The Dumbest Things Students Do When Cramming for Exams
Each year before the holidays, university students find themselves staring down the barrel of exam week. Fortunately, they’re totally serious about learning the information and they aren’t getting up from this desk until they do! Unfortunately, desperation can only be directly converted into high scores on reality TV. But this crawling panic and insane workload is a great learning experience. University is all about preparing for the real world, and this is one of life’s favorite lessons to teach: You’ve messed up badly and there will soon be a reckoning. How do you deal with that?
The first and most important thing is to actually deal with it, because running away from University only dumps you in the real world faster. And make no mistake: In the game of life, University isn’t even easy mode, it’s the bonus level. You want to enjoy it all the way to the end. Here are some ways your brain can trick you into studying without actually learning anything.
Listen, students, this might sound crazy but it’s important: You are not squirrels. You may be hyperactive mammals frantically running around trying to mate, hibernate and look hilariously retarded in online photographs, but there’s an important difference: Hoarding things doesn’t help you. Students spend the days leading up to exams stockpiling handouts, photocopies, printouts and textbooks by the video game logic that simply owning books makes you smarter
Your head won’t absorb knowledge because you built a library on your table. If you find yourself doing this, simply take a deep breath, and tell yourself it’s not your fault. You’re trying to cram three months worth of information into a brain that stress has tricked into thinking it’s being chased be a bear. Hell, you’re lucky you’re not wearing your socks on your hands right now.
But that doesn’t mean you should let yourself off the hook when you notice yourself doing this. If you’re familiar with the university system, one thing you will notice without fail is that the terrible students would “study” by piling up work all around them, then sit there wasting time and being miserable until the clock said they were finished. Which is actually brilliant preparation because that’s exactly the type of job they’ll get.
Instead, try starting with something manageable like reading one book you were supposed to have read. And when you do, keep in mind that …
Highlighting Key Points Doesn’t Mean You’re Really Studying
If you’ve ever been to a university, or a library within two miles of one, then you’ve seen a student painting their notes like a My Little Pony in drag. We shouldn’t have to explain that highlighter pens aren’t like supermarket scanners — they might drag bright lights over things but they don’t instantly upload data.
Again, this is just your brain flipping out. People having nervous breakdowns revert back to infancy and start flinging their poop around. You’re having 40 percent of a nervous breakdown, and reverting to preschool logic. “I’ll take the most essential parts of my course and COLOR THEM IN! Yay!”
It’s understandable, but it’s profoundly stupid. If you notice yourself lighting a textbook up like TRON fanfic, drop the highlighter. Instead, try writing out the key points of your reading material on a separate page you can study easily and anywhere. If that sounds like too much work, well done, you’ve just found out why people highlight instead.
In times of stress, the Examinated Student (Stressus Procrastinatus) can spend over an hour crafting the perfect “study nest” to defend itself from guilt. It all has to be just right, from lighting to coffee, because every single thing that needs to be fixed is another reason not to actually study yet. Some students spend longer trying to reach the perfect setup than Buddhist Monks spend trying to reach Nirvana, and with less tangible result
Depending on ‘Re-Reading’ Materials Alone
Re-reading your notes does not count as studying, even if it is the easiest way to technically study while watching Tinsel. Also, you’re ruining Tinsel. Watch Tinsel, and then set aside time to actually engage with the material. If you’re in science or engineering, do problems. If you’re in history, write out key elements of a period in a paragraph, or try to teach the chapters you’ve read to your lazy roommate who didn’t read them, and have him try to teach you the ones he read.
If you’re in English lit, put down the play you already read, and write a one page essay discussing how Hamlet was the greatest
pussy of all time. Do something, anything, which tests your knowledge or makes you actually think, then use your notes to find out what you’d forgotten. Then do the problem again. Instead of sitting and reconfirming.
Fake studying is the worst waste of time since the super chickens replaced the super eagles. If you don’t want to study, there are bars full of other people having more fun than you while not studying. And while they’re screwing themselves, they figure they might as well screw each other. You’ll always find the best college parties just before the exams. You’re missing that by studying, so make sure it’s worth it
Solving Questions For The First Time In The Exam Hall
There is no way to say this without sounding patronizing: If you’re preparing to do an exam, prepare by doing exams. Every year millions of students do their first exam-style problem in the exam hall, and if there’s one thing we learned from university, it’s that the first time you do anything important, you suck at it. Even if you suck at it.
Odds are your course wasn’t created this term. They’ve been asking the same questions for years, and the only reason they even pretend to change the wording is because they’ll lose their accreditation if they don’t. Your Exam Questions Are Got When Exam banks, Older students, just Google your course code and the word “exam,” there’s no excuse for not practicing what you actually have to do. Many students think of preparing for exams like Dragon Ball Z: You focus and concentrate all sorts of power with endless text for weeks, then fire it all out in one perfect blast. But exams are just like everything else. You get good at things by doing them as many times as possible. Which is also most students’ real plan in college anyway.
Skip the “I’m So Screwed” Competitions
“I’m so screwed!” The attention-seeking cry of the idiot, one who knows they desperately need to fix themselves but would rather have attention for being useless instead. It’s the Project Fame of exam season.
SCENE: Library, two dumb-asses.
A: OMG, I’m so screwed for this test!
B: I didn’t go to half the lectures!
A: Well I didn’t go to any!
B: Our Lecturers Are So Old, They Don’t Know How To Teach
A: Our Lecturers Don’t Even Understand The Course Well
B: Our Lecturers Said No One Will Graduate With First Class Honours
A: Our Lecturers Divide Our Exam Scores
B: Oh GOD, We’re So Screwed!
By The Time You Finish Trying To Prove You’re Even More Screwed Than Your Buddy, Precious Study Must Have Been Wasted And You’re Under Even More Stress!
Complaining That the Lectures Didn’t Prepare You for the Exam
Complaining that the exam was unfair is generally the best way to go through the uncomfortable process of failing a class, while not learning that any of the above strategies are bullshit.
The most common post-exam complaint is, “Why didn’t the lectures just teach us how to do the exam?” For the same reason sex isn’t just wetting a condom and throwing it in the toilet. Your professors are actually trying to teach you the subject. Exams aren’t the point of education. They’re the flaccid little appendix we still sort of need to test if people have been turning up. Exams used to be walking into a room with all the smart people and just talking to them until they decided whether you were a dumb-ass or not. We suspect most students don’t want to go back to that.
I’m sorry, but here at The Real World Incorporated there’s no multiple choice section. You actually have to know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Now that higher education isn’t just for nobility we can’t do it that way. Hundreds of thousands of people get into higher education. This is progress. But it’s not going to be a perfect system.
You’re in university to learn how to think and do things. Exams are an extremely small part of that. If you treat the only minor obstacles in four years of opportunity unmatched in the entire history of human civilization as a huge hassle to be avoided, you’re right when you say the educational system isn’t working for you. But it’s not the educational system’s fault. ITS YOURS!
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