Have you ever looked back and realized “I really could have done this better”? I definitely have. I’ve realized some things that I did wrong during exams.
I’ve been finished exams for over a week now, and let me tell you, it feels good! I only have 4 courses this semester, my honours thesis and then three fourth year psych courses. Although I didn’t have a crazy exam period, I had an insane week-before-exams period. The second-last week of classes I had a class presentation, a research paper, my entire literature review for my thesis all due, and I also had to start writing my end of year paper worth pretty much my whole grade as well as study for two finals. It was insane.
Overall, though, I only had one final, so that was nice. It was definitely a bumpy road, though!
I’m really good at figuring out what I could have done better. I swear, it’s like my superpower or something (“Wouldacouldashouldagirl” right here). This exam season was no different–after I finished my last assignment I sat back, grabbed a cup of tea, and immediately thought of 7 things that I did wrong.
Usually, when I do this, I get super bogged down and kind of depressed about how much I didn’t do, and I can let myself get really bogged down by “I should have…” statements. I was really proud of myself this year, though, because reading through the seven points I jotted down with that cup of tea, I realized that for the first time I actually found points that are easy to fix! Instead of just blaming myself for everything I did wrong, I actually found a lot of very easily fixed things that I’m just going to make sure I do next exam period.
I thought that these would be good things to share with you all, too, since it’s always more fun to learn from someone else’s mistakes than your own. So, without further ado, here are 7 things that I did wrong this exam season.
1. I didn’t eat properly
Please, this is the plight of every student facing exams. We all eat crap, we all forget to feed ourselves and then find ourselves binging on pizza at 4:00 in the afternoon. Just because it happens to everyone doesn’t mean that it’s the best option, though.
To do your absolute best on exams, make sure to fuel yourself properly. I got way more stressed than I needed to, and most of it was due to hunger, not actual anxiety.
2. I didn’t study consistently
This one started about a month into school for me. I stayed pretty on top of my class notes and lectures, but the textbook readings were another story. I got caught up again in November (that was my goal!) but then once December hit I kind of slid back since I had focused on getting readings done, not truly absorbing the material. So I found myself with a mountain of material to review that I had read before but didn’t really remember! Talk about frustrating!
The solution was to study consistently all semester. Since I had to scramble to stay on top of things in November, I wasn’t able to take the needed time to sit in the material and really dig deeper to get a more fundamental understanding of what I was studying. If I had stayed true to my schedule all semester, I would not have found myself in that position. New years’ resolutions, anyone? ????
3. I stopped working out
Honestly this one started in November. For some reason I convince myself when I am stressed that what I want to do to relax is watch Netflix, not hit the gym, even though I know that working out reduces anxiety and watching Netflix just makes me feel kind of tired and lazy.
Your brain works so much better when you’ve been giving your body regular exercise, and you feel more awake and ready to study! The answer was to force myself to go workout even if it was only for 30 minutes to help me stay energized and ready for the day.
4. I stopped reading my Bible
This one is big for me. I kept praying, which was one of my goals, but I was hoping that my habit of reading my Bible every day would stick this month through exams. Unfortunately, I did a terrible job at this, even though, again, I know that reading my Bible makes me less stressed and more relaxed.
The answer to this is to schedule it in. I really like Catherine’s Power Hour method, which means every morning when you wake up you spend 20 minutes feeding your mind (reading a book, maybe), 20 minutes working on your body (stretching, working out), and 20 minutes feeding your soul. If you’re having a hard time feeding your soul, like I was, I’d highly recommend using her pointers to make sure you’re taking care of every aspect of yourself. I know I’m going to!
5. I did not clear away distractions
For me, this means I didn’t have a good meal plan, I hadn’t cleaned the apartment, and I had tons of papers all over my desk. This all created a ton of mental clutter for me, and I should have just taken an hour to tidy and take care of things so that I had no excuse to worry about them instead of studying!
6. I did not put aside time to take care of myself
Taking 15 minutes every morning to just have a quick shower and wash your face makes the world of difference. I still showered, don’t worry, but didn’t take the extra time to do my hair or to tend to my skincare. I get really bad breakouts when I get stressed (REALLY bad), and that definitely didn’t help. Plus, just not feeling super fresh and clean every day made me a lot less motivated to do work!
7. I forgot why I was studying what I was studying
This is a big one for me. At the end of the day, I am in psychology because I love it. I am passionate about this topic, about helping families create safe and healthy home environments for their children. I love learning how we work, how we learn, why we do what we do. I am studying psychology because I have been given a heart for this work, not because I want good grades or because I want to prove something. It’s important to remember the reason you are studying what you are studying.
What are some things you did wrong this exam season? What are some things you did right? I want to know! Leave me a comment and tell me!