When coming from high school, your first college exam can be quite the academic shock. No matter what you do, there is a 99.99% chance that you won't be ready or know what to expect for your first ever college exam. But don't worry! After you have your first exam under your belt, you'll be ready for the rest of your years of college exams! So here are some tips on how you survive (and thrive) on your first exam.
1. Go to office hours.
I cannot possibly stress this enough. It is so so so important to go into office hours (especially for those classes you know will be hard) so that your professors know who you are and know that you are putting in the effort. Office hours have completely saved me when I have been totally lost on a topic. You may also get lucky and get a grade bump at the end of the semester if the professor knows you have been asking questions and motivated to learn (as if you needed another reason to go to office hours)!
2. Don't cram the night before.
I know that I am guilty of doing this, but don't cram the night before the exam! Nothing that you learn past midnight will truly stick for the test the next day. Save yourself the stress and go to bed before midnight. If you feel you aren't ready before you go to bed, get up a little earlier the morning of the exam and go over some last-minute items. Just remember, sleep is the best thing you can do to let your brain form those connections between the material, and it's important to feel well rested for your exam.
3. Don't forget to eat breakfast in the morning!
The most important thing you can do the morning before your exam is to eat food! I know as college students it can be hard to remember to eat sometimes (not for everyone, but for some of us), but don't forget to fuel yourself up before your exam. The worst thing ever is taking an exam on an empty stomach because you won't be focusing on your exam; you'll be focusing on how hungry you are (I say this from experience)!
4. Form study groups.
Study groups saved my life (and my GPA) during my freshman year of college. I had no idea how to take college exams or how to study, so studying with a group of people really helped me! It also helped me to form connections that were really valuable to my learning. Not to mention that I met my best friends through my study group. 10/10 would recommend that you form one, too!
5. Don't panic!
It can be really easy to freak out once you get to the testing room and feel like you know nothing. The worst feeling is when you start to completely blank on everything you've ever learned as you're waiting for the exam to be passed out. But try really hard to take deep breaths and remind yourself that your test score will not define you. There is plenty of time to improve if you happen to do poorly, and you know as much as you possibly could know! You got this!
So don't panic if you have your first college exam coming up soon, you can do it! Relax and remember that you are doing the best that you can.