Ah, exam block. A time of stress, freaking out, too much studying, the burning desire to procrastinate and even more stress. But it’ll all be over and done with before you know it. After your last exam, you’ll be on holidays and everything will be good again. That is, until you have the startling moment of realisation. You won’t be free as soon as you thought. You have an assignment due the day after your exam.
One of my least favourite things about university is when I have assignments due around the same time as I have exams. To make matters just that tad worse, the assignment I have at the moment is worth 60% of my overall grade but the exam is closed book and bringing in notes isn’t an option. So what do you do when you have assignments and exams piling up at the same time? Which one do you focus on more? Do you aim to get great marks on one of them and a not so fantastic grade on the other? Here’s my advice on how to balance your assignments and exams when they’re both due that close together.
- Try to work out which will be easier for you. Chances are, one of them will be easier than the other. Some people have a knack for exams, whereas others feel like they work better on assignments. If you think you won’t have any trouble with the assignment, then dedicate a bit more time to studying for your exam. But if it’s the other way around, then put more time into writing your assignment.
- Split your day in half. Have one part of your day dedicated to working on your assignment while the other half of the day you can study for your exam. If you’re having trouble figuring out which one to do first, my tutor gave me some great advice. If your exam’s in the morning, then study for your exam in the morning. But if it’s in the afternoon, then start studying for your exam in the afternoon, so that by the time your exam comes around, you’re used to working at that time.
- Don’t leave one until the last minute. If you’re in your exam, but you haven’t started working on your assignment that’s due the day after, the outcome probably won’t be good. During your exam, you want to be thinking about your exam, not about the work that you could be doing on your assignment. Be kind to yourself by allowing yourself the time to work on your assignment and study every day, rather than putting off one for the sake of the other.
- Begin work on your assignment early. While it’s a tiny bit late for that now, there’s no reason why you can’t take notes on how you can benefit yourself next semester. Start working on your assignments as early as you can and try to get the bulk of them done before exam block. That way, you’ll have less work to focus on when exams do come around, which means that there will be a lot less freaking out.
By balancing your exams with your assignments appropriately, you’re going to be doing yourself so many favours. Remember that you don’t have to sacrifice your assignment just so you can do great on the exam and vice versa. Just stay positive and tell yourself that you can get through both of them and there’s no need to panic so much.