10 questions to ask yourself before an exam

At the time of writing this, I have precisely two months left until my cell biology exam. And although that may seem like a lot of time, I assure you, it isn’t. If I am to be able to get through all the learning goals before the end of Christmas, I have to work 2 hours each day (excluding days like Christmas eve of course), and prep before I go on holiday. Every time I enter exam season, I make a work plan, or as I prefer to call it (and have literally named my document) “battle plan”. Here I ask myself a few simple questions to figure out how to best prioritize, and apply my time and effort in a strategic way. So without further ado, here are those very same questions for you to ask yourself:

1.       How would I ideally want to revise if I had all the time in the world?

2.       What two or three things on the list from question one will I get the most out of?

3.       How much time do I have until the exam?

4.       If I account for travel days, holidays, or other days where I will not be able to work, how many days am I left with?

5.       How much work can I realistically do per day?

6.       What’s my “fudge ratio”, i.e. the time I take to get ready, and get into deep work/a flow state?

7.       What time of day is most convenient/best for me to work? (Note, these are not always the same thing, so choose wisely. Consistency is key, and getting into a good habit is vital.)

8.       If I’m traveling, is there any way that I can limit the amount of books I have to carry with me?

9.       Once I’ve decided on what’s most important, how do I wish to allocate my time between each task? What percentage of the allotted work time should each task or subsection take?

10.   What’s the most convenient place to work? (Remember the post on decision fatigue, and choose somewhere where you can’t “talk yourself out of” going to because it’s “too far” or “you don’t feel like it”.)

Be honest with yourself when answering these, and remember to “trim the fat”, and focus on what 20% of your work that yields you 80% of the knowledge needed for the exam. I spent a good chunk of this Friday creating my own work plan, so set aside some time, and get planning!