The way to take care of your body during finals season is pretty much the same as during flu season. Make sure to eat proper meals, get enough sleep and to stay hydrated as you hit the books! Try not to drink too much coffee, caffeine is NOT a substitute for proper rest. Too much caffeine can make you feel irritable, anxious, or even jittery, which is exactly what you wouldn’t want during finals season when it is imperative to stay calm and focused. You might even experience headaches, dehydration, and insomnia if you overdose on caffeine, which definitely doesn’t outweigh the extra hours of staying awake. Fruits and nuts are a much better source of energy!
If you happen to pull an all-nighter (definitely not recommended!), do not chug caffeine the next day, but eat fruits and drink lots of water instead. Catch cat-naps throughout the day of no more than 3 hours long, and sleep at a more typical sleeping hour the following night to recharge.
2. Take breaks (but be disciplined!)
Breaks are necessary to prevent exhaustion while studying, but sometimes they can unintentionally run longer than the actual revision. Set a timer for your breaks and keep to it!
Personally, I take 10 minute breaks every hour or so. During these breaks, I like to get up and walk around a little, grab a snack, or sometimes just close my eyes and rest for a while. Just try to avoid the temptations of social media and Netflix. Scrolling through your feed or starting a new episode is going to make it very difficult for you to keep your breaks short!
3. Work consistently and be prepared!
Surviving exam season also depends on what you do before it. Consistent work throughout the semester can significantly reduce the gaps you need to fill in during revision week and remove a lot of pressure. It can be as simple as doing your readings and paying attention in class. It is important to prepare for your classes to avoid piling up content that you do not understand, and so do as much of your readings as possible! This consistent preparation means that you will understand more content and make your pre-exam revision easier. Do not leave all the work to that one final precious reading week before exams!
Where to study in SMU?
SMU has spaces to study all over the campus and these are open to all students no matter which faculty you’re from! Here are some studying spots:
1. SOE/SOSS Fishtank
This studying spot is on the ground level of SOE/SOSS, is commonly referred to as the ‘fishtank’ because of the transparent glass walls. Behind the glass, the Fishtank has good soundproofing and is a conducive place for studying depite overlooking the busy Bras Basah road, if you don’t mind the passer-bys looking in from time to time. On a more exciting note, Ya Kun, Ho Seng Curry Rice Express, Kup and Kook (Korean food!), The Tea Party Express (Western food!), and LiHo are all on the same ground level and perfect for the study time munchies.
2. Li Ka Shing Library and the Main learning commons
The main library probably has more studying spaces than any other building in SMU, with spaces to study on all 5 levels. On levels 2 and 4, there are individual carrels complete with desk lamps for those who prefer to study on their own. (Pro-tip: bring your headphones/earphones or grab a pair of ear plugs at the security counter when you tap in! Even if everyone is studying and not chatting(unlikely), the sound of typing, flipping pages, clicking pens and writing can get quite intrusive. The spacious learning commons on the first floor is open 24/7 with its own dedicated entrance and great for those who wish to study in school even late into the night and weekends, but be sure to take a break and remember to go home! The library is packed with study spots, but it is also very popular, so it’s best to go really early if you want to snatch a spot during exam season[RJ1] . (Spots usually get taken up by 9.30 am during peak mugging period!)
3. Kwa Geok Choo Law Library and Learning commons
Popular with the SOL students for obvious reasons, the new Kwa Geok Choo library has study spaces and even its own 24/7 learning commons. Much smaller than the main learning commons, it is located outside the library itself and on the third floor of the new SOL building. There are individual carrels in the learning commons, as well as on level 4 and 5 of the Kwa Geok Choo Law library. Do remember to bring an umbrella when you visit SOL since it is only accessible on street level, or borrow one of the umbrellas available for going between SOL and SOB and return it at the drop-off point in SOB! These umbrellas are meant only for going between SOL and SOB and can be found in a box a few steps from the security post (ask if you can’t find them!). Follow the instructions to scan the QR code and log in, then drop off the umbrella and follow the instructions to return the umbrella at the other school!
If you can’t get a spot at these places, the concourse and schools have benches and tables that you can snag for a study session. Better yet, grab a friend (or a few) and book a GSR in advance for a group study session.
Where you can unwind
When you need a break from all the cramming and stress, try visiting these places:
1. Cozy Haven
Run by the SMU Peer Helpers, this is room is tucked away in the Mrs Wong Kwok Leong Student Wellness Centre (down the corridor next to the FRANK Outlet on the concourse) and is a place for students to de-stress. There are massage chairs, magazines and books, even board and video games for when you really need that break.
2. The Basement
The Basement is run by the SMUSA (SMU students association) and is a comfortable lounge where you can come to relax. Complete with billiard tables for the hustlers among us, why not grab a friend and try your hand? Or you can simply relax on the many sofas and bean bags and read something other than your notes or tutorials for a change.
Who you can talk to when you need to relieve stress:
1. Peer helpers/ Wellness centre
The peer helpers and counsellors at the Wellness centre are always willing to lend an ear. Counselling information or contacts from students who seek counselling do not appear on their records, and all information about clients is kept strictly confidential.
2. A trusted friend or family member
Sometimes sharing your struggles to those closest to you makes them seem less burdensome. J
All the best in your new journey at SMU, and as you face the exams, always keep in mind that good things (holidays!) are just around the corner.