and prepare to study differently for my next exam. Hopefully, I will do much better for the next one!
Good luck to everyone with exams soon or in the future! Just try to remember these tips and also, make your own. Some of these may not work for you and others may work great! You know your strengths so apply them to your work and you will do amazing things!
Ali Houser is a college freshman at The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota majoring in Dental Hygiene. Originally from Beresford, South Dakota, Ali was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of South Dakota for 2012. Learn more about Ali here!