Student Voices: Don’t Panic! | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Don’t Panic! | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Don’t Panic!

International student blogger offers firsthand advice for surviving exams

It’s that time of year again: finals are coming, but Christmas is not far away. It will be a busy month for university students, but please slow down a bit while cramming as much information as possible into your brains. Don’t push yourself too hard, just try your best and you will be fine. I would like to offer you my advice as a third year Arts student.


  1. Make a study plan for your exams. Organize your notes you took throughout the semester and write out a brief outline. Then you’ll know which parts need more attention.img_2150
  1. Find your favourite study space! Personally, I prefer to study in a public space rather than in my dorm. I find that I can concentrate better because there’s no cozy bed beside me and snacks all over the desk. If you prefer a quiet space, quiet floors in different libraries are a great choice. If you like studying with some background noise, ECHA, HUB lounges and the group discussion floors in the libraries could provide you the space to study with your friends, or organize a group session. According to many students, the study space on the eighth floor of DICE has very good view. After studying for hours it’s nice to look up and see an Edmonton sunset. (Better than a sunrise… all-nighters aren’t good for your health!)
  1. Make flashcards. After organizing the notes you took in class, write some key points down on flashcards and bring them with you, and review when you are lining up for coffee or waiting for the bus.
  1. Attend review sessions offered by the professor, or form a study group with your classmates. A study group session provides you the chance to exchange opinions and notes with each other. You might have various ways of solving problems, plus you’ll likely find out you’re not alone when you’re stuck on a question.
  1. Seek help and ask questions! As an international student, when I was in my first year, I was so new to university and I was shy to ask questions with my still-need-to-improve oral English. I would worry that I was wasting other people’s time asking “dumb” questions. I was so wrong. There are many academic support centres on campus that are very patient and more than willing to provide you with support. Also, if you feel stressed, peer support centres and many other on-campus resources are there for you as well.
  1. Get to sleep on time and avoid the all-nighter. We have heard it so many times: get a good sleep before your exams. But not everyone can sleep early — including me. I tried to force myself to sleep at 10 p.m. the night before an exam. But instead I lay on my bed, staring at the dark ceiling and waiting until 1 a.m., when I usually fell asleep. Then I felt bad for wasting three hours lying on my bed doing nothing and didn’t get the good sleep that I want. I would recommend trying to adjust your sleeping time a few days before your exams — so just go to bed a half-hour earlier each night until you’re able to fall asleep sooner.
  1. Stay calm. Once you get to your exam, don’t panic. If you are stuck on a problem, take a deep breath to calm yourself down. If a question takes too long, skip it and do the questions you think you can solve first, and then look back. Don’t waste the time panicking and overthinking during the exam!
  1. Don’t forget to reward yourself at the end! After your exams are done, don’t forget to reward yourself. Even a cup of hot chocolate or a new pair of warm Christmas gloves would be a good treat in this cold weather!

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.

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About Meijun Chen

Meijun Chen

Meijun Chen is an outgoing third year international student from China, majoring in music and minoring in economics. She loves playing the clarinet and piano, and attending concerts. Dodgeball, tennis and basketball are her other favourite activities. She is currently the SU Lister Student Representative and Peer Tutor in Lister Centre, treasurer of the University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and a volunteer with the UA International Global Academic Leadership Development (GALD) program. She has travelled to more than 15 countries and regions for music cultural communications and competitions. These experiences not only deepened her cultural understanding, but also strengthened her interpersonal, organizational and multitasking skills.