As December arrives, students, whether first year or upper year, are faced with a challenging time ahead. Exams can bring about emotions that students will have to manage to be successful in their university career. Preparation is a vital component to doing well on exams. There are also many strategies that one can implement to ensure success on exams. Following some helpful suggestions will hopefully lead to an enjoyable and well deserved Winter break.

Sound time management, applying a note taking system, being organized and developing study sheets far in advance of the exam are examples of proper preparation. Although exams may seem a long time away when classes begin in September, in a twelve week semester they arrive in no time, especially when mid-terms, essays, assignments, projects, and presentations are the focus in between. Since there is much to think about during the semester, time must be set aside to plan for exams.

Recognizing such things as what the instructor has stressed in the final few classes and determining what will be covered and what format will be used is very crucial. It is important to know if the exam will cover material from the whole term, since the mid term or only certain sections. Equally important to know is if the exam will consist of essay type questions, short answer, multiple-choice, true-false or any combination of the four. Reviewing copies of previous exams, if available in the library, and recognizing a consistent theme may be helpful. Studying with fellow peers may be wise as discussions among classmates can create new ideas and new ways of communicating potential answers. This strategy can also bring about a better understanding of the topics covered.

With all this being said, remember to take a break! Watch your favourite television program, go out for a quick coffee, tea or hot chocolate and enjoy some fresh air or workout for thirty minutes. Taking breaks is important to stay sharp and to ensure you do not become too overwhelmed with information.

A valuable resource available for students is the free learning skills workshops presented by Brock University’s Student Development Centre. Workshops offered focus on such things as: Preparing for your Exams, Handling Exam Anxiety, How to Write Multiple Choice Exams and Last Minute Exam Preparation. For more information regarding the learning skills workshops please visit

Since not every study tip or strategy works for every student, it may take time to find which strategy works best for you. Explore and educate yourself on as many as possible. You will be able to evaluate for yourself which ones are most suitable to your style and potentially to the type of exam you will be studying for.

Best of luck on your exams and best wishes this holiday season!

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