How to Rock Your Exams While Keeping Your Cool

H7AG0RL6TRTo be completely honest, I’m shocked that I’m writing this blog post right now, for two reasons:

1) I didn’t think I would have time to do anything during exam time but study.

2) I never thought I would be able to give advice on keeping your cool during exams — I have been known to be a big ball of stress during exams in the past.

As of the time I’m writing this, I have completed two exams and I’m feeling great. My stress levels are at a minimum, and I feel like I have performed well on my exams so far.

In my years of university, I have discovered that performing well on exams is not all about studying all day and knowing every single thing you’ve learned. It also has to do with your mental state.

Here are some ways that I have stayed happy and healthy during exams, while still performing well. Shoutout to my upper year law buddy, Janessa, for some of these great tips!

This is a hike I did a few weeks ago, up to the Goldstream Trestle.

This pic is from a hike I did up to the Goldstream Trestle a few weeks ago.

1. Stay active

I think that a big part of the reason why I’m feeling so good is that I’ve been exercising a lot. I’ve been going to the gym, playing basketball, and taking long walks.

I find that exercise has a massive impact on my mood, and a good workout can help relieve any stress that I’m feeling.

Hiking is another fantastic way to stay active, because you also get to enjoy nature.

2. Walk to campus on the day of your exam

This is a new strategy that I’ve started for this exam season, and it has worked wonders.

It takes about 35 minutes for me to walk from my house to campus, and I listen to relaxing music while I’m walking. By the time I get to school to write my exam, I’ve had a bit of exercise and any stress that I was feeling before the walk has disappeared.

This is what my walk to school looks like.

This is what my walk to school looks like. Not too shabby.

Many of you may not live close enough to campus to walk from home, but if you take the bus, try getting off a stop or two before campus and walk the rest of the way.

Some of the artists I’ve been listening to while walking to campus include The Staves, Sigur Rós, Ed Sheeran and the Civil Wars. Listening to this type of music helps put me in the calm headspace that I want to be in before an exam.

3. Don’t stress with your classmates before the exam

This is one that can be hard to avoid, but so far I’ve done well.

Often before an exam, your friends and classmates will talk about how stressed they are, or try to cram in some last minute studying together. Hearing your classmates talk about the course content could potentially make you feel confused about concepts you thought you knew, and that is not something you want right before the exam.

My way of avoiding this is to stay out of the student lounge of the Fraser Building (UVic’s law building), because that is where a lot of this discussion will happen.

4. Dress to impress

Many people might disagree with this one, but I find that I feel more confident for an exam if I dress well and feel put together. It gives me the feeling of being more in control, and the confidence to perform well on the exam.

Lots of people may prefer to just wear sweatpants/super comfy clothes, and that’s totally cool too. If there’s any time you should be able to wear sweatpants to school, it’s during exams.

5. Wear earplugs and sit at the front of the classroom

FYLN4CE6C7I never used to do this until I came to law school. At UVic Law, we write our exams on laptops, and the sound of people typing can get pretty loud.

Earplugs block out that noise and make it feel like there’s nobody else in the room. Also, if you sit at the very front of the classroom, you can’t get distracted by what other people are doing.

6. Be confident

This might sound cheesy, but… Believe in yourself! You are intelligent, and you usually know know a lot more than you think you do. As hard as it is to not be a nervous wreck when exams roll around, try to be confident. This has helped me tremendously so far.

7. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep

negativespace-25This one is self-explanatory. Sleep is so important and if you don’t get enough, you’ll probably feel more stressed AND you’ll be less effective in your studying.

In my ~4 years of university so far, I have not pulled a single all-nighter. Sleep is way too important to me.

8. Treat yo self

As Aziz Ansari’s character on Parks and Recreation would say, treat yo self.

After I write an exam, I take a break from studying and relax for a bit. A few nights ago I watched the movie “The Holiday” and drank peppermint hot chocolate with my fiancé. It was awesome.

After studying so hard for an exam, and finally writing it, you deserve to treat yo self before you get back to the grind. Even if it’s just for an hour or two.


Well, that’s all I’ve got! I have to write a take home exam now…

I hope this helped some of you. Remember, your mental health is just as important, if not more important, than studying all day.

Good luck on your exams!

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