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EXAM TIME BLUES by: Steve Cutler

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xam stress can be all encompassing. The emphasis placed on grades, be it by yourself, your parents, or simply the educational institution (SMAVs!), can make the days leading up to an exam feel like death row. A final that you’re feeling uncomfortable about can be particularly overwhelming. There have been too many mornings where I’ve woken up to find that I’d been dream-studying economic principles or a chronological order of events all night. I don’t want to tell you that I think marks aren’t important, because that would be a lie. You need good marks to continue your studies, to be considered for scholarships and jobs, and to a certain extent your marks actually reflect how well you understand the course materiel (even if we might not like to admit it). I would, however, like to share with you some of the thoughts that keep me sane in this stress-y, snowy stretch leading up to the winter break.

#1 You aren’t your marks

The most important thing to remember. You’re still an incredible person (unless you’re Ryan (kidding (DOUBLE KIDDING))) despite the fact that you got a 60 in your english lit. class. Knowledge integration, above all other programs, is about exploring what you’re interested in and what you’re good at. You’ll bomb one course, sure, but you’ll make up for it in a different course. Or maybe, while you’re skipping out on studying, you’ll discover that you actually want to start your own music label, or make comic books. The point being that there’s a lot going on outside the sometimes narrow scope of academia. It can be easy to ignore reality and dismiss the things that make you you as unimportant.

#2 Be nice to yourself

It’s easy to fall into whole day routines where you do nothing but cram facts and run mind drills. This might boost your grades, but it can be pretty rough on your concept of self worth. Take a night off. Get together with your friends and watch a movie, treat yourself to a nonacademic book and a latte, or spend a night making crafts and listening to music. It’s a personal belief of mine that what you find yourself gravitating towards when you should be studying for exams are the things that you feel truly passionate about.

#3 Share the love

Allow me this cliched moment. Above everything else, remember that we’re all in this together. Talk to someone if you’re feeling down or do something nice for a friend. If you know someone who bombed an exam, take them out for a drink (alcoholic or non). I’m sure that even the third years, hardened by reality and poster projects, could use a hug now and then.

Exam season is tough (especially when it gets dark at 5), but come the 22nd we’ll still be alive, and things will be much better. We can get through this alone, but it’s way more fun if we do it together.

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Exam Time Blues  

Guide to studying during Waterloo exam period, Fall 2010

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