It’s the season for exams, research projects and comps! This can be stressful for all students–I know, for me, I can always think of one more thing (at least) that I could’ve/should’ve done to better prepare.
Having a plan, familiarizing yourself with available resources, understanding your final schedule and being able to use the tools available most effectively is critical! This is especially true for those of us who must maximize every second available. This article is dedicated to those three things: planning, resources and effectively using tools.
Proper planning often means the difference between acing an exam/final project and getting a less than desirable grade to add to your transcript. There are some proven methods that you can easily use to help insure that you maximize your time, minimize stress, and achieve the grade you want.
1. Save your sources! We have all been researching something and thought, “that’s a great article, but not for this paper.” Save it! It will in turn save you so much time later! You can do this by creating a digital library/database of your favorite articles through citeyoulike or iCyte. If decide to do this in a word doc that you can save to your desktop, you may enjoy looking at some examples at http://libguides.wku.edu/stylewrite. Just remember, if you’re doing it for personal use, you don’t have to concern yourself with creating a perfect document. The idea is to create a reference tool for yourself that will save you time on future projects.
2. Don’t wait until the last minute! Work on your project(s) and/or study for your exam(s) in chunks. This may sound idealistic, but it’s actually quite doable, even with all of life’s other obligations. “Time-chunking” may mean that you set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal or use your 15 minute break at work to study or find peer reviewed journals for your project. While that doesn’t sound all that appealing on the surface, the rewards reaped are great! You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish! In fact, this strategy is more effective for long-term retention of material!
3. Take time to breathe, literally! Research has shown that cardio boosts brain power and improves your memory! It also minimizes stress and increases your energy, allowing you to achieve more with less time!
4. The old adage goes, “you are what you eat” and this carries greater truth than we originally thought. Yes, eating before you sit down to finalize your paper or take your exam is important, but what you eat is also extremely important. You will want to focus on brain-boosting foods and drinks; not brain-blocking. Research suggests that high-carb, high-fiber, slow-digesting foods like oatmeal are best. Learn more about the impact of nutrition on performance at http://www.goodluckexams.com/what-to-eat-before-an-exam/ and http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/6/1086.full.
5. Practice good time management: It’s no secret that when we procrastinate we feel a great deal of pressure and anxiety. Our performance is negatively impacted anytime we’re pressed for time, whether it’s studying for an exam or finalizing our research paper. Much of the pressure and anxiety that comes with procrastination can be easily avoided with proper planning, organization and realistic expectations. The one strategy that has helped me most as a student/wife/mom/full-time employee/cub scout leader 🙂 is having all of my due dates available at a glance. Each semester I take a few extra minutes to print each syllabus and add due dates to my main calendar. This keeps me on track and helps me keep my school work on the “front burner.”