Surviving Exams in NUI Galway
There's so much to love about Uni life, especially in NUI Galway. A beautiful campus, a vibrant city with a great nightlife, some of the nicest people in the world, pizza Naps after a night out...what more do you want?
There's nothing quite like the blissful meandering though a day in the life of a college student. Rolling out of bed when you feel like it, living off instant noodles, being one of the lucky ones with no lectures on Fridays, making the most of this on Thursday nights, student discounts and your parents are just happy to have you home!
However, there's also nothing quite like the stresses that come during exam time. No matter how consistent you try to be during the term it always seems to come down to cramming a semesters worth of information into a day or two and WHY, do they make all assignments due so close to exams?
There's no one method of studying that's definitely going to get you that 1:1 unfortunately. An engineering student will have a much different exam to someone studying psychology for instance, so studying methods will not be the same. We are all unique and our brains will take on information in different ways, you need to find your groove, recognize what works best for you, where to study, what times etc and stick to it.
More generally speaking there are things we can do to set ourselves up for success.
An exam study timetable is a good place to start. Break the days up into subjects or topics, outline what you want to achieve each day or even each hour. Once you see it written down it's much easier to stick to a plan and achieve your goals when you can see the end goal.
Download a template at https://www.parent24.com/Learn/School-exams/print-it-weekly-study-timetable-20160720
Managing your time is a good way of attempting at least, to avoid distractions. A popular technique used is the Pomodoro Technique. The methodology is simple: When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called "Pomodoros") that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines. Pomodoro is a cyclical system. You work in short sprints , which makes sure you're consistently productive. You also get to take regular breaks that bolster your motivation and keep you creative.
Choose a task to be accomplished.
Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper.
Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
Repeat that process a few times over the course of a workday, and you actually get a lot accomplished—and take plenty of breaks to grab a cup of coffee or refill your water bottle in the process.
Don't forget to manage your time on social media. Something we've found useful in the past is the website blocker Cold Turkey. Block certain distractions from your browser for a specific amount of time so you literally cannot spend the day scrolling through your news feed. https://getcoldturkey.com/
Diet & Sleep
If you're a sports person you know how important it is to fuel your body, or else you simply can't perform at your best. Both your mind and body come under stresses during the exam period. Invest in yourself & take your diet seriously. Healthy options will always win out over fast food but just be sure to eat and stay hydrated and do not skip meals.
Aim to drink 1.5 - 2 liters of water per day. For most people it's going to be impossible to avoid caffeinated drinks at this time. We see the coffee & energy drinks combo proving popular in An Bhialann around this time. Just be mindful to have a cut off point for caffeine intake. Researchers at Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine analyzed the sleep-disruptive effects of caffeine consumption at different lengths of time before bedtime. They found that caffeine consumed even 6 hours before bedtime resulted in significantly diminished sleep quality and sleep quantity.
The effects of lack of sleep can hugely effect your cognition, your focus, memory, learning, decision making etc. Over 50% of students report getting less than eight hours of sleep per night. The majority also report getting more sleep on weekends. You may feel that the all-nighter is essential, just consider the impact it will carry on to the next day or days after. You may be better off getting your head down and having a rested mind and body for when you really need it during the exam.
Make sure to pat yourself on the back from time to time. "All work and no play"... You need frequent breaks, you need to switch off so you can switch back on again. Watch a movie, go bowling, meet up with friends. You will thank yourself for it when you come back with a fresh mind, eager to learn some more.
Put simply, just do your very best, read the questions carefully, stay in the exam hall for the duration of the time allowed and believe in yourself.
Best of luck to all of our lovely customers sitting exams at this time, from everyone at An Bhialann.
P.S Don't forget to bring your student ID to the exam hall!