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Strategies to ace your
first exam season

From study plans to day-of prep, Concordia’s Welcome Crew mentors have you covered

Two welcome crew mentors

It's exam season! If this is your first exam season, read on for what you need to know to give it your all during finals from the Welcome Crew mentors - experienced peers who've been there:

Double check your exam format, times and locations

Your first step to success is checking each exam's format: your course outline should specify whether it will be on Moodle, COLE or in person, and if it will be proctored or open book. Find out from your professor what’s going to be covered and how much it counts toward your final grade.

Don’t forget to check your personalized final exam schedule through your Student Hub > My CU Account > Academic > View exam schedule. If you think you have a valid exam conflict, be sure to report it as soon as possible.

Map out your study time

Once you've found all your dates and deadlines, start making a study plan. At this point, you should be reviewing what you already know — but you still have time to improve in any weaker areas. You can use your favourite agenda or check out the Student Success Centre's study time grid or time planner. 

If it feels too stressful to plan for your whole exam session, try planning day by day. Every morning or before you go to bed, create a schedule or to-do list with small and achievable goals to avoid cramming. Studying with others can be motivating — check out this handout on how to set up and maintain a study group.

Planning self-care into your schedule is a great way to make sure you can get around to it — sometimes it can get lost in the mix when we’re super busy. Whether it's watching a comfort movie, engaging in some joyful movement, preparing a nourishing meal or taking a hot bath, it's super important to be kind to yourself and your body while you're studying! 

Having difficulty coping with the crunch? Register for one of the Student Success Centre’s end-of-term workshops. Can’t make it? No worries, we have PDF handouts that cover an extensive variety of topics and skills. 

PRO tip: Don’t study right up until the last moment. Information overload might cause you to blank out at the worst possible moment.

Taking exams on COLE (online/proctored) 

  • If this is your first COLE exam, we recommend going through these tutorials and any other practice simulations to get familiar with how it works.
  • Make your environment comfortable: adjust the room temperature and wear something comfy. 
  • Gather your essentials: the system may ask you to scan your student ID, so have that on hand. Also, your instructor should have specified if pens, scratchwork, formula sheets, calculators or dictionaries are permitted. If you’re not sure, ask ahead of time.
  • Speaking of materials, if your exam is open book, organize your resources in advance. Know where to find the most important information so you don’t waste precious exam time searching. 
  • If your COLE exam is proctored, be prepared to have your surroundings visible to the invigilator.

Dos and don’ts for in-person exams

What to do:
  • Double check the date, time and location of your final exam the day before to avoid missing any last-minute room changes.
  • Bring everything you’ll need: invigilators will be checking your student ID card. And of course, make sure not to forget your supplies, like two to three pencils, an eraser, a ruler and even highlighters if you think they'll help.
  • Speaking of supplies, make sure to get the department-approved sticker on your calculator ahead of time so that you can use it on exam day. 

What not to do:

  • Don’t bring electronic devices, notes or other banned items in your pockets. Instead, leave these in your backpack turned off or in your locker if you have one.
  • Seems obvious, but don’t talk to your peers during the exam. If you have a question for your teacher or the invigilators, raise your hand, let them come over to you and speak to them in a whisper.
  • Don't rip or damage the exam booklet — this counts as an offence (see below). Even if you've decided to restart your essay or you want to brainstorm, make sure not to rip any pages out.

Whether it’s an in-person or online exam, it’s important to know the rules and regulations surrounding exams, particularly the Academic Code of Conduct. Understanding these will save you a lot of stress. Pay close attention to Section III: Offences, which outlines infractions to avoid.

PRO tip: it’s better to be too early than too late. Be sure to show up at least 30 minutes in advance. Whether it’s to test your computer or anticipate any travel delays or room changes, always show up early.

Finally, let go of any tension from the day by exploring Concordia’s Zen Den activities. We recommend Danc’Zen to shake things up and quiet your mind!

Find out more about online final exams by visiting the Concordia Exams web page.

Learn more about the resources at Concordia’s Student Success Centre.

Check out more tips from the Welcome Crew Mentors.

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