Surviving the exam period – cheaply!

The exam period is a stressful time of year for many students.  There’s massive amounts of studying to do, textbooks to open for the first time, and professors who refuse to provide sample questions on principle (*shakes fist*).  As a returning student, I have found that getting older did not necessarily get rid of my exam habits.  Indeed, I have several bad habits that come up every time I have exams to write:

  1. I drink massive amounts of coffee.
  2. I like to study outside of the house.
  3. I am too lazy/busy to cook.

As a result, I’ve often ended up studying at Starbucks or some other cafe while guzzling coffee and munching on take-out.  It’s bad for the wallet and bad for my waistline!  I’ve tried to redefine some of my studying needs in a way that is more economical:


Coffee keeps me going.  I can try to go without it, but I find that I just end up being less productive.  If I’m at home, I’ll make coffee in the pot.  But I tend to be less productive at home.  There’s always things to do and lots of distractions.  So when you head out of the house in search of coffee, a good way to save a bit of money is to take advantage of free refills at Starbucks.  When you buy your drip coffee with a Starbucks Card, you can get refills for free, as long as it’s on the same visit.  Similarly, while at Blenz, you can get refills of hot water if you order a pot of tea.  Yum!


Find your quiet place

Studying outside of the house is a must-have for me.  I need to focus without the distractions of chores or easy snacks.  Often, my location of choice is Starbucks but you can also find good study spots that don’t require a purchase.  On campus, there are usually lots of student lounges available.  My department, for example, set aside a room in the building for use only by students in my program.  It’s secure, quiet, and has access to a microwave and kettle.  Many other departments offer similar similar amenities.

If you don’t want to go all the way to campus, try your local library.  I found that libraries can often be hectic though, and it is often difficult to leave your stuff safely for any length of time.  As an alternative for myself, I recently discovered that the lounges at the UBC-downtown campus are beautiful, comfortable, and quiet!  Just remember to bring your coffee with you.


Feeeeeeeed me

Chewing helps you to remember facts. It’s scientifically proven! 😉  I often find myself drawn to fast food during exam periods because its comfortable, fast and accessible from campus.  But you don’t necessarily need to eat something to reap the benefits.  Often, chewing gum works just as well.

The more pressing concern is, of course, meals.  It’s easy to get caught up in studying and want to just grab a sandwich from the coffee shop, since you’re there anyways.  While I do treat myself to 1-2 take-out meals during exam period, I find that taking the time OUT of studying to go home and eat lunch or dinner is a great way to take a time-out and relax my brain for an hour.  It usually makes me more productive later in the day when I go back to studying.


Writing finals can be stressful!  How do you get through the exam season with your wallet intact?

Posted in: Minimalism and Frugality

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