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Matthieu Santerre

May 19th, 2014

Exam Season

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Matthieu Santerre

May 19th, 2014

Exam Season

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Those who have been following this blog will find this post familiar. In December, I wrote a post on essays, entitled Essay Season. In it I got away with comparing essay writing to Bugs Bunny, and President Eisenhower to Elmer Fudd.

Now, in an exercise in self-plagiarism, or creative recycling – depending on the point of view – I will repeat my guiding principles but apply them to exams. In a way it is a sequel.

As before, I should mention that these are merely guidelines. I am not an expert in these matters. So if you follow my advice and your exam results disappoint you, do not come running after me, a lawyer at your side.  I will probably be out of the country.

Here are my five suggestions for getting through exam season.

Breathe

This may seem self-explanatory, but a lot of people tend to forget to breathe while revising for exams, and in consequence, go blue in the face. No exams are as important as to warrant failing to take a breather.  Always remember to take a big breath every once in a while to calm your nerves. Oxygen is quite pleasant.

Eat

This is in fairly similar to my first suggestion. The fact is we tend to forget the simple things when we are engrossed in revisions.  By eat I mean sitting down to a meal three times a day without any textbook propped up as reading material, or notes used as napkins. Your brain needs fuel. A good meal is always good for morale.

Sleep

Now you might think me a tad facetious. Yet it is my personal opinion that sleep should never be compromised. It is probably the most important element in success, aside from the actual studying. You need sleep to assure all the information you have rummaged through during the day stays memorized and is in order. I suggest adopting a regular sleep schedule.  If what makes you fall asleep is a teddy bear, favourite pillow, or a copy of the Tax Code, so be it. Find what is right for you.

Study

You might say study is implied. I am not going to suggest any particular method because each person has their own which works best for them. What I will say is whichever method you choose, have a plan and stick to it, and remember to target what you retain. You do not need to know everything in every detail.  Target your subject matter and be precise.

Practice

We work best when we are prepared. Most courses have previous exams available. Use them. Pick a few questions and take 15 minutes to plan a rapid outline of how you would answer the question. An exam is an exercise in coherent reflection. Training yourself by writing these questions is the best preparation.

I realise that three out of five of my tips are related to body functions. “What a disappointment!” you might say, having read this article to procrastinate from studying.  However my suggestions affect you (if they affect you at all), I wish you the best of luck for your final exams.

Breathe, eat, sleep, study and practice. Be confidant, stay strong, and all will be well.

About the author

Matthieu Santerre

I am a graduate student in the MSc History of International Relations programme here at LSE. I did my undergraduate studies in Political Science at McGill University in Montreal. I like drawing, and have done a number of illustrations for Le Délit. More recently I illustrated In Through A Coloured Lens, a brilliant book by Pat Watson.

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