So I’ve been out of university for a little over two years now, and sometime in January I came to the conclusion that I wanted to complete my human resources designation. My plan was simple, take two of the nine courses at a time, part-time, until completion. They’re short course timelines, so I should be able to complete the course work, write my exams, and be done within a year. Easy right? Wrong.
You see the thing is, I had forgotten how to manage my time when school work was involved. Wait – that makes it sound like there was a time when I knew how… Ok – truth time – I’ve never been much good at it. Reading page after page of a dry textbook, running through highlighters and taking notes like your life depended on it… GOING TO CLASS! Oh the humanity! I wasn’t very good at any of it. But I still did ok (especially exams), because I was (am), the cramming queen (insert crown emoji).
When I finished school, I vowed to never open another textbook… Enter January 2016 – I am the proud new owner of not one, but TWO $150+ textbooks – and a heap of self study material to go through. Joy. But I promised myself I would stay on top of it. Uhhh… Oops. So, flash forward to today – about 2 weeks out from my finals, (they’re open book, thank God), and I’m trying to keep my composure as I have A LOT of material to get through before my day of reckoning comes (reckoning, exams, basically the same thing).
SO!As I am currently bored stiff from reading a bunch of material on compensation programs, I was inspired to write this; also because my brain is horrible at coping with stress and will take any opportunity to procrastinate. That being said, I figured I’d compile a list of study/being-a-good-student tips to implement and help you ace your exams. Of course, if that doesn’t work, I also figured I’d better compile a list of cramming tips just in case – from the queen herself.
Tips to Save Your Sorry Slacking Ass from Failing as You Frantically Try Cramming a Semester Worth of Info into Your Brain in One Night, and Survive Your Exams
- Caffeine. You need this. Don’t discount the sweet nectar that is Red Bull. Coffee is good too, but you want to capitalize on time here, and frequent trips to the bathroom are no bueno.
- Set a time limit for yourself. If you’re cramming the night before a test, you are gonna need SOME sleep, so bank on at least 5-6 hours if possible, so you’re not too groggy, or worse, totally wacky from lack of sleep.
- Phone a friend. I mean this like Jeopardy meant this; if you can get a friend to bail your sorry ass out of this – do it. Like I mentioned above, talking material out together will be one of the best ways to ensure you know it.
- Use your textbook. If you haven’t done much or any readings for this exam, focus on the summaries at the end of the chapters. They should offer you a condensed version of the 40 pages of hell you decided to excuse yourself from.
- Make sure you understand all key words and can explain all important theories. Even if you don’t remember the specific name of the term or theory, being able to explain it will be worth points to your profs. Also, knowing key words is important so you can fully understand questions if they’re asked in course-specific language… Duh.
- Review your lecture notes… or posted slides. If you have lecture notes, read them over to yourself, and try rephrasing every point in your own words. If you haven’t been to class, download your prof’s lecture notes or slides and read them for the first time… If you’re learning this all for the first time the night before – God speed. Again, once you start to get a feel for the material, reread it to yourself in your own words.
- Use examples to understand new concepts. Like I mentioned above, if you’re learning a lot of the material for the first time, review the lecture notes with your textbook open. A big reason why textbooks are so dense is because they’re very example-heavy. If there’s a term, theory, or concept you don’t understand, find it explained in the textbook and use examples to help cement your understanding.
- LEARN FROM THIS. If the stress from this experience wasn’t bad enough, just think of all the fun parties your missed because you were stuck cramming, or redoing a course. Save yourself some slack and do better next semester… ok?
Exiting stage left to go and take my own advice… Happy studies! (Said no one ever).