final exams

2

2nd May 2016 // Day 26/100

Studied with a bunch of friends today! Although we got kicked out of coffeebean (smh, it wasnt even peak period or a weekend), I’m glad we studied at the grass area as it was much more comfortable aND WELCOMING. 😾Malay paper 1, 3 and Social Studies tomorrow. Wish me the best of luck😬

Hope this helps some of you, 

This is part 1, you can find part 2 here and part 3 here.

Note-taking methods

Time management tips

xoxo, G

My Study Method

My post 10 types of planners got way more notes than I expected. So today I will show you how I prepare for my exams. The method I’m going to explain is the one I’ve developed over the years and got me to get all A’s in high school. From taking notes, to nailing your exam.


1. HOW TO TAKE NOTES

1.1. Sit in the front of the classroom
Don’t give a f**k if you look like a dork. Make sure you can see the blackboard clearly. You should be able to look at your teacher and the other way round. In case my experience is not enough: Studies show that those who “sit in the front and center (middle) of the classroom tend to achieve higher average exam scores”. Plus, your teacher will know who you are and will be aware that you pay attention in class.

1.2. Ask questions
Don’t be afraid of asking questions. This took me years. Your teacher won’t think your question is stupid - in fact, it is their job to make sure everybody learns whatever they are supposed to teach. AND even if it looks as if the whole class has already understood the lesson, trust me, they haven’t.

1.3. Don’t write every word the teacher says
There’s just no point in doing such thing. Contract words and use symbols and doodles. Once you get home, fair-copy your notes if they are not clear enough (or at least, re-read them). Otherwise, when you try to study with your notes a few weeks/months later, you won’t understand a thing.

1.4. Clarify your notes
What did you just write down? Was it something that didn’t appear on the book? Was it an explaination of what the book says? Some info you should expand? Use a color code or symbols to clarify your notes. It doesn’t take time but will save you time in the future.

1.5. Compact notes
Write with tiny (but legible) handwriting. It is quicker, tidier, and it saves paper. Also, write in two or three columns.

1.6. How to stay motivated to take good notes
Last year I told one of my best friends (who is one grade bellow me) that I would give her all my notes at the end of the year. People normally dream of setting fire to their notes (and at least in Spain, people actually do that). But this other option (giving away my notes) was good for her and for me, since whenever I felt like writing carelessly, I’d think, “she won’t understand these notes, I have to do it better”.


2. PRE-STUDYING

Start pre-studying the very first day of class.

2.1. Active reading

Everytime I see someone whose book is entirely highlighted I’m like “why don’t you just dip it in a bucket of yellow paint?”. Seriously, stop.

  • Underline only the key words, not the whole sentence.
  • Use a different color (at least) for each paragraph.
  • When you read a paragraph, open a key in the margin and summarize what that paragraph is saying. Use between 1 and 10 words. Write as small as you can.
  • Right after you finish with a page, do an outline of the whole page in order to make sure that you have understood what you’ve just read. How? Scroll down.

2.2. Make it visual

Outlines, mindmaps, graphics… it really depends on the subject. All I know is that I just CAN’T study from a block of text.

  • Separate coordinated sentences and link them with symbols.
  • Use bullets or numbers and indent.
  • Color is not decorative. The same color links together different ideas.
  • Pink highlighters are cute but they don’t highlight at all.
  • Small handwriting and columns are your friends.
  • Highlight just the KEYWORDS. About 4-8 words per page.
  • Don’t use the same template or style on every page, unit or subject.
  • Number your pages.

Here you have a messy and a tidy example:


3. STUDYING

3.1. When should you start studying?

When I was in high school, I used to start studying one or two weeks before the exam. A few days before when I was too busy. The day before when I was about to jump out the window.

  • Divide whatever you have to study in equal parts to make it more approachable.
  • Try to organize yourself so that the day before the exam you don’t have to study because you already know everything (and you just need to revise a little bit).

3.2. Studying (and by studying, I mean memorizing)
Once you have read it and understood it, you have to memorize it. My favourite quote is: “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”

These are my methods. I also recommend reading this article for more. Use the method that works best for you or all of them to ensure you’ve got it.

  • Write your mind-map again and again and again. Don’t change the placement of each concept in your mind-map or you’ll become confused in the end.
  • Translate words into drawings. Translate your drawings into words. Repeat. Repeat!
  • Read a little bit, try to explain it out loud as if you were a teacher. Repeat endlessly.
  • Make a story that helps you fully understand what goes next and WHY.

