How to Prepare for Exams

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Feeling stressed about exams? You aren’t the only one. With exams and final assignment due dates quickly approaching, Student Services stepped up to the plate to offer helpful ways to study and prepare for exam time.

Erin Caines from UNBSJ’s Student Services held two different exam preparation workshops this week, one on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. and another on Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 12:30 p.m. in the Hans W. Klohn Commons.

Caines’ first tip was to find a way to manage review time. Think about planning review sessions, even on a daily basis. The brain will remember information that has been seen or read before, so reviews are immensely helpful. Taking 20 minutes at the end of the week to review notes will help when it comes time for the actual study session prior to the exam in question. If using this study tool, remember to take a break every hour. Avoid distracting yourself with electronics, as all of the information you learnt while studying will be replaced by what is on your phone or laptop.

Another tip that Caines mentioned was creating a schedule and visuals in order to see what it is that you have to do. Caines’ states, “When you take the time to plan out when you’re going to study and when you’re going to get certain things done, and create that visual image for yourself, it can go a long way. Even if you don’t follow it to a T, think about what it is that you have to do, the time it’s going to take you to do it… lay things out and create a foundation for yourself and a visual image, it will help you stay on track and stay focused.”

The next step to effective studying is to create review tools. The first aspect to review tools is a good checklist, which can be compared to a course syllabus for exams. Caines explains, “All it is, is an outline of the things you need to study… write it all down… when you start to study you are able to cross things off, you’re able to better plan your time, and you’re able to prioritize a little bit better too… by writing it all down it’s going to create a realistic image of what you have to do.”

Flashcards are another option. they are extremely useful for classes like psychology, biology, and courses where there is a lot of specific information that you need to understand. If there is a memorization component to the course, such as definitions or terms, flashcards are the tool for you. Because it takes time to write out cue cards, you are studying without realizing it while you’re making the flashcards. There are some online websites that you can use to make electronic flashcards, such as

hiCaines says that, “Mind maps are also helpful because our brains works by association. So when you are able to think about information and slowly recall other information, your mind’s going to remember more because it’s going to create associations and allow you to recall better.” is a web-based online forum that allows you to make mind maps that you can share with others.

Try to plan a strategy. Ask professors what will be on your exam, sometimes they will give you clues as to what is going to be on it and how much time you will have to write. If the professor can’t tell you, find students who have previously been in that class who might be able to help you.

Finding an appropriate study space is important too. Do not study in your bed or on your couch, because eventually that will lead to you sleeping and not studying. Try to use the same room every time you study because again, your brain works by association and will connect certain smells or a room with the information you have learnt.

Here are the tips that every university student wants to know: how to cram. You have to make decisions and decide what to focus on. Make a quick outline of what you want to study, this will help you stay on track. Use your flashcards and mind maps as much as you can because the more you recite, the more likely it is that you will remember that information. Study out loud and repeat information; this again will help you remember the information. Remember to stay positive. You are already in the situation where you need to cram, so be as positive about it as possible.

There are all kinds of tips and tricks that can help you while writing an exam. For more information, contact Erin Caines at, or stop by her office in Oland Hall room G12.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.