Ten signs you've definitely left exam prep too late

October 14, 2015
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“I’m never doing that ever again.” It’s the post-exam catchphrase that resonates across Australia as thousands of students collapse wearily in the aftermath of testing week. Was it worth leaving study to the very last minute? The answer is, most likely, abso-fucking-lutely not.

Yet by the time you finish your degree, you’ll probably be all too familiar with the unrelenting cycle of denial, regret, determination, optimism and denial again, as you most certainly will be doing that again. 

In fact, with exams creeping up on us, chances are you may already be regrettably identifying some of the key signs that, yet again, you’ve left study to the last minute.

You’re teaching yourself the curriculum six weeks after it was taught in class

And you’re kicking your smartass, six-weeks-ago self for deeming your tutor’s wisdom to be “excessive”, “irrelevant” or “dumb”. Admit it: if you’d paid attention way back when, you wouldn’t be stuck in the mud right now, would you?

You’re now spending class time catching up on the content from five weeks ago rather than paying any attention to this week’s material

It’s called a domino effect, honey, and things ain’t getting any sweeter. 

You have more lectures to catch up on than the number of days left until the exam

And we all know that any student who claims they can cram four lectures into one day is a goddam liar. That shit takes yonks to get through, especially if you’re taking notes as you go.

You’ve resorted to learning the semester’s content from your lecture summary slides rather than doing the prescribed readings

This kind of revision is short, concise, and probably entirely inadequate.  

You’ve already calculated the minimum marks you’ll need in your final exam in order to scrape a pass

Because, sometimes, 50 per cent can seem like God’s holy gift on Earth.

You’re struggling to decide which subject you’ll dedicate your maximum studying efforts to, knowing the other subjects will lose out big time

RIP, Econ111.

After trying to figure out where exactly to start your study, you’ve ended up so exhausted and wretched that you instead opt for a nap to “sleep on it”, in the hope that you’ll wake up with a refreshed perspective

This doesn’t work. Trust me, it doesn’t work. All you’re left with is less time to make progress, increased levels of stress, and a severe case of post-nap grumps. It’s probably the most evil of all temptations, but by this stage you’ve already kidded yourself enough. Don’t let yourself nap unless you actually, seriously need one to improve productivity.  

You’ve created an hour-by-hour study timetable to make sure every available moment is used to its maximum efficiency

The timetable will probably include details such as:

3.30am-4.20am POWER NAP

4.20am-5.30am 21st CENTURY LEGAL THEORISTS REVISION

5.30am-5.45am COFFEE AND TOILET BREAK

You’re optimistically trying to convince yourself that your week-long Suits marathon wasn’t a total waste of time and actually counted as moderate revision

I mean, if you’re learning from Harvey Spector you’re learning from the best, right?

You’re starting to feel a “nasty fever” coming on…

You may have even drafted a pros and cons list that aims to reveal the most effective and believable way to get out of sitting your exams. The creation of this list could just end up eating into your valuable study time, or it could be the most ingenious and rigorous intellectual activity that you’ve undertaken all year.

Godspeed, friend. 

Hannah Hughes

Hannah is passionate about lime milkshakes. She also enjoys befriending ducks at the University of Wollongong, where she studies law and journalism.

Image: arielaot, Flickr Creative Commons license

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