3.3. Keywords list
This is the spine of my whole studying method. So basically, reduce each sub-topic to ONE word. Then reduce each topic to ONE word. Study those words by heart.

In the exam, just write down your list of keywords and you will easily remember each topic and sub-topic.


4. EXTRA TIPS

4.1. When studying a list of words or names
It is really important to know how many words there are.

  • Make a sentence with the first letter of each word.
  • Make a song. You can use a jingle you already know.
  • Picture a scene which contains all the words.

4.2. IMPORTANT!

  • Highlight, bookmark and make a list of those concepts that you usually forget or make mistakes, so it is the first thing you see (and revise) the next time you study.
  • The night before the exam, write in a little piece of paper that thing (an important formula, something that you always forget, your keywords list…) and that’s the only thing you should revise the following day.
  • Talk to older students and ask them for their old exams. Your exams will probably be different, but if the teacher is the same, they’ll be similar.


5. HOW TO NAIL AN EXAM

First of all, you should take a look to the Text Anxiety Booklet. It contains a lot of information for the ones who get really anxious.

5.1. Appearance matters
My teachers always say that when they are correcting our exams, illegible handwriting really pisses them off. Since they are humans, that attitude towards your exam will be unconsciously reflected on your mark. On the other hand, when they get to a visually appealing exam, they are more compassionate. Conclussion: MAKE YOUR TEACHER’S WORK EASIER.

  • Use your best handwriting.
  • Write your name on every page (if you are asked to do so).
  • Leave margins.
  • Separate your paragraphs.
  • Indent when necessary.
  • Number your pages.

5.2. Don’t ever leave a question in blank
Ever. Every little point adds up to you final mark, and a blank question means 0 points. If you write something and it is wrong, you simply made a mistake. But if you don’t answer, your teacher might think that you didn’t do it because you didn’t study. However, remember that your teacher is older and wiser than you, and will notice if you are trying to fool them.

In some tests, mistakes subtract points. In that case, you’d better leave the questions you don’t know in blank unless you like taking risks.

5.3. What if you go blank
First of all, wait a minute and take a deep breath. This is not a waste of time because it will actually help you do better. Now, do the rest of the exam and come back later. Then, if you still can’t remember, try retracing not what you studied but what you were doing while you were studying. Maybe you were drinking tea, maybe your father came into your room or maybe you heard something on the street. And remember that you control your breathing, and your breathing controls your feelings.

5.4. An exam is not a race
I guess some people believe they’ll receive a prize if they are the first one to hand in their exam. Those people have all of my disapproval. Use all the time your teacher gives you and always, I mean ALWAYS, revise your exam before handing in it. Revise. Your. Exam. Did you follow the instructions correctly? Did you answered all the questions? Are there spelling mistakes?


That’s it. I hope you found it helpful.

8

It’s that time of the year again! Good luck to everyone taking their Final exams! I hope these help you get through it. Feel free to print them out, put them on your bedroom wall or whatever helps you to get motivated

I’ve just earned a degree in Biomedical Science. This was my labcoat, and now it’s my Art Assignment uniform - I wear it to represent my future. I’ve dyed the coat with ink and printed it, using a petri dish as a stamp for added irony. 

For the past five years I’ve had to dedicate the majority of my time to science. In liberating myself from the pure whiteness of the coat, I feel like I’m breaking away from my rigid University education - I’m free now to learn what and how I want. I’m desperate to pursue the other things I love - art, languages, history, anything and everything. Now, I get to read the books I’ve been dying to finish, and travel to see friends I’ve neglected because of deadlines and assignments. Like this coat, my life has a science background - but both are now so much more than just that.

The education system here in the UK expects you to decide what you’ll do with the rest of your life at the age of 16, and offers very little flexibility - learning for pleasure was a luxury that I had no time for. I’ve only been able to study a very specific branch of science for the past five years, and though I’m honoured and grateful to have received such an education, it’s time for me to live for something other than my next exam. 

With finals coming up, I just wanted to put together a few tips. Feel free to message me about anything you need help on and I’ll help you to the best of my abilities. Anyways, here we go!

