Current facets (Pre-Master)

How to survive exam period even if you are a master procrastinator

Maria Karra
Maria Karra

Since the previous blog, where I discussed the first world problem of biking in Rotterdam, a city with thousands of bikes running around, for my second blog, I tried to find something that worried me before coming here. And suddenly, a horrible thought popped up in my head: EXAM PERIOD.

I consider this a very serious reason why I could quit the idea of starting a master. The unfortunate fact is that it doesn’t happen once and then it leaves you in your own peace of mind. You finish your exams but, guess what. Exam period strikes again way sooner than you could imagine. Procrastination will knock on your door again and you will remember that you haven’t organized your library or your closet for so long (meaning the previous exams), you have to learn how to make pancakes and you must immediately clean the house because it looks dirtier than ever. Oh, and what about this new super cool series on Netflix that your friends talk about for months now, but this is the perfect time to start watching it? And then, you reach to the exam week feeling confused about how quickly time passed and how not ready you are for exams.
I found a particularly funny and interesting video from Ted Talks, which I totally recommend you to watch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU), discussing how the brain of a master procrastinator differs from a non-procrastinator. Did you, master procrastinator, know that an instant gratification monkey lives in your head getting you to do unproductive things until a deadline hits?

Therefore, the question is, what can you do to study effectively and feel relaxed during exam period? I searched on the internet and found many articles related to this subject. Some of them provide good advice, but most of them are obscure and apply only in theory. As I am not the appropriate person to give you advice since I‘m one of the most anxious people I know, I asked for the help of friends who are pursuing their masters at Erasmus University.

Do you want to focus more during your study process? Arianna and Chara, two ESE master students in Marketing, recommend you to get out of the books for a while! Give time to yourself to do something that you like and just have fun. Arianna does yoga in the evening in order to relax and to empty her mind. Furthermore, she allows herself to sleep for 8-9 hours every day since she believes that sleep helps retention. For morning energy- although I have to admit that for me coffee is irreplaceable- Arianna suggests a smoothie with lots of vitamins. Chara, on the other hand, spends time painting which calms her down and eats a lot to fuel her mind. God bless chocolate, I would say.

Do you want to remember theories more easily? Sibren, an International Economics student, spends his time in Polak using a white board to write everything down and to understand all the formulas instead of just learning them. It might be more time consuming, but it’s way more effective and helps when you go blank during the exam due to uncontrolled stress. Also, I found a method called Feynman Technique, which proposes to explain to someone else a concept you have learned in simple language, as if you were teaching it. This will help you notice if you have understood thoroughly the concept and if you are ready to use it in the exam. Moreover, Sibren listens to loud music to relax which isn’t recommended if you have grumpy neighbours or roommates.

I handle exam periods by drinking unreasonable amounts of coffee, eating chocolate, skipping many hours of sleep and complaining half of the time about what I must do instead of doing it. I know how I misbehave but I cannot change it even though I have put a lot of effort. The point is, it is not bad to feel nervous and overwhelmed in a exam period. I survive, with success in most cases, and you can do it as well. 

Go to the mirror before each exam, look deeply into your eyes and say: Make it happen. You are the new Einstein and the most talented person in the university or the world, depending on how much you need to boost your self-confidence. Who cares how silly it is if you see results? No one! So, grap your pen, your chocolate snack, make a quick stop in front of your mirror and go get them!

Blog 2 - Maria Karra - photo 1