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For every single piece on the academic chessboard, December not only comes with a more frequent consumption of flu-pills & oranges, it is also accompanied by a peculiar academic entity – exams. While examinations at Imperial are dressed in a wide set of customs; group-assignments, presentations, quizzes, there is usually a cluster of written exams post-Christmas.

Preparing for exams entails many transformations for many; less sleep, paradoxically enough, more caffeine, less local pubs, and multi-colored pens mutate from being a distant thought at the beginning of the semester to becoming a very dear friend to many. It is also a time during which information (overload), should be boxed, circled and repacked into a Dropbox of the mind, with the valuable functionality of spitting out accurate output when asked for.

During this period, time is of the essence and we have, through the pages of history, seen many tactics to excel at this. Rumor has it that former President Clinton mastered the skill of taking 6-minutes efficient power-naps in his car/mobile castle between meetings. Many students at the Central Library of Imperial College “President” this to the next level, turning the previously mentioned colored-pens and notebooks to pillows of the moment. Another tactic I know some students turn to is to rely on pre-exams interior designing. Namely to attach post-it notes with key concepts/equations/themes on walls in their private chambers, effectively (and without choice), offering a glance at these walls of knowledge at the start and end of each day.

While exam-periods inevitably bring along some tension, it is important to keep in mind that exams are nothing but one division of several assessments during the semester. Another reassuring thought is to recall that the position as a university student implies that an ocean of exams and other assessments have successfully been conquered in the past. Parallel to the notion that everything is not for everyone, one must simply find the individual path to exam success by identifying what works for them. However, I am pretty sure that drawing some conclusions from the sugar pill and the placebo effects experiments could be applied to this context – steering toward exams with confidence will most likely have positive effects.

Merry Christmas!

William is studying our MSc Economics & Strategy for Business programme

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