Studying/Prep tips

  1. Don’t leave your studying all to the last minute. I cannot stress this enough. Chemistry can be very confusing and therefore might take longer to study for then other classes. Five 1 hour study sessions beats one 5 hour session every time.
  2. Use your textbook. Honestly, it’s surprising how many people just ignore their book and only use their notes. This is fine in some cases, but in most textbooks there are practice problems at the end of each chapter which may be very similar to the ones of the exam.
  3. Double-check material. You may be tempted to only study the sections you don’t understand or forgot. Don’t do this. Seriously, I’ve done this before and when I got to the test I realized I had forgot the material I was confident with in the first place. Basically, review the hard things first, but don’t forget to go over the things you think you know already. 
  4. Memorize the formulas and constants. This should be obvious but you should know formulas and constants backwards, forwards, and upside down (I’m joking, but seriously..). Looking at a problem and realizing you don’t know the formula is literally the worst thing.
  5. Practice with the calculator you are going to use on the test. Again, this should be obvious but just in case I’m going to put it on here. 
  6. Go over the steps.  Drawing Lewis structures and balancing equations take many steps so make sure you know all of them, and which order the steps go in. 
  7. Watch videos. For auditory and visual learners (like myself), watching videos can be a helpful asset while studying for an exam. My favorites include Crash Course (more general) and Khan Academy (more specific). Pro Tip: I like to speed up Khan Academy videos 1.25x or 1.5x because they are a bit slow for me.
  8. Use premade study guides. Sparknotes has some good ones, you can find a ton if you just google search. If you want the ones I make for myself just send me a message.
  9. Don’t rely on flash cards too much. Flashcards can be useful but if your teacher is anything like mine, you will have to be able to understand and explain concepts, not just rattle off a bunch of definitions. I found that flashcards help me more on multiple choice tests, not so much on free-response ones. 
  10. Review your labs. Concepts found on your labs will most likely appear on your final, and it’s good to have the fresh in your memory. This is also helpful for tactical learners because they might remember concept better that they have seen and experienced themselves. 

While taking the exam

  1. Keep track of your units. Always the unit on the end of an answer. There is usually a unit on everything. 
  2. Look over all of the questions when you get the test. Do the easy ones first. This seems counterintuitive, but seriously, trust me. 
  3. Proofread all of your free response questions before turning in the test. 
  4. Check your math. Twice. Thee times. Make sure it’s right. Stupid math errors are usually what makes the difference between and A- and B+. 
  5. Keep track of sig figs and don’t use rounded values. Rounding your answer should be the very last thing you do.
  6. Write something. Usually you get some points for writing what you know, or guessing, rather than leaving the answer blank. 
  7. Re-check all answers at the end. Honestly, I never used to do this but surprisingly it helps a lot.

Some resources

Remember that grades don’t matter much compared to learning about how amazing the world is and the intricate processes that allow the universe to exist. Happy studying! 

five stages of finals grief
  • Denial:you know what? my grades are probably fine! i need to stop worrying so much
  • Anger:well FUCK THE SYSTEM for putting so much pressure on us to excel academically and FUCK ANYONE WHO THINKS A TEST GRADE DEFINES ME
  • Bargaining:dear god, please let me pass the test. just send me a sign i'll do alright so i can stop worrying, okay? i'll do anything you want, just... just send me a sign. .... .... ...okay, dear satan....
  • Depression:*hysterical sobbing*
  • Acceptance:okay, fuck it. just... fuck it. i will live in a cardboard box and i will live off the grid because i am going to fail this. i accept my fate. fuck this.
how to study for big exams

study beforehand:
Begin to study two weeks before your tests (or even before) so it helps your anxiety and you don’t freak out last minute. Two weeks before your test is the perfect time for you to start studying one hour to an hour and a half each day. This gives you time to prepare and get comfortable with what you have learned.

don’t cram:
It’s fine to review the night before the test but if you try to learn new concepts the night before you will be way too stressed out and will just end up getting anxious + not really learning anything. Don’t procrastinate and start now.

avoid distractions:
When you get really stressed out while studying, or every 30-50 minutes, try to distract yourself for just a couple of minutes (5 minutes). Take a light walk, play with your dog, or just take a minute, listen to music and let your mind wander. Don’t let it get too long though, this is just for you to refresh yourself. Also, make sure to avoid your phone even during your small break. Chances are you are going to get hooked and end up looking through it way more than what you intended to.

manage your time wisely:
Make lists and plan ahead in what you want to study. Create your own study guides if not given one by the teacher and make a study schedule. Begin studying and study harder for the subjects you need to get a better score on, and/or are harder for you to understand. Analyze your exam schedule and begin planning.

