Stressed Already? Here Are 8 Awesome Tips to Help You Smash Your Finals in the Pandemic

Student Life

Aren't ticking clocks and timed papers your best friend? And is the approaching exam season panicking you? Then, don't worry I've got you covered. In this article, I will be sharing with you 8 awesome tips that will surely help you ace your exams.

I know that at this unprecedented time, everyone is in a frenzy. Motivational levels are running low and the mounting exam tension is too much to bear. Most of you would be quarantined by yourself or with your family and honestly, summoning the energy to focus is really hard. Whether it be your naughty little sibling jumping up and down on your bed, your annoying teenage brother listening to Maroon 5 at full volume in the next room, your Mom laughing loudly on phone with your aunt or your Dad watching TV in the living room. I feel you! Being home-bound is a true nightmare, with all your focus and motivation thrown outside the window. You can't go to a library or coffee shop to study and studying at home is difficult. So what should you do?

1. Combat the Chaos

The first step to success is de-cluttering your workspace, that is, clearing your desk of useless stuff and organizing your files and notes into their respective subject folders. Doing this step is the most important of all as it sets you on the right track and gives you that pump of adrenaline that pushes you to be productive.

A clean study space

Secondly, empty your head space. With all that is going around you, your mind is in a chaotic state so it's easy to forget what is essential and waste time doing tasks that aren't of any importance. So, I'd say do what I call the 'Brain Dump', that is, write everything that needs to be done as a task and tick it off as you do it. Most people will call it 'the to-do list' but the only difference in my version is that you write every possible thing that you can think of doing that day, including mundane tasks like brushing your teeth or eating your lunch. This way all of your day is planned out in front of you and you don't find a way to procrastinate. You may even try planning out your week in advance if it works better for you, but I feel that since every week is virtually so unpredictable, it is of little value. Again, do what you feel best but try to keep yourself and your study space organized to maximize productivity.

2. Don't get sucked into the black hole That Is the Internet

When you are stuck inside, it's easy to waste time by scrolling through hours on Instagram and Facebook, watching hundreds of recommended videos in your YouTube inbox and searching your favourite winter coats on Zara. The accompanying guilt of getting nothing productive done is the worst of all. So, if you've already sunken so deep in the Internet black hole is it easy to get out? Simply put, it's difficult but you can start by either deactivating your accounts or deleting the apps until your exams are done. You'll first face some withdrawal symptoms but then, you'll get used to it.

Instead, I encourage that you use the internet for your benefit. Especially, if you are one of those students who haven't made any notes throughout the entire term and you are now in a state of shocked horror at seeing those unopened textbooks from the start of the term. So, instead of diving through your lengthy textbooks right now with barely weeks left in your exam, watch study videos that explain the same topic within half an hour. Not only is this an efficient use of time but it minimizes stress as well. I recommend that you watch Khan Academy and Crash Course's videos if you are in a rush. Or just search up randomly and click on the first result that turns up.

3. Watch the clock

Time management is key! So, plan out your study sessions in advance. Prioritize every study task you have written in your to-do list for the day and schedule it in your study timetable. Allot it a specific time interval in your day if you feel confident in accomplishing tasks in time restrictions or if you like a more flexible schedule then just assign it the time of the day you are most likely to do it. This helps you to settle into a study routine and helps fight off procrastination. Also, it avoids stretching out the tasks all day.

Also, try to take breaks between study sessions as our attention span is limited. Start with 20 minutes long sessions using the Pomodoro technique then gradually move on to 45 minute-long study sessions with 5 to 10 minutes gap in between as your attention span increases. This helps to retain your productivity levels during the day.

4. A Healthy body means a healthy mind

Don't overwork yourself. While exams are meant to test you, they aren't a measure of your intelligence and capability. Moreover, the examiners will make the exam papers keeping in mind the circumstances enveloping the country. They will factor in the disruption of your studies due to the pandemic so the exams will be of a difficulty level that can be attempted by all. So, take a day off when you need to. Prioritize your health by exercising regularly and eating healthy and take time for self-reflection and self-growth. Reward yourself once you complete your day's tasks by doing anything you like whether it be watching a movie or reading a book. Just anything to relax after a study day.

Also, if you are struggling with your mental health during this time, then, I suggest that you keep a diary to pen down all your negative thoughts or talk to your family for support.

5. Understand That Everybody has a different recipe for success

Everyone learns differently. Some people find that mnemonics and acronyms are the best way to memorize information as their brains can easily absorb the weird word combinations. Others find that timed past paper practice is very effective for them as it increases their writing speed and improves their flow of ideas. Yet others feel that making mind maps and essay plans for essay-based subjects and memorizing them helps them to organize their ideas. In fact, there are many types of learners out there: some learn by writing down information, some learn visually by drawing out diagrams and even, some learn by recording their voice and hearing it loud! So, it's up to you to experiment and work out which method works best for you. You still have plenty of time and discovering which type of learner you are can help a great deal in reducing the time you spent on memorizing the huge chunks of information.

You can even try working in virtual study groups over Zoom with people having similar interests as you. This way you can learn by teaching them stuff they don't know and clear your confusions by discussing with them. Just make sure you stay on topic and don't end up talking about the latest web series on Netflix.

6. figure out if you are a night owl or an early morning bird

There are different hours at which different people have maximum productivity levels. Some can get all their work done in the early hours of the morning and some tend to work very late at night. So, when are you the most productive? Just ask yourself that same question and arrange your study sessions accordingly. Trust me you'll get a lot more done if you figure this out.

7. give yourself a change of scenery

Although due to the pandemic most people are restricted at home, however, you can still change your study space often, even when you are inside. Just go and sit in your garden or on the balcony or even exchange rooms with your siblings for an hour or two if you really feel demotivated by sitting in the same place for so long. Changing locations is proven to improve your focus, especially if your chosen study space has many windows which let lots of natural light in and keep noise out.

8. Prioritize the hardest tasks first

Our energy tends to decline during the day and so does our motivation. So, the best way to deal with it is to do the hardest tasks first, whether it be writing an essay you've been putting off for days or a chapter you need to read and understand but you can't be bothered to do so. Just try to gain the willpower to do those arduous tasks when you have the most motivation and the rest of the smaller tasks will become easier and more do-able.

It always gets difficult when it nears exam season with peer pressure and fear of failure increasing anxiety and ruling out the possibility of doing anything other than studying for the exams. Also, many gloomy thoughts creep up frequently to bring you down. So, if you stuck with me till the end, here's a friend's advice to a friend: You are wonderful. You can do it. If you believe in yourself then anything and everything is possible. So, shush up your pessimistic side of the brain and start working towards your goals. Surely, your hard work will pay off.

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Aiman Anwar

Aiman Anwar is currently an A'Levels student residing in Pakistan. She is studying sciences but her passion lies in writing. She also enjoys photography, reading mystery novels and spending time with friends and family. She also owns a small stationery business on Instagram called Spill The Paint.