While 2020 is finally over (good riddance), we can't help but address the elephant in the room: nothing is back to normal. With Boris announcing further lockdown restrictions (cheers for that) and a new strain making its way across the globe (what if 2020 was actually the best year to come?!), students have one more added stress to deal with: preparing for online exams. Self-isolation and solo learning are just some of the hurdles students have had to overcome this past year and there's no signs of that stopping anytime soon before summer - sorry guys...maybe 2022 will be the one?
While for some, online exams with their notes by their side are the dream, for others it's a complete nightmare. Surrounded by scraps of paper, your parents in the other room making noise, and your sweet, sweet bed just calling to you - we get how it can get a bit overwhelming to just get your head down and focus on your online exam.
But fear not, UniMate has your back once more with some sweet tips on how to prepare for online exams that we're sure to be using (good luck on your exams CEO Charlotte!).
Organise your notes
The pros of preparing for online exams is that you don't need to memorise everything. However, that can incentivise some people to avoid studying all together only to later panic on the day of the exam. But is that really the way to go about it? (Insert that *wrong* buzzer noise right about here).
Try summarising and organising your notes into clear, numbered concepts or chapters so that it's much easier to find the answers you're looking for on the day. Writing a contents page for your summarised notes will also make searching for key topics much faster. You should keep revising your notes so that you have a clear idea of the subject however, you thankfully don't have to stress yourself out with knowing every detail (hallelujah!). Get yourself a cup of tea and just take it eaaassyyy.
We prefer using virtual note-taking (sorry pen and paper note-takers) as it makes it so much easier to find words and topics. If you're reading this - this is your sign to switch from taking your notes in Microsoft Word and using Microsoft OneNote. It keeps everything organised into different tabs that you can name after your modules and just makes more sense to use than saving each word doc individually. You can also sync the notebook to the internet and can access your notes from anywhere.
Get in the zone
Whether it's an offline or online exam, all Uni examinations require preparation. But we understand that studying from home can get very distracting. Setting yourself time limits is therefore important that's why we suggest starting off using The Pomodoro Technique. This means focusing for only 25 minutes at a time with a 5 break afterwards in order to make studying more productive. Thinking about studying for an entire day can be daunting, however setting a quick 25 minute timer makes tasks seem a lot more achievable. Just choose a task you want to accomplish, set your timer up and get working away for a quick 25 minutes before taking a quick break and start again.
You can also use this technique for your day-to-day life like while doing your chores (cleaning up after your flatmates? Gross. Only 25 minutes of cleaning up after your flatmates? Equally as gross but manageable!) or when picking up a new skill/hobby.
Digital distractions be gone
If you haven't moaned about the fact that it's hard concentrating in your room when you've spent the past year exercising, relaxing and working in there then you're either lying or you've got an entire apartment to yourself. For those who have experienced the pain that is closing your Uni/work tabs only to remain on the exact same laptop to watch YouTube on after a long day can vouch how hard it can be to unplug yourself and decouple the work space from the private space. This goes both ways, making it much harder to concentrate on your laptop at home when you're not being held accountable by other students roaming the library for a spot and eyeing your seat up. Oh to be in a library again with your meal deal.
This means that digital distractions need to be held at bay when studying for online exams. Chrome extension StayFocused lets you set timers for the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites (Twitter - I'm looking at you), while the News Feed Eradicator wipes your Facebook and Twitter feeds clean and replaces them with an inspirational quote to stop you from falling down the scrolling rabbit hole. Session Buddy also helps remove the clutter by saving tabs as collections. This means that you don't have to have a million tabs open at once and can easily restore your tabs if your computer crashes - thank us later.
Like music to my ears
A 2007 Stanford experiment discovered that classical music can actually aid your brain in absorbing new information and improving your reasoning abilities. Can we get a 'W' in the chat for listening to music while preparing for online exams? Not only that but music has also been linked to improving concentration and helping keep your mind calm while studying. Of course, it depends what kind of music we're talking about so we suggest lo-fi hip hop radio beats to study/relax to (the jokes will be over soon, promise).
Spotify has study playlists galore ranging from beautiful piano pieces to ambient electronic music and relaxing hip-hop beats (#notsponsored but #openforsponsors - Spotify hit us up). Check out our Instagram where we'll be posting more of our favourite study playlists that we love to get more music inspo.
Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. As students ourselves who are used to regular exams and regular Uni life in a regular world without irregular Covid (insert angry face emoji!!!), we understand how tough it can be to get your head down and ignore everything that's going on around us. We too miss the library and seeing our mates for study coffee breaks so it's important that we all try to help each other out virtually however we can. We hope you've enjoyed our piece on how to prepare for an online exam and leave you with a few fun reccs: 1 Giant Mind is a free meditation app alternative to HeadSpace, the new Netflix mockumentary by the creators of Black Mirror - Death to 2020 made us lol and Aldi's baked camembert with winter spices glaze makes for a great January Blues treat.
Check out our previous post where we discussed how to make the most of your virtual internship and make sure to keep in touch with us on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to find out more student life tips and other fun content.