  • manage your time using the pomodoro method: what is the pomodoro method? it’s a really effective technique where you set a timer for 25 minutes and you start studying/working, when the timer’s up you take a short 5 minute break (no electronics!) there’s even a few apps on the app store, here are two i recommend:

flat tomato: apple (not available for android so click here for a similar one)

pomodoro time: apple/ similar on android

speak to your teacher:
A few days or a week prior the test, talk to your teacher. Ask them what kind of format the test will mostly be like. (Multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc.) ask them what’s the most important things you need to know and study from and focus more on.

make studying fun: use colors, sketches, foldables, flashcards, online games, etc. anything to spice up how you study!

✧ study methods:

  • read everything from cover to cover: not exactly reading it, but more like skimming through it. it might not work for everyone, but reading it 1 time quickly, not trying to memorize anything personally helps me kind of get the whole idea and what it is talking about.
  •  get a tutor: this is what helped me for math, since I really suck at it. do this if you are willing to pay for one or find someone at school whether it’s a teacher or an older student.
  • youtube: if you don’t like tutors or just don’t want to pay for one, go to youtube. You can get tutoring for free and have concepts explained to you in different ways. If you don’t understand something, you can easily rewind or switch to another video. there’s even programs that their goal is exactly that, helping people for free, like khan academy. (really good one!)
  • study groups: i do a lot better when i study with other people. I am bound to procrastinate if i decide to study by myself. Ask a few friends who you know will study and do understand the subject. If you are easily distracted and prefer to study alone, then go for it.
  • quiz yourself and others: even if you’re asking the questions, hearing the answers and checking them helps to memorize things better.
  •  teach the material to someone else: this can be really effective since when teaching it, you are also teaching yourself and testing if you actually understand what you are talking about. your mind will organize the information in a way that you feel will help the other person understand better.
  • flashcards: good old flashcards. I think having some on hand everywhere is good so you can just grab ‘em on your free time and go through them. they’re great for vocabulary words and concepts. If you don’t want to take the time to write them out then use any app. Like quizlet or studyblue. (you could also use @studyign alternative to flashcards method)

✧  more methods:

  • mind maps
  • outlines of the chapters
  • reviewing old tests
  • studying from your notes
  • taking notes from the book once again.
  • create a questionnaire for you to answer.


 ✧ motivate yourself: how? well, one way I usually get motivated is by reading school related tips and scrolling through studyblrs. but don’t stay on tumblr!! it doesn’t count as studying.

✧ before the test:

go to school rested: it’s important to let your brain rest. Be sure to at least have 6 hours of sleep before a test. Your health is important, you need energy. DO NOT PULL ALL NIGHTERS.

eat a good breakfast: choose something healthy (at least healthy-ish) that will fill you up and give you energy for the hours you are going to be in school. Don’t believe the “an empty stomach will make you focus better” not true. Some ideas are:

-eggs and sweet potato hash browns
-banana pancakes
-waffles with some peanut butter
-huge fruit smoothie

 wear something comfortable: wear an outfit that makes you feel good but it’s also comfortable.

 quickly review: just quickly go through any notes or flashcards you had written whenever you have time. During breakfast, while you’re in the car or waiting to get your test.

prepare: make sure to come prepared. A lot of teachers might not allow borrowing during the test. So make sure you have pens, pencil, eraser, liquid paper, calculator, sharpener or anything else at hand.

 ✧ during the test:

 READ: go through your test and read everything, then ask your teacher whatever you don’t get. Underline key words in every question so you can organize the problem, making it easier to tackle.

concentrate: don’t let anyone disturb you.

notes: write down things you feel you could easily forget. If it’s a math test, go to the back of your test and write down every formula you remember so when you are faced with a problem you can go back to check. By doing this you clear your mind and you don’t feel as overwhelmed.

take your time: Allow yourself to double-check problems and reread everything. It is not a race.

calm yourself down: breathe, you know this.

* i know a lot of you are already out of exam season but hopefully this can help you for the upcoming year! :)

please maintain your sanity during finals :))