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Tips from our Learning Peers on Studying for Exams

With exams underway, we’ve asked three of our learning peers, Emma Hubbard, Lisa Lavalle, and Pooja Sankar, for their advice on preparing and studying for exams.

How can I find motivation to start studying?

Try to experiment with what works for you, it’s important that your studying routine fits your individual needs! Ask yourself:

  • What time are you most productive? 
  • What classes do you find most enjoyable?
  • Is there a location that you focus best in? 

Then, try to block out time each day for very specific tasks. Start with the least daunting task, like opening CourseLink, and then move to harder tasks when you’re most productive. Remember to schedule breaks and rewards. 

How can I avoid distractions while studying online?

  • Communicate with others about when you’re studying to hold yourself accountable
  • Make sure to avoid as many distractions as possible before studying. Turn off your phone and find a quiet space to work! Disable notifications on your laptop if needed!

How should I prepare for an online exam?

As alternate arrangements have been made to accommodate physical distancing, some exams have been moved to open book, while others are using a lockdown browser. 

  • If you have access to your notes and resources during your test, make sure you understand the content available to you. 
  • Many open-book exams have questions that ask you to apply the content, rather than simply reciting information directly from slides or readings. 
  • Understanding the content is beneficial in these situations. 

It’s so important to plan ahead!  

  • Find a quiet location to take the exams with no distractions or other people. 
  • Clear your space so you can focus on taking the exam. 
  • Test the browser application well before your exam to avoid any last-minute problems  this means testing the webcam, microphone and other technology required.

How should I study for an online exam?

Studying for online exams is the same as an in-person exam. Even if you have access to your notes, you should prepare for your exam as if you don’t! 

Some helpful strategies to prepare include:

  • Dividing your available time and your workload into manageable chunks. Study frequently in shorter periods of time.
  • Planning breaks (e.g., 10 minutes for every hour of studying). Build some free time into your schedule to allow for unforeseen things. Be flexible.
  • Focusing your energy on studying, not playing catch up. If you are already behind, try to prioritize, concentrating on the material most likely to appear on the examBoth the course objectives and the lecture topics will tell you something about what to focus on when studying for an exam.
  • Verbalizing information instead of reading silently: this increases sensory input to the brain
  • Re-organizing the course material in a logical way — how do the concepts fit together? Try creating a concept map.
  • Teaching the material to someone else. This is one of the best ways to learn it yourself
  • Using the 3Rs: Read, write, recite the material.
  • Involving physical movement or senses where appropriate.

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Email us at library@uoguelph.ca.