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Anne Lieber

May 11th, 2022

5 ways to survive exam season

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Anne Lieber

May 11th, 2022

5 ways to survive exam season

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Like many graduate students, I took some time off between university and graduate school (in my case, 3 years). As a result, I encountered my first graduate school exam season long after I had sat an exam. I’ve found my approach to studying had slightly changed since my undergraduate years (and not just because of the differences in graduate school vs uni). That being said, having an entire month to study has turned out to be a huge adjustment for me and several of my classmates. With that in mind, here are my best exam study tips. Though, do keep in mind that everyone has different ways of studying.

1. Study Plan

You know how people say practice, practice, practice? When it comes to major assignments, I like to plan, plan, plan. I look at all my assignments and exams, when they are due, and how much of the overall grade they are worth. I then create general goals for how many days I will spend on each assignment, what areas I really want to review for the exams, and how to review them. At the end of each week, I write down my goals for each studying day of the following week. I also think about back-ups, because the second key part to a good study schedule is being flexible.

2. Be Flexible

Ah, the planning fallacy. “Man plans, G-d laughs.” “The best laid plans…” However you want to describe it, we can all agree that our plans almost never pan out as we’d hoped. Things I have encountered this exam season alone: a bad cold, not getting feedback on an assignment when it was expected, not getting everything done in the day that I wanted to, and, miraculously (and perhaps I am jinxing myself here), something not needing as much work as I had expected (which was eventually offset by myself taking way more time on other areas where it was not anticipated).

3. Change It Up

Let’s be honest, being in the same spot all the time can get a bit boring (a bit ironic for me to say, as I spend a disproportionate amount of my time on campus in my departments’ common area). That being said, one of the best pieces of advice I got regarding school was when I was 14, and my chemistry teacher told the class that our brains associate what we are learning with our senses, so the best way to retain information is to review the same material in different settings.

4. Study Buddies

During my undergraduate studies, I was more of a lone studier. While I’d happily share study materials like notes and flashcards with my peers, I was the kind of person who would hunker down with my laptop, books and snacks in the library in the morning and leave 10-12 hours later (not something I’d recommend, by the way). In grad school, I’ve found that a good mix of solo and group study works best for me. Everyone has different ways of approaching studying and information and their own strengths and weaknesses, and studying in a group allows you to talk out any concerns you are having or things you don’t quite understand.

5. Rest

I know I say this a lot, but I can’t emphasise it enough. Rest, rest, rest. You are no good to anyone if you’re exhaustedly trying to push through. Losing one day to complete rest is better than trying to slog through for a few days and realising you barely got anything done.

About the author

Anne Lieber

Anne Lieber is a first year Master of Public Administration student at LSE. She is originally from the Washington, DC area.

Posted In: Study: Masters

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