The Student's Guide To Using Facebook During Exam Time

Scantron IconFor many college students, exams are right around the corner. Late nights, pots of coffee, and piles of textbooks loom on the horizon. There is so much stress around exam time that it’s necessary to give yourself a break every once in a while, and increasingly students are turning to Facebook for a quick diversion between chapters. However, there are some features on Facebook that you’d best avoid or limit – or else you might find yourself sitting in the exam hall calculating the growing time for your freshly planted crop of virtual soybeans rather than answering the question in front of you.

Fit Facebook into your study schedule – don’t arrange your study schedule around Facebook

It may sound a bit silly, but it’s tempting to spend more time on Facebook than studying – especially during peak study periods. If you are faced with three 500 page textbooks, 25 journal articles, and dozens of PowerPoint course notes, the diversions available on Facebook start to look pretty appealing.

If you use a calendar or agenda to parcel out your time, you know that during exam time this comes in even more handy. So why not include Facebook on there? Block out ten minutes here, half an hour there when you think you’ll need a breather during study time. This will do two things: one, you will be aware of how much time you are “allowed” to spend on Facebook, and you will be less likely to go over the scheduled time and eat into your studying; and two, you can see exactly how much time you’re spending on Facebook each day, and try to cut it back a little.

Creating a study schedule is generally a good idea for any student during exams, and by incorporating Facebook into it, you are giving yourself a break every now and then, but keeping the focus on school, not status updates.

Avoid the big time-sinks on Facebook

This one can be tricky. Even if you’re got a nicely color-coded calendar with little bits of Facebook time here and there in between studying, there’s nothing preventing you from going overboard with some of the more notoriously time-consumers. There are some activities you should try to avoid altogether on Facebook if you’re studying for exams, or else you might suddenly find yourself 2 hours in to what was originally supposed to be a ten minute study break.

First, there are the games. On the surface, Facebook games might seem like a great way to give your mind a little break. A quick and easy distraction. However, as we all know, “games” does no go far enough to describe the many real-time, social, achievement-based applications on Facebook. Now, you might be the type of person who can just leave a field of crops half harvested when it’s time to go back to studying, but most people can’t. Even if you tell yourself you’ll only spend ten minutes decorating your pet’s house or doing maintenance on your farm, chances are you’ll be sucked in and without realizing it ten minutes will become thirty minutes… which becomes an hour…

It’s not to say that you shouldn’t play Facebook games during your study breaks. Just be aware that some games, while they may be “casual” in spirit, have that extra quality that makes it difficult to turn away from. If you are absolutely determined to continue to work your way to mob king or queen while exams are going on, just be aware of how much time you spend on Facebook trying to reach this achievement. Time away from studying can definitely reduce your stress, but too much time on other things will cause you more stress where it hurts – sitting in front of the exam.

Aside from games, one of the other great time-consumers on Facebook can be the photos. Flipping through photos can seem like a quick couple of clicks, but if there are ten albums with sixty pictures each that you want to catch up on, you’ve got an hour or two of browsing ahead of you. During exams, it can be particularly tempting to look through photos of your friends out on the town, wistfully wishing you were there with them instead of cramming. And all that daydreaming can be a potential pitfall if it eats into your study time. So when looking through pictures, try to limit yourself to just a handful from each album or tell yourself you’ll save it all for when exams are finished. If you absolutely must browse all 300 photos on four friends’ profiles of the night before, just make sure you’re aware of the time and are willing to make it up later, if necessary.

Use Facebook as a tool to help you study, not only as a distraction

Everyone needs a stress reliever, and browsing Facebook’s news feeds or playing a short game can do just that. But Facebook can also be used in a more constructive way. There are several ways you can use Facebook not only as a diversion from studying, but as a way to improve your studying and decrease school-related stress as well.

For starters, why not check out our post on educational application on Facebook. If you have a philosophy exam coming up, the Philosopher + Philosophy app is a great way to get background information on the world’s greatest thinkers. And the Veechi app let’s you explore your classes, even looking up the average final grade given out in past years. This may or may not give you confidence going into the exam, so use this information wisely.

If you have fellow classmates on Facebook, you can start a study group to help each other understand course material. Working with others is always a great way to determine what you know and what you need to know. You will not only hear alternative viewpoints on the course from fellow students, but you can also explain the material you’re most confident with to really solidify it in your mind. Watch out for academic misconduct though – don’t engage in any activity that is dishonest or borders on cheating. Study groups in person have a well-defined structure, but Facebook study groups are a relatively new phenomenon and some schools are struggling with their legitimacy. If you are considering starting a Facebook Group related to a particular course, it is always a good idea to check with your professor or school administration before going ahead with it.

You can also use Facebook to connect to fellow students on a more casual level. Sometimes all you need in between chapters is to vent to someone who understands the stress you’re under. Go ahead, send a friend or classmate a message about what you are confident with and what’s giving you a headache in a particular course – chances are, they are going through something similar. Just talking out your stress can be a great stress reliever in itself, and Facebook is a quick and easy way to reach out to others in this way. Just be prepared to not only share your frustrations with your fellow student, but to hear some in return.

By using Facebook to give yourself a break during exam time, you will feel refreshed and renewed when you go back to hitting the books. Just be sure that you prioritize studying over Facebook (at least during exams!) and that you are aware of how you’re spending your time online in general. Facebook is a wonderful way to relieve stress while studying if you use it effectively. Good luck on those finals!