Cassie is a third-year Commerce student, majoring in Economics and Finance. She is addicted to podcasts and long distance running.
It’s almost swotvac. It’s the time of year when you realise you didn’t understand 75% of the content this semester, you stopped doing your tutorial work in week 3, and you never actually went back and watched those 12 lectures you skipped. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips on how to survive swotvac.
If you can, avoid the library
When people are studying and stressed, and they’ve been in the library for 12 hours every day for the last week, things get gross. If you can, avoid the library because you will get sick, you will feel disgusting all day, and you will not be able to get up and go to the toilet because either the librarians will come and take your stuff away or some ninja student will steal your seat.
If you must go to the library, do not arrive between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm because you will waste half your day trying to find a seat
Anyone who has lined up to get into the Law Library or Giblin Eunson during swotvac knows that it is pure carnage. I’m not kidding – it is the Hunger Games and the scenes are concerning. It is also the only way you will get a seat during swotvac. You either have to arrive really early or really late or you won’t find a seat. You can also book spaces online at https://bookit.unimelb.edu.au/ but get in early because reservations fill up fast!
Find a good café, and get a loyalty card
You will be drinking a minimum of two coffees a day. Loyalty cards where the 10th coffee is free seriously deliver the goods in swotvac.
Stock up on healthy snack foods
That’s right, healthy. I’m talking about good fats. Nuts, avocado, sandwiches and fruit. Do not eat sugar all day or try to survive on coffee; you will crash and burn and you will feel absolutely shit. A healthy, well-fed brain will struggle to understand some of the ridiculously difficult things you are studying, and a starving brain will give up.
Make a list and set yourself deadlines
Schedule yourself. Plan what you have to do from the exam date backwards, and put it in a calendar. Then, stick to it. If you finish what you had planned to do that day, take the night off. Seriously this is a golden rule and it is very easy. Just take 15 minutes on the first day of swotvac and make a list.
Get at least one person to study with
You don’t need to sit down and study with them, but find one person per subject, add them on Facebook and annoy them with questions. The likelihood is that they are also desperate to ask someone else questions and you’ll help each other out. It also helps to have someone to vent to about how f*cked up the practice exams are.
Have scheduled breaks
At the start of each study day, plan out little reward breaks. Like, when you finish a practice exam, watch EllenTube for half an hour. These are really important and they’ll make you less likely to procrastinate later. Little goals are good, and you deserve it.
Don’t let the first few days get you down
When you suddenly realise that you don’t understand half of the content, don’t panic. That is what swotvac is for. All non-first year students will tell you that it is totally normal to teach yourself a lot of the course in swotvac.
You will have a breakdown, it is okay
Every swotvac you will have one breakdown around the time when you do your first practice exam and you fail. You will call your mum or your best friend and you will cry. This is normal. It is okay. Cry it out, go eat a big bowl of pasta, take the night off and get back to it tomorrow. Everyone has this and it is totally normal.
‘Do Not Disturb’ is your friend
If you’re on a roll, use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function on your phone. It won’t notify you when people contact you unless you go over and pick it up. Procrastinating is so easy in swotvac and minimising your distractions can help a lot. Another useful procrastination reductions method, particularly for essay writing, is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between. You can read more about how it works and its benefits here.
Some students brag that they sleep four hours a night and still smash all their exams. You are not that person. It doesn’t matter how well you function on four hours of sleep, it’s scientifically proven that everyone functions better on 7-8.
You don’t need to go to the gym everyday day but get outside and get some fresh air. You need to take care of your body in this time. It will make you more productive and reduce the frequency of swotvac breakdowns.
If you don’t get something, your friends don’t know and your online tutor is confusing you (it can do more harm than good), go to a consultation
Just go. Get in line with your planned question. Have work to do while you wait, because you will be waiting. 2 minutes with a tutor can save you hours of torture while you try to figure it out yourself. It’s also a great place to meet other students so you can help one another, and often they’ll ask about something you don’t get either and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
If you need a break, take a break
I thoroughly believe that when you hit a wall, just come back to it later and go do something else. You will have days in swotvac where you get nowhere. Don’t waste your time and end up in a pool of lecture slides and tears. Take the afternoon off. Take the night off. If you feel good enough, take the day off. When your brain cracks the shits, just let it have a little rest.
Plan a gift to yourself when your exams are over
Studying sucks. Treat yo’ self.