Advice to students during exam week

To our fellow students, we know you view this last week of school with absolute dread. So do we. Some of you know that this lone biochemistry exam could be the difference between you getting into a Tier I medical school or a third-rate P.A. program. Some can’t stand the idea of being kept from your X-Boxes with an unusual load of studying; these next three days, you’ll exert more brain power than the previous 15 weeks combined.

No matter your situation, we know that at one point or another, the same idea passes through most everyone’s mind: “I just don’t care anymore.”

The semester is almost finished, the (temporary) end is in sight, and the exhaustion of three months of non-stop working, working, working is enough to make you want to hibernate for the next few weeks. But the enticing thought of mentally starting winter break two days early is toxic to your success — both now and ten years down the road.

So we’re here to encourage you to harness your mental fortitude and trade in these next two days of torment for forty years of career success. Just push through this last week.

If your mind is moving so frantically and your thoughts are so scattered that you don’t know where to begin, calm down and read on. We have some advice from our own exam experiences over the years:

First, prioritize your studying based on your exam schedule. Take the exams one at a time, and don’t panic about your Tuesday presentation until your Monday test has been laid to rest.

Next, many professors have study guides for their exams that outline in great detail what students should know for the exam. When studying, make sure you focus on this material first. If you don’t have the time or strength to go over all your notes or re-read all the chapters covered in the book (and let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that!), at least you will have covered the fundamentals that may help you figure out other questions.

Remember to take breaks here and there. Some experts suggest that these can actually improve how much information you retain. After you study for an hour or more, reward yourself with a 10-minute break — power nap, watch TV, turn your brain off or do whatever it is you like to do in your free time. To be clear, taking hour-long breaks after 10 minutes of studying is not a reward; it’s procrastination. So if you start a show on Netflix, be ready to stop it in the middle to get back to studying. Be fair to yourself as you schedule these next few days, and don’t put yourself into a situation that calls for panic.

This last tip depends on the person as to how effective it might be, but calculating the exact grade you need to get on the final to get the grade you want in a class may be beneficial. If you are someone who does well under pressure, then it might be good to know what you are shooting for and how well you need to do. On the other hand, if you tend not to be a good test taker or you crack under pressure, resist the urge.

Whether you take our advice or not, at the very least, don’t give up. The anguish will be worth it in the end.