A few months ago, I wrote about how stressful it felt to be going through midterm season. While writing about it helped me through that dark time, I’m not quite sure I learned my lesson– it was rough time sitting in Robarts until 4am in the morning, and an even harder time writing all those study notes. Did I cry then? Yes. But did I submit myself to the same sad fate this semester? Ab-so-lutely.

I wish I could say I was one of those students that studied weeks in advance, but like most of my peers, I was bogged down with endless readings and assignments right up until the end of the semester – and having exams during class period certainly didn’t help. But after many rounds of going through this process: three years, and six semesters – I’ve started to get better at it.

So how did I go from crying at my very first economics term test in first year to walking in to a full-year final on political thought in international relations, with confidence? I don’t quite think there’s a formula for it, and I haven’t turned my work ethic around 100%, but I have fine-tuned my studying patterns to ensure that I do the best I possibly can.

The most effective way that I’ve found helps is to study in groups. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a good way to get everyone’s insight on all the concepts covered in class. By organizing a note pool, everyone must contribute to the pool before being able to see everyone else’s inputs, making it extremely fair for everyone that wants to work together. Further, it helps everyone out when there are weeks that you missed (I know I missed a couple weeks of classes here and there, and having people submit their notes helped cover this ground.)

Apart from the note pool, simply studying together in the same room has been extremely effective. Talking out loud about ideas and concepts that might be on the exam – and teaching them to each other – helps me learn very well. While talking, I start to realize that I know a lot more than I thought I did (which is always a nice surprise.)

Speaking to my professors and TAs also helped in covering certain lectures that I had concerns about. I know in first year I was shy and didn’t like talking to my professors, but especially in upper years, it becomes a lot easier to speak to educators one-on-one about concerns and questions about the class. The majority of professors and TAs – particularly those in the PCJ program – have been extremely kind and understanding of the questions I’ve had.

Lastly, it’s really helped me to think to myself, “It is what it is.” I know – this isn’t what I should necessarily be doing and I should always shoot for the stars, or something. But at the end of the day, you’ve studied and learned what you can – and if you’re able to walk in to the room with confidence that you’ll do well, you certainly will.