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Top Tips for Surviving the 2024 Exam Season

Student Life

Wed, March 13

If you're in high school, you probably have exams coming up this spring. Whether it is AP, IB, or end of the year finals, these exams can be super stressful, and you have to know a whole years worth of information. However, if you prepare early these can be a good component of your college applications and GPA.

Besides, who doesn't love the feeling of opening Canvas and seeing an A on their screen? Here are the top tips for surviving the 2024 exam season and making sure that you do your best.

Prepare Early

This step is the most important, because you don't want to end up trying to study all of your U.S. history or biology notes the day before your exam. One thing that you can do to help yourself prepare early is to make a schedule to ensure that you are staying on track and preparing early. You can plan out how much time you will have each day, based on the deadlines for your classes.

Then, you can cover one unit a day, or every other day, depending on how many exams you have. I would suggest starting with the most recent units you have covered and working backwards, so that way the older material is fresh in your memory, along with the newer units. When I have finals at the end of the year, I always make a schedule so that I know I can use my time well. Use whatever method works for you, but make sure you're starting early!

a person holding a pen and writing on a calendar
Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Monika Grabowska from Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/photos/a-person-holding-a-pen-and-writing-on-a-calendar-8LvHpjYA0IA

Make a To-Do List

The best way of keeping yourself organized is to make a to-do list. You can make one for each day, week, or even subject. This will help you to stay on track with your studying and will make sure that you aren't studying the wrong topics.

Last year before my math final, I forgot that the final was only on the second half of the year, and I spent a ton of time working on the early units. This was not good at all, because I wasted time on these units that weren't going to be on the test. So, I recommend making checklists for every subject so that you can stay organized and make the most of your time.

Take Breaks

It is so easy to burn out when you're trying to study for exams. Taking breaks will help you focus better, because after a run or an episode of your favorite TV show, you'll be ready to sit back down at your desk and knock out another subject. These breaks will improve your focus because you won't get overwhelmed by studying science, language, and history in one sitting.

It will also help you remember better because your brain won't be exhausted by the time you get to the third subject. Breaks are also pretty fun, and can give you the study break that you need. You could exercise, watch a show, go out with friends and family, or even go shopping! Just be sure to do what relaxes you.

person holding remote pointing at TV
Photo by freestocks from Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/photos/person-holding-remote-pointing-at-tv-11SgH7U6TmI

Prioritize Your Health

We've all had a period of time where we aren't sleeping and rotting at a desk for hours a day because our exams are coming up. However, this approach actually won't help you do better on your exams. When you sleep for eight hours, your brain has time to process all of the information from your day, which includes your studying.

If you are only sleeping for three or four hours, your brain doesn't get to this stage, and you end up forgetting it all. Also, if you have more sleep, you will not be exhausted during your test. You also need to be eating good food, like proteins and vegetables. If you eat the right foods, your body will feel better in the long run, and during your exam. Finally, if you spend one of your breaks exercising, you will improve your ability to do everyday activities, like studying for your exams. Prioritizing your health will help you on exam day, and in the long run.

Reach Out to Your Teachers

When you're reviewing, there's probably going to be a topic that you're struggling with, or don't remember at all. Instead of brushing it aside and pretending like it won't be on the exam, or spending days trying to figure it out, you can reach out to your teachers. Your teachers want to see you succeed, and will be happy to help if you reach out and ask to review the subject with them or want extra practice.

Even though it might make you nervous, or you think that they might judge you for not remembering, it is better to know what you're doing than see it on the exam and panic. Teachers have also been through school, so they know how tough it is sometimes, and they want to help. They are a resource, so make sure to take advantage of that! person holding pencil near laptop computer

Photo by Scott Graham from Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/photos/person-holding-pencil-near-laptop-computer-5fNmWej4tAA

Keep these tips in mind during exam season this year! If you prepare early, take care of yourself, and reach out to your teachers, you will be able to do your best on these tests. Even if you don't do well, it's not the end of the world because you did your best.

No matter how you do, you ended up improving your study skills and time management in the end, which will help you in college and beyond. Good luck this season!

Ava Jankowski
1,000+ pageviews

Writer since Aug, 2023 · 15 published articles

Ava Jankowski is a junior at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. She enjoys writing, traveling, shopping, mock trial, and playing tennis. She is excited for any learning opportunities possible. Ava will attend The School of the New York Times Summer Academy this July.