It’s exam season. Here’s some tips from students on how to stay motivated.
It’s crunch time: final exams.
How do these four UBC Sauder students approach final exams? Benjamin Paradis, Melina Amirsharafi, Alex Canning-Choi and Rhea Gupta say it takes balance, perspective and focus. Ready, set, study!
1. Take your pick: secure your study space
Having completed an undergraduate degree in engineering, UBC Master of Business Administration (MBA) student Alex Canning-Choi knows the impact that his environment has on an effective study session.
For those seeking the perfect balance between a group and silent study space, he recommends his go-to: the private graduate breakout rooms available for students of the Robert H. Lee Graduate School. There are also designated study areas set aside for Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) students like the Bruce R. Birmingham Undergraduate Centre in UBC Sauder’s Henry Angus Building.
“People often forget that we have spaces in our campus that are built specifically to be conducive for studying,” says Canning-Choi. “Booking a room with a few peers where all of you can be productive together is a real motivator to stay on track.”
On the other hand, for UBC BCom students Melina Amirsharafi and Benjamin Paradis, searching for the perfect on-campus study spot isn’t as much of a priority because they prefer to study solo. They both say that staying home in a quiet space helps them focus and avoid procrastination, which in turn gives them more opportunity to spend time with friends and family during exam season.
2. Leverage useful resources
The students recommend leveraging the plethora of resources that the UBC Sauder community has to offer. The best resource, according to Paradis, is professors’ office hours since they provide an opportunity to get to know faculty members on a personal level.
“Our professors are leading researchers and industry experts who have such deep insights from their real-world business experience,” says Paradis. “When you take the initiative to visit office hours, they can give you more preparation strategies, but believe me, you leave with so much more advice than just that!”
When Gupta began the UBC Master of Business Analytics (MBAN) program, she recognized that the technical components had a steep learning curve. As President of the MBAN Student Society, she considered how they could use their diverse educational and professional strengths to support each other.
“Sometimes we all need external support, so I initiated a mentorship network for my cohort,” says Gupta. “We meet every Friday to clear any doubts we have with course content, share resources, and learn from each other.”
For BCom students, the Commerce Undergraduate Society is another valuable source of information and avenue of preparation.
“As always, the Commerce Undergraduate Society has extensive academic resources like course planning, peer tutoring services, and mentorship on our website,” says Amirsharafi, Vice President Academic Affairs for the Commerce Undergraduate Society. “We are here to support you, especially during exam season.”
3. Non-negotiables: sleep and self-care
Though they have their personal favourites when it comes to study styles and resources, all four students agree on the importance of an eight-hour sleep and self-care during exam season.
“My approach is always to be less focused on cramming the content the night before but more on ensuring I am in a positive headspace,” says Canning-Choi. “How rested I am almost always translates to my performance during an exam.”
Self-care can look different from person to person. For Gupta, it means not being hard on herself if she needs to rely on a scoop of ice cream for comfort after a long day of studying. While for Amirsharafi, a 10-minute mental health walk to breathe in some fresh air helps her regulate stressful emotions.
“Success in exams is never as straightforward as receiving a 100 per cent result from 100 per cent effort,” says Paradis on prioritizing your mental health. In saying that, no matter how you approach your self-care, making it a priority during exam season can help students avoid burnout.
4. Know your pace
Reflecting on their academic journeys and how their exam-taking approaches have evolved, Paradis, Amirsharafi, Canning-Choi, and Gupta offer a final piece of advice: whether you’re a first-year student writing your first final or upper-year writing your last, understanding and accepting your own pace is key to navigating exam season.
“Everyone has been dealt different cards,” says Amirsharafi. “In those moments, try to appreciate your own unique journey that helped you get this far.”
For more information on resources that offer support during exam season, please visit:
- The Robert H. Lee Graduate School’s individual program sites
- Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) – Complete schedule available on course-specific Canvas pages
- Canaccord Learning Commons (CLC) and David Lam Management Research Library (DLAM)
- CUS Commerce Mentorship Program
- UBC-wide resources:
Please note, if you're studying alone or late at night, you can contact Safewalk to escort you safely to your destination. Campus Security is available 24/7 at 604-822-2222.