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19 May 2016, 11:41
Time to kick exam season's ass
Exam season is well and truly upon us. Test nightmare stories have begun their annual social media rounds and general fatigue is up 3,000%. We know you're just trying to make it through this exam season while simultaneously praying that summer will roll on. Luckily for you, we've got some sure fire ways to make it through this trying time without completely losing it.
This is especially important if you're taking an exam rather than turning in an essay or assignment. All nighters have all sorts of toxic effects on memory, retention, mood, motor skills and other vital functions. Staying up all night isn't an achievement. Utilizing your waking hours to study is far more effective than pulling an all nighter that might cause you to be less successful in studying or lose vital recharging time. Repeat after me: No. More. All. Nighters.
So, if you're a person, you definitely know how badly hunger can mess up your game. A lot of us, teenagers especially, tend to rush out of the door in the morning without eating anything. You can't run a car on zero fuel and you can't kick exam season's ass on an empty stomach. Try high fiber, low fat (fats can make your brain sluggish) meals with added fruits for an exam time diet hack. My ultimate exam time fave? Oatmeal. It's a slow burning carbohydrate guaranteed to keep you full and thinking clearly during those high pressure situations.
Not all test takers are created equally. Some of us are good at tests, some of us are bad. Some of us are visual learners and some of us learn best by hearing. One common denominator that affects how well you do on exams is the quality of your study schedule. So try this: Most of us can't simply read or work non-stop. We need breaks. Productivity app, DeskTime suggests working (or studying in this case) for 52 minute intervals followed by 17 minute breaks. That was a pattern that it found the most productive workers generally adhered to.
PRO TIP: One study found that "people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively [...] It's significant—it touches a number of cognitive domains." Why not eat some chocolate during your study break?
The best I ever did on a national exam was when I took the Advanced Placement European History test in the 10th grade. That year I made a thick deck of obnoxiously highlighted study cards that I took with me everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I read those cards in study hall, in the car, over dinner, in other classes, before bed, and in the mornings during breakfast. I passed that exam with the highest mark you could get from that examination board because I carried around these ridiculous cards everywhere I went for about a month. I could probably take that exam today (8 years on) and still do okay because of how committed I was to scoring well on that inconsequential exam. Not saying it's for everyone but don't be limited by the library quiet zone or the desk in your bedroom.
That's not advice, per se. But it's a gentle reminder that there will always be material you don't know, haven't studied, or weren't taught. It's the nature of the game. You simply cannot know everything. That being said, when you don't know the answer on an exam, let common sense kick in. There are plenty of ways to become a better exam guesser when it comes to preparing for things you don't know. Trust me, freaking out during the examination will only make things worse. Take a deep breath, read the question, pick an answer, and move on. You don't know what you don't know.
Header image via cafe-study.tumblr.com