Ready for Exams? Here are some tips.

Monday, November 26, 2012


By: Garry Go

With finals on the horizon students are preparing for the long stressful journey ahead. Filled with hope, anxiety, and energy drinks they take camp throughout the library and other various places across campus to study for their finals or to complete their projects or essays. Classes for the fall semester are set to conclude November 29, with examinations set to start on the third of December. Whether you have that cumulative exam to study for or that huge paper due its important to be ready and prepared. Here are some tips to help you navigate yourself through this time.

Remember: The library will be packed.

To guarantee an area to study at in the library it is best that you come early or get a friend to reserve a spot for you. Coming early does have its advantages with more options being available to you for seating. As the day progresses more and more students fill the library and the odds of finding a place diminish--including the spots that have an accessible plug. If you do intend to study in the library but find yourself wandering for minutes in search for a place to study, there are other places you could possibly study on campus such as the UC and the Science Complex. Again finding a space on campus can be very difficult at this time so expect the worst.

Study accordingly.

Pulling all-nighters and cramming the night before an exam may not be the best idea. Melanie Bowman, manager of the wellness centre, explains “Many students believe that it's a ‘rite of passage’ to stay up all night during university and that ‘it's kind of fun,’ but pulling all-nighters compromises your sleep overall and makes it difficult to reach full academic potential. Short-term side effects of sleep deprivation include delayed reactions and tendencies to make mistakes.” Manage your time properly so that doing all of your work last minute isn’t an option.

Caffeine and energy drinks: Pick your poison

Around this time an influx of students feel the need to visit there nearest vending machine or coffee shop and buy a little liquid energy to help them get through all their work. Melanie claims “Though there is nothing wrong with a moderate amount of caffeine, sometimes people ingest massive doses of caffeine all at once and this is dangerous because it doesn’t give the body time to react with the normal warning symptoms that indicate too much caffeine is in your system.” She also encourages students not to add to these symptoms by drinking even more caffeine. “Here are the usual symptoms in order from the first ones to be exhibited to the more severe, later stage ones: Jitters, Increased heartbeat, Nausea, Anxiety, Heart palpitations, Insomnia, Sweating, Dizziness and Vomiting.” When it comes to any stimulant be sure to use only in moderation. A little can go a long way. 

Find time for freedom.

“When tensions are high self-care including relaxation, quality sleep, and good nutrition are important to managing stress” says Melanie. “It is important to emphasize that stress is a normal part of our everyday life, coming from events that happen all around us. Something or someone external, our own body, or our own thoughts can trigger stress. The effects of stress could either be good or bad, depending to a large degree on how you handle it.” She says if stress is managed properly it can be a good thing. “It helps keep us alert, active, and more energetic. During exams it can actually provide increased glucose energy available to the brain and thus help students with performance.” She goes on further to explain that when stress levels get too high it can lead to even worse situations. “When stress gets too much it turns into distress, and if we handle it in a negative manner, it begins affecting us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Too much stress gone unaddressed can lead to depression. My concern is for students who overuse tobacco, alcohol or other drugs as a way to cope with stress. In reality your body still remains stressed, and these substances when used in excess just help make matters worse. Stress effects on the body can be physical, physiological, and psychological.” 

Avoid using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs to cope with stress. Remember there is a world outside of your textbook and notes so feel free to explore it when things get too overwhelming. 

Pre-Game Ritual.

By pre-game I mean what you do before the exam itself. Do something to help calm yourself down and prepare you for what is to come. Get comfortable. If reading notes calms you down then by all means do it. If listening to some music that gets you pumped up gets you motivated then sure why not? Get yourself ready because once you enter that room its game on!

            Finals can be a hectic time for some of us. With finals, cumulative exams, and projects bombarding us it isn't difficult to find ourselves stressed out and tired. Here on campus there are several resources at your fingertips to further help you through finals. 

The library is collaborating with other groups, such as the wellness centre, to host a program called Comfort and Joy that is taking place in the library during exams. It includes workshops and events to help you de-stress and learn more tips on how to succeed during exam time. For more information you can visit: http://academictownsquare.lib.uoguelph.ca/comfort/


There are also several services being offered year around, including exam time:
1. Counselling Services - 3rd floor of the UC. Call Ext. 53244. Walk-in appointments M-F 12:30-3:30
2. Student Support Network - Raithby House (by the Cannon). Call Ext. 55002. Drop-in 12:00 to 10:00PM. Peer to Peer support
3. The Wellness Centre - 2nd Floor of the JT Powell Building above Student Health Services. M-F 8:30-4:30. Peer to Peer Support. Tons of information regarding stress and other health and wellness related issues.
4. Stress Management and High Performance Clinic offers lots of programs to address stress, worrying, anxiety, and better sleep. Call Ext. 52662
5. Student Health Services, 1st Floor JT Powell Building. M-F 8:30-4:30 with a appointment. Call Ext. 52131. Walk-in M-F 8:30-4:00PM
For students in crisis after hours contact Emergency Ext. 52000.


To all students during this time I wish you the best of luck. Exam time takes its toll on a lot of us but once they are finished they are out of our way... for now at least.

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