Surviving Summatives

     Summative season is usually a 4-6 week time period where students across Canada are struggling to create work that will decide their final mark. Whether it’s stressful exams that cause your hair to fall out or summatives that stretch on for weeks and absorb all your time like a bone-dry sponge in a cup of water, every student encounters the horrible summative season two times a year and needs to find ways to cope with it. 

     Making a schedule is one extremely effective way to manage your time. The first step, of course, is to figure out what you have to do. Take a step back and look at your classes as a whole, and see if you have an exam or summative. If you have an exam, look through your notes at all the key points you’ve collected and jot them down as points to study later on. If you have a summative, again, keep your notes handy, and carefully read through the instructions before you start. Be extremely cautious about due dates, set calendar reminders and alarms to make sure you do your work, and section off parts of your summative so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you have a sixteen page essay due in eight days, make it a goal to write two paragraphs a day. If you have an exam in two weeks, set aside an hour or two a day to study and by the time it comes, you’ll be ready. Since students often have a mix of exams and summatives, its important to study in all areas every day so your brain retains the information, but you don’t want to overwork yourself. An hour or two of each subject with a break in between is one of the best ways to study while still remaining relatively stress-free.

     It is common to feel overwhelmed and anxious during summative season, so it’s extremely important to take care of yourself. Many people will push themselves to stay up until three in the morning, or will forget to eat because they’re so focused, but do not attempt a study regime like this. The less energy you have from nutrition and sleep, the less you have to devote to studying, and the less you have to actually retain the information you go through. 

      Eight hours of sleep, though important, is completely ideological and far fetched for many students, so its reasonable to aim for six or seven. Anything under this, you’ll feel drained during the day and inevitable have more of a struggle getting to sleep if the pattern continues. Set a solid sleep schedule for yourself; for example, I work night shift a lot, so my goal is to sleep by 11:30 every night, so when I wake up at 6:30 it’s a full seven-hour sleep. Be sure to turn off your phone or use blue light filter (known as night light on chromebooks and night shift on iPhones) so you feel well-rested in the morning. Make sure to eat at least two meals a day, because for busy folks like me it’s far fetched to have three, and make sure not to do your work on an empty stomach. Additionally, chewing gum while studying then the same type of gum in an exam will help you remember what you looked at. It’s important to remember all these things as we approach summative season- the 4-6 week period where everyone dies inside.