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Pre-midterm pick-me-ups!

By Tamar Ailenberg, 4th-year Biology/Psychology SSP

Forget about combating the exam blues, instead, be proactive and prepare for them!

 #1– Avoid the Mid-October Pile-up

It’s never too early or too late to schedule. Scheduling helps students organize their seemingly overwhelming workload. What’s more is it helps you realistically assess what you have to do and how much time you have to do it in. For tips on creating Monthly, Weekly, or Daily Schedules please visit our online time management resources. Monthly schedules give you a bird’s eye view of commitments (your best friend’s birthday, that volunteer thing you can’t miss), midterms, quizzes, and due dates. Weekly schedules are a great tool to roughly plan out your days, prep work and readings, while daily schedules can help you get your errands done and stay on task while you’re doing homework.

 #2 – Get an Incentive

If your love of learning isn’t enough to motivate you, look for another incentive to complete your reading or studying those last few chapters. Here are some ways that can be accomplished:

  1. Set macro-rewards. After reading X number of chapters in the History of Ancient Greece and completing that really challenging Physics assignment, reward yourself by leaving the library and taking the night off from studying. This is a macro reward, since you’re giving yourself a BIG reward after a LARGE amount of work. But, if you’re like me, you don’t have the attention span to last that long. Instead, setting micro rewards may be more helpful in motivating you to complete your work – little rewards to keep you going during you work session.
  2. Set micro-rewards for finishing a few pages or questions. Have you ever had a day where you’re finding it hard to stay on track but easy to lose focus? I know I have. Whenever I feel blah before a study session I’ll buy a coffee and sit it on my desk. Every few pages I’ll take a sip as a reward for staying in the library and working towards the larger goal of finishing the chapter. Bonus: There’s an added incentive to finish readings before the drink acclimates to room temperature. However, this technique works with snacks too – like M&M’s and carrots!
  3. Have a friend put post-it notes in your textbook with encouraging messages or funny jokes. You’ll want to get through your readings to find those hidden treasures! Bonus: Post one sticky note with a joke on it and the answer to the joke a few pages later. Here’s one to get the ball rolling (answer at the end of the blog!)

Question: Why did the scientist go to the tanning salon?

#3 – Have a Change of Pace

When studying becomes monotonous, change your method of studying or switch subjects! If highlighting and note-taking isn’t doing the trick, don’t be afraid to change your study method! Make cue cards, Venn diagrams, draw a timeline or a mind map – any excuse to colour, really. 🙂 My favourite way to study is by making practice tests and sharing them with friends. Predicting questions helps you think critically and sharing them with your friends serves double-fold to assist them and also generate discussions which will in turn benefit you and your memory of the topic. Additionally, if you’re getting tired reading one type of material, switch to another subject that can re-enchant you with studying, while still being productive. Don’t forget to return to the first subject! 🙂

#4 – Have Alternative Outlets

It’s great to be driven and to have goals, but when all of your attention is focused on one dimension this puts pressure on yourself to succeed and even exceed, which can lead to stress. While a little bit of stress can sometimes help you accomplish your goals, too much stress is distracting, unhealthy and does NOT result in productivity – therefore, it will unlikely help you reach your goals. Having interests and passions other than academics helps mitigate academic stress and furthermore gives you something to look forward to doing. So join a club, start that blog you’ve always been thinking about or hit the gym every Tuesday. Volunteering is also a great way to get involved and help yourself by helping others! Check out the AMS website for a full list of Queen’s clubs.

Answer: Because she was a pale-eontologist.

Photo courtesy of William Clifford under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.