At last, the orientation week and homecoming craziness have settled. The holiday buzz is in the air, and classes are finally winding down. Our first term of the first year is almost done for us first years! But before we all go our separate ways, for the holidays we must first face what we all dread most about the first term: exam season.
The first exam season for first-year students can be scary. So, I’ve decided to compile a list of first-year questions about exams, and have them answered by upper year students in all different faculties! Here are their best responses:
How different are exams from high school?
“The main difference I noticed coming from high school to University, is that exam season in Uni is exactly that, a season. During those three weeks, the only thing to do is study, with all assignments and classes done, you can focus solely on exams. Don’t stress, it’s really not that bad.”
“The exams aren’t that different, there is just more material to know!”
“Very! You’re in a room with many more people, it is very strictly regulated, and it can be incredibly stressful. That said, once you get over the initial shock it becomes second nature!”
How much studying should I do for University exams?
“Varies person to person. Enough to feel comfortable with the material. With that being said, for the love of god, please do not pull all-nighters. It’s completely unnecessary. If I see it, I’ll get mad at you. It’s not good for your health, and won’t do you any good.”
“Everyone is different. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to learn the material and then study it instead of doing it at the same time. But also, make sure to give yourself breaks and sleep! You remember things more when you prioritize your sleep!”
How do I know where/when my exams are?
“The Solus portal will always list your exam date and time, and if you click onto the exam you’ll get even more details including a precise location. Check that it’s not divided by last name!! If it says room TBD, you’ve probably received an email from your prof.”
What am I allowed to bring into my exam?
“A plastic baggy with your supplies, like a pencil or pen, eraser, your student card. I also bring gum to every exam, as I find it helps me concentrate and can be a nice break. You can also bring your phone and wallet into the hall, but they’ll have to go under your chair immediately and your phone has to be off. A heavy coat will have to be in a Tricolour bag (only 60 cents!) outside the exam hall.”
What do I do for study breaks when all my friends go home for the holidays?
“Take a breather!! It is perfectly okay to spend some time alone doing nothing. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed that you aren’t doing your usual night out during the breaks, and it is really important you get some extra sleep. Once all the stress is over, your body is going to relax and it is prime sickness season. Netflix and chill, in the most innocent sense!”
“Check out cool sights around Kingston, try some different food places, hang out with people who aren’t leaving”
What are some self-care tips I can use to de-stress?
“Remember that stepping away from studying is actually GOOD for you in the long run. You need to give your brain some time to consolidate all of the new memories it’s making, and coming back after a nice calming break will help it all stick. Keep your space clean — it can be really easy to let things get cluttered, but if your environment is messy, your mind will be too. DO NOT pull an all-nighter before your exam!!! Let your brain sleep!!”
I’ve heard about Course Cram Reviews from my friends. Are they really helpful? Should I spend the money and go to them?
“If you feel unprepared for an exam, I would recommend them!”
“Course crams are for people who are in desperation mode. Most people who use those do nothing during the semester. Varies person to person though, use your judgment. Everything you need to know from those sessions, you can teach yourself, or Youtube.”
Don’t forget about the resources available to you, including the Academic Grievance Centre and the Peer Support Centre. Your faculty society and undergraduate student government are here for you! Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors, spend time with friends, and practice self-care!
There you have it. Good luck this exam season, Gaels!
Becca Fifield is a First Year arts student. She is hoping to major in film and media studies next year and is currently the Brand Manager Intern for the Alma Mater Society.