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Taking Exams During Virtual School

My on-post highschool recently returned to virtual instruction. Just in time for midterm exams. Yay.

When I learned about this new predicament that me and the about five hundred other military kids that I attend school with would be in, I was a little bit more nervous than I tried to let on. Okay, a lot more nervous. What if something goes wrong with my technology? What if I am severely underprepared from the lack of in-person learning? What if I fail?

I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that it’s okay, and it will still be okay when exam time comes, because I can handle it. As my exams are very nearly over, and I have survived so far, I would like to give you a few pointers to guide your own virtual-school-exam way. (I know that many people reading this article may have already struggled through online exams this year or last year, but some tips from a student and military kid with similar experiences can’t hurt.)

Pay attention to what you are studying. This is obviously challenging in an environment with many tempting distractions (I both love and hate my phone), but I found that I had forgotten just how distracting things can be when you don’t want to do real work and there is no one to keep you on task. It’s hard, but putting my phone in another room and moving to a quiet space really helped me stay focused and remember more of what I needed to know for my exams. Also, random instrumental music helps me so much with focusing on schoolwork.

Have a system for studying. I try to have the most important topics of my subjects down pat. The little details are important too, and will always come back to bite you on a test because you know you didn’t really study them, but I study those after the major points. This system works for me; it is precise and keeps me focused on the things that will most likely be brought up on an exam. Find a system that works for you.

Keep track of your time. Before my exams started, I scheduled everything. I made sure to keep up with how much time I had left to prepare for each class, and planned appropriately. This is really important, because it kept me from having that feeling of ‘underpreparedness’. Instead of freaking out about how soon the tests were coming up and how little time I had to work, I carved out the time and stuck to my schedule.

This is a big tip: don’t rely on your notes. If a teacher made your exam open note, you will waste time going through what you have written down. For virtual instruction, relying on your notes is even more of a bad idea because a teacher may make you leave your camera on during the test, allowing them to see if you look at your notes. Long story short, take the time to really know what you need to know and rely on your brain. You’ve got this!

These are just a few pointers I could think of. Everyone has different ways of dealing with exams, especially under these special circumstances, and if none of what I recommend helps you, that is perfectly fine. Students are versatile, as are military kids, and we can figure out what will work well for us. I wish good luck and health to everyone this school year, and want you to know that neither midterms or final exams can hold a candle to anything you can accomplish!


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