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The end is closer than it seems (the end of the semester, that is)

By Anna Farronato, 3rd-year Concurrent Education – Environmental Sciences student

The end is closer than it seems… the end of the semester, that is. As midterms come to end, I’m sure many of you have thought, “Wow that went by fast!” That thought has certainly crossed my mind. And now that we are approaching week 9, it is time to start thinking ahead. What could approach even faster than midterms you may ask? FINAL EXAMS!

The last day of classes is December 4th and exams begin on the 9th, which may seem like a long time from now; however, it is only a month away! Now is the perfect time to start thinking about preparing for the end of the semester.

One of the most important things to ask yourself is, “Am I keeping up with my courses?” It is not uncommon to fall behind this time of year, as you’ll often find yourself prioritizing midterms and assignments over readings and note making when managing your time. Getting back on track might seem difficult, but it is one of the best things you can do to avoid cramming come exam time. Learning Strategies offers many tips on how to use your time effectively and efficiently.


One of my favourite strategies is drafting a weekly schedule. If you haven’t done so already, this would be a great time to try it out! If you would like to take scheduling one step further, try making daily to do lists to keep track of day to day tasks, as well as a monthly calendar to keep track of important upcoming due dates. This should help give you a clear visual representation of how much you have on your plate and allow you to prepare ahead of time.  From here, you can start scheduling in time to catch up and complete missed readings, notes, etc.


Now that you’ve got your schedules completed, the real work begins. Getting the motivation to do readings and note making can sometimes be difficult. It is important to set realistic goals and prioritize your time appropriately. One great tip I like to use is “kick starting” my work by using the 5-more rule. This means committing to 5 minutes, or 5 pages of reading, or 5 sentences to write — a small, manageable goal that you can finish relatively quickly and celebrate its completion. That may give you that motivational jumpstart to continue on with the task. Forming study groups (with motivated peers) is also great way to motivate yourself to get work done.


If you’re finding that distractions are a problem, try working in a quiet place, turn off your technology, and use the 50/10 rule. That means studying for 50 minutes, then taking a 10 minute break, in order to maximize your attention span. Try to vary the courses you are reading and making notes for by breaking up your time with each course and avoiding studying one subject for too long. You can also break up large projects into manageable sections and schedule your most challenging work during the times of the day when you work best.

Lastly, remember to reward yourself. I often like to reward myself after completing a successful day’s work with hanging out with friends, getting Cogro cake, or best of all… SLEEP!

These are just some of many great tips that Learning Strategies has to offer to help you get back on track with your courses. You can visit the Strategies and Tools page to find more helpful tips and tricks on exam preparation, stress and coping strategies, motivation and concentration, and much more!

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Canup under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.