While the rest of the country celebrates jacaranda season, university students are reminded of the old saying – “When the jacarandas start blooming, exam time isn’t far away…”
But with the time lost in the academic year due to #FeesMustFall protests, most students don’t have much time to study for their end-of-year exams. Many are studying under increased police presence, curfews and stun grenades and The Daily Vox team asked some university students for study tips to help get you through this stressful time.
1. Because some of the studying material hasn’t been covered in lectures and coursework because of the #FeesMustFall protests and therefore will be excluded from the exams, write down all of the sections you have to study and break up the material further into smaller sections that you can concentrate on and work through systematically in batches.
2. Don’t let the stress and uncertainty of the exams overwhelm you and distract you from studying. Exams may be disrupted or cancelled, but try your best to prepare. Even if there isn’t much time left for the commencement of exams, make a study timetable and try to stay ahead of your work.
3. It is understandable that most people are behind with their work because they’ve either been involved in the protests or were unable to concentrate on studying. Just breathe. Prioritise what needs to be done first, and work through that.
4. In these difficult times, don’t attempt to go at the studying process alone: make a study group, find friends who you can share notes and study with, and who can motivate you to study so you don’t fall behind. Having a friend to keep you in check will prevent you from getting despondent and discouraged. Since students can’t be seen congregating at most universities, use online platforms such as Dropbox, Google Hangout (When near WiFi), email and Whatsapp to coordinate studying sessions.
5. Try and keep in contact with your lecturers and tutors. Most lecturers and tutors do make themselves available to students because they understand the difficulties that students are going through. So email your lecturers and try and go talk to them about any concerns you’re having and if you have difficulties with any of the work.
6. If the exam stress as well as the pressure of having private security on the campus or anything else is getting too much, speak to someone: a friend, parent, lecturer, the wellness centre at your campus. Don’t be afraid to speak out if you’re feeling unwell and the stress is getting too much. Take care of your mental and physical health.
7. As a result of some campuses having curfews and restrictions on libraries and study spaces, you might not be able to get to those venues when you need quiet time. Create a studying space in your res room or at home. It should be at a desk with lots of light if possible. Switch off your cellphone and other distractions and create a studying area which is separate from any possible hindrances to the studying process.
8. If there are any disturbances outside your res or studying place like rubber bullets being fired or stun grenades going off, try to block it out by listening to white noise or classical music. Don’t listen to loud music as that will not calm you down or block out anything.
9. Very importantly: get enough sleep! Pulling all-nighters will mean your brain and body will probably be too tired to concentrate during the exam. Get a good night’s rest before the exam and don’t try to stay up swotting using Red Bull or coffee. If you have difficulty sleeping at your res because of disturbances, try to find a friend or someone else who can offer you accommodation.
10. Make sure you eat healthily in the days leading up to the exam and especially on the day of the exam. If the dining halls are closed or you can’t get to one, don’t buy junk food. Rather go to a supermarket and stock up on healthy options like fruit and soups and ingredients to make sandwiches. Also try and exercise whenever possible.
The circumstances may be difficult, but you’ve got everything you need to slay these exams. Just focus on being the best you, and it will all happen. From all of us at The Daily Vox – good luck!