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Stressing Over Final Exams? You Won’t Be After Reading This

Stressing Over Final Exams? You Won’t Be After Reading This

Ahh, finals, the doomsday of every student! Chances are you’re currently reading this while hoping for the best but preparing (hopefully by studying) for the worst. It doesn’t have to be that way. Finals aren’t the end of the world; they mark the end of the semester — the final push before a well-deserved vacation. It’s indeed a stressful time, as you must go through a lot of material. However, you may also feel anxious if you don’t have the right tools to tackle your exams. Here are three studying habits and techniques you must adopt to nail your final exams.

Study properly according to your class

There are two type of classes in university: technical classes and non-technical classes. You must recognize the category in which each of your classes fall and adopt the appropriate study methods.

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Non-Technical Classes

Largely reading-based, these are classes that involve little or no mathematics. They’re heavy on essays and discussions about theories or concepts. English literature, psychology, and political science are few examples. If one of your classes falls in this category, here’s how you should prepare for your final:

  • Create a bank of questions that are most likely on your exam and challenge yourself to answer them with flashcards.
  • Make a quick summary of the readings that are on your exam and compare them with your class notes.
  • Have a discussion about the various concepts and theories you need to know with classmates and people unfamiliar with the subject.

Technical Classes

Math-based, these classes involve the application of theories and concepts through exercises. On a weekly basis, you most likely get exercises from your professor, online, or through assignments. Economics, applied mathematics, and finance fall under this category. If this sounds like one of the classes you’ve had this semester, here’s how to study properly for the final:

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  • Ditch note-reading and focus on doing exercises.
  • Collect every assignment and piece of homework given by your teacher that is relevant to your exam and complete them all. Make sure you can do them without your notes.
  • Have conversations with friends to test if you understand the concepts and theories and can interpret the results you get in your exercises.

Choose the appropriate study location

The environment you’re studying in makes a big difference to how well you study and ultimately perform on your final. Chances are your main location is your school library or a coffee shop, but these might not be optimal spots for you. Here are a few pointers on how to choose the right study spot:

  • Study in the library in the silent section if you’re sensitive to noise and if you’re easily distracted. This works well if you have a short attention span.
  • Have your study sessions in the area of the library where talking is allowed if you can study well despite ambient noise. This allows you to work in teams and consult classmates if you need help. It works well if you have a long attention span and can control urges to procrastinate.
  • Study in a coffee shop with a lot of natural light and beautiful scenery. This can positively affect your mood and increase your motivation to study. This works well if you’re sensitive to your environment and if the amount of lighting is important for you.
  • Study outside! A beautiful landscape is a great motivation booster. This works well if you don’t mind the ambient noise, regardless of your attention span.

How to study efficiently for a long period of time

Finals mean crunch time. Whether you’ve been up-to-date or behind during the semester, you still have the feeling that you need to put in more hours in order to nail your finals — and you’re right. It is necessary to dedicate more time to reviewing your course materials and ensuring that you understand them completely.

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If you’re a student, just like me, you know that there are two ways of doing this. You can either put in an insane amount of hours that are inefficient, or you can adopt smart studying techniques to make the best of your time. If you feel like the former applies to you and you’re about to step into the library with the goal of spending the next 12 hours studying, follow these few steps:

  • For every 60 minutes of study, take a 15-minute break. This allows you to recover and increase your long-term concentration.
  • Frequently change tasks; don’t study the same material for hours. Boredom is a killer, so make sure to stimulate your brain by covering various classes on the same day.
  • Tag along with classmates to have some assistance when needed. They will also give you some extra motivation!
  • Bring only the essential materials you need. Leave any electronic devices at home if you know they frequently distract you.

The end of the semester always requires more energy, and it’s not easy — no one said that it would be. But you can make it easier by adopting the right attitude, habits, and techniques. Allow yourself to make mistakes and always push yourself further. Like anything worth learning in this world, this is a process that you must go through to attain the grades that you deserve!

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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