Getting Ready for Cram Time: A Guest Post

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The following is a guest post from my fellow bloggers at The Outlier Model.  Very excited to be doing a swap with them today!  Check out my post here!  

The Outlier Model is a personal finance and lifestyle blog based on the pillars of “living life a little bit differently”. Based on the belief that success follows those who choose to do something other than the normal, posts at The Outlier Model discuss topics such as budgeting, life hacking, and smart shopping. Using a combination of personal anecdotes, how-to tips and commentary, readers are introduced to the small steps that can help them become something more than average. 

For many colleges and universities, the beginning of December heralds the coming of exam season *Cue ominous music* When you’re busy cramming for exams, it can be easy to let your budget slide for a month – with no time to cook or sleep, take out pizza and double-venti coffees suddenly seem like a good deal! I am grateful that I’m employed and no longer a student this winter, but my two sisters are still students and so are a lot of my friends. What tips could I give them to save money during the exam season?

When I was in school, I absolutely could not study without simultaneously chowing down on snacks. It’s brain food… right? Instead of heading to the nearest college cafeteria, try stocking your home or dorm room study space with edibles. I often kept a variety of snack foods on hand to munch on while working. I have a soft spot for chips, but carrot sticks, nuts and dried fruit are great healthy options as well. And when I did have time to go shopping, I would stock up on easy-to-prepare items, like pastas and stir fry ingredients, so that I wouldn’t be tempted to order takeout. And when exam day does come around, no joke, chewing does actually help you to remember things!

Aside from food, my other major exam related expense was coffee. So good… and so necessary. You might think that it’s cheaper to make it at home. If you’re just counting cents, then it most definitely is. However, if you want to maximize your studying effort, going to a coffee shop can be a great way to refocus yourself. I found that if I studied in the same place for too long, I would lose concentration. It’s particularly easy to get distracted at home, because there are chores to do, TV shows to watch, cats to yell at… the list goes on. I found that for me, Starbucks was actually great for studying because they have free wi-fi, great ambient noise and free refills for card members. Sure it cost me $3 for a coffee… but over several hours and several refills, it’s not so bad. If Starbucks isn’t your thing, taking a travel mug over to the local library works too.

And finally, one of the best ways that I saved money during the exam season was to team up with friends and classmates. Study sessions are a great way to prepare – it’s harder to get distracted by food and coffee when you’re with a bunch of people and talking about coursework. After all, you don’t want to be the one to interrupt a good brainstorming session because your stomach couldn’t handle being empty! My friends and I would usually find a study room with a whiteboard and go crazy writing notes and algorithms out by hand. And when we did get snacks or coffee, we were able to all chip into the costs. Collaborative learning at its best!

I have to admit though, I am quite happy that I don’t have to study this winter. Instead, I intend on drinking coffee for the enjoyment of it, without wondering how much brewed coffee I could safely combine with Redbull.

How long has it been since you’ve had to write an exam? Any college study tips?

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13 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Cram Time: A Guest Post

    1. femmefrugality

      I hear you. I know I’ve been a student several times and had a different experience each time. When I lived in the dorms, a coffee shop might have been a comparatively quiet retreat. As an adult student with my own place, I prefer to work in complete quiet.

      Reply
    2. femmefrugality

      Come to think of it, me, too! Even when my place is “quiet,” I still have the city noise around. I lived in the sticks a few years back and the true, complete quiet really freaked me out.

      Reply
  1. Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy

    I do not miss those endless nights of cramming! Stocking up on heartier foods (whole grain pasta, for instance) made me feel fuller and built endurance to help me to power through. Doing light stretching or quiet walks every couple of hours also helped enormously when my brain became too muddled.

    Reply
  2. canadianbudgetbinder.com

    I just graduated early this year but food was never the top of my list. I will say that going out coffee would have been a BIG mistake as I just love it too much. Sometimes I would study at school but for the most part at home. I never did get into group sessions as I am one who can read it once and tend to remember it or just glance over it. I found the more I fussed the less I cared. I’m happy I’m done and yes drinking coffee for enjoyment is much more enjoyable! Mr.CBB

    Reply
  3. eemusings

    Hmm, oh, about … 3 years?

    I was talking to someone the other day about how long it’s been since we had to write anything substantial out by hand. I have no idea how I would write a 3-hour exam these days.

    Reply
  4. MakintheBacon$

    Ever since I started working for the Federal Government, I feel like I’ve taken so many tests and exams! I have one tues morning. It’s open book, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

    I found it more distracting when I was with a group of people. I ended up taking more breaks and socializing. It was good however when you needed to go over assignments. When I did have my long study days at the library, I would bring an arsenal of food. I even brought a can opener, can of chunky soup and a soup bowl. lol.

    Reply
  5. Matt

    I agree about the change of scenery really helps you concentrate. I found it was true as a student and now as someone who is self-employed. Getting out and spending the $3 is well worth it.

    Reply

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