Tag Archives: exams

Pomodoro Technique. What is it, and why you should use it!

If you are like me, then you struggle A LOT to focus on one thing at a time. This is exactly why the Pomodoro Technique will be perfect for you. I don’t consider myself the best student, not even in the top of my class but I also don’t believe in comparing people, I’m more of a “everyone has different skillsets”, and “everyone can learn whatever they want if they put enough effort” kind of guy. Anyway, I’m already getting off topic (just proving the point that I get distracted easily).

Studying is something that comes in different forms and sizes, some of us just do final exams, some others do home exams and some other do projects and presentations. At the end, everyone puts effort and time into preparing either for the exams or into a project; so, I believe that every student or/and prospective student will find the Pomodoro Technique very useful.

Let me tell you a little bit more about this technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, where the idea is to use a timer to break down a task into work intervals separated by short breaks, that is essentially what it is. Now, to do it properly there are some objectives to accomplish.

Pomodoro Technique StudyingCredits: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

#1 Task to be done.

The first thing is to find out is what is the task to be performed; it can be very simple like answering emails, to something complex like working on your master’s thesis. It really doesn’t matter what is the task, what matters is that it’s something that deserves your full, undivided attention.

#2 Set the pomodoro.

Set your timer to 25 minutes (some people do it with 30 minutes, even 35 minutes), define what you want to accomplish, and start working. The important part here is focusing in your goal without getting distracted, whether it’s a friend calling you for a beer, a Instagram notification, or the sudden need to watch videos about cats in costumes (been there, done that), many distracting thoughts and events come up when you’re at work.

#3 Work until it rings.

This one is pretty much straight forward. Work EXCLUSIVELY in your task until the time runs out. Spend some time doing a pre-study, or a recap and some time to do a review of the work you’ve done.

Credits: Giphy.

#4 Register your pomodoro.

Once the pomodoro ends, write a checkmark in a notebook, or a piece of paper to keep track of the time you spent on a specific task. This will help you to calculate in the future the amount of time that it takes to finish the task in question, and at the same time it will be easier to keep track of the time dedicated exclusively to work.

 #5 Take a break.

Grab a coffee, stretch your legs, go for a short walk or whatever you want to clear your mind. The idea of the pomodoro technique is to work in cycles, and between each cycle take a short break of 4-6 minutes. Your brain will thank you later.

#6 Set your timer. Work. Register. Repeat.

After 4 pomodoros the idea is to take a longer break (I like to go outside and walk for a while), 20-30 minutes is perfect for your brain to assimilate the newly acquired information and to have time to rest for the next cycle of pomodoros.

Credits: Maskot/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

So far it has worked for me, even though sometimes is hard not to get distracted. Let me know what you guys think about this technique in the comments.


How exams work in Chalmers?

Let me begin with the fact that I hate exams. I get nervous, stressed and my mind goes blank as soon as I read the first word written in the exam. In Chalmers exams are slightly different (Sweden vs. Mexico), now that exam week is just around the corner I thought it would be a good idea to write a guide/list on how exams work:

This is intended to be a general informative guide to illustrate some things you should know before taking an exam.

1) Register for exams.

You need to sign-up for taking the exam, this can be done thorugh the Student Portal (“Studentportalen”). Each and every student needs to register in order to present the exam, the registration portal usually opens at least four weeks before and closes about two weeks befor the exam week (week 43, Swedes use week numbers don’t ask me why).

Sing-up for exams

2) Anonymous examinations.

Examinations at Chalmers are anonymous. The student’s personal information stays unknow and may not be revealed on the answer sheets. The main reason behind this is to protect the students from being graded inequitable, so the examiner will grade in the same way the people he/she likes and the ones he/she dislikes. Oral examinations are not protected by anonymity (this would be weird, like when news channels are interviewing someone and they distort the subject’s voice and blurry the image).

3) Aids permitted.

Pencils, erasers, rulers and dictionaries (but not electronic ones, just the heavy ones that no one has) are authorized at all examinations. Depending on the examinations different aids are permited, in my program we are allowed to use a calculator, but just the ones approved by Chalmers. Such a calculator may not be capable of drawing graphs. The approved calculators for the academic year are: Casio FX82…, Texas TI30…, Sharp ELW531…(the first part of the type designation). I have a Casio FX82ES PLUS in case you were wondering.
Plumas, lapicero, goma y calculadora

4) During the examination.

Long story short story, be prepared to show a valid photo identification card, as well as your membership card in the Student Union otherwise you can’t take the exam. Make sure to write all your information in every answer sheet, this includes your anonymous code, course code, and the page number. Another thing to remember is to order your questions and pages in the order which they were given and not in the order you made them. Sometimes multiple persons grade your exam, thats why every answer should be on a different answer sheet, so they can split the exam and review it at the same time.

Interesting fact, you are allowed to bring snacks to the examination room, except nuts because of allergy reason (they don’t want people dying in the middle of the exam)

5) Taking breaks during the exam.

During the first hour of the exam you are not allowed to leave the room. After this time, you may take one or two short breaks to fika or just visit the toilet. Although smoking breaks are not permitted during the examination, it takes a lot of time to go outside have a cigarette and return.
Credits: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

6) Complete the exam on time.

This one is pretty much straight forward, but I think its worth to mention. The exam supervisor will announce when only 15 and 5 minutes remain until the end of the examination. At that point, first you must have finished your exam, otherwise you are screwed, then you need to check that you have written your anonymous code and numbered each page.

7) Taking the exam all over again.

If you fail an examination (let’s hope this is not your case), you will be allowed to re-take it again the next exam period. There are multiple dates throughout the academic year.

8) Examiation results.

After a waiting period of 15 working days you will recieve your results by e-mail as well as through the Student Portal.
so close

9) Students with disabilities

Chalmers takes into consideretion everyone, even when it comes to presenting an exam. Thereby students with a disability may be granted extended examination hours. All students with special needs will take their exams in rooms dedicated to this purpose and are monitored by a supervisor. Again this all depends on the kind of disability and on the examination type.

10) Cheating

It doesn’t matter if you try or if you succeed, for Chalmers any and all attempts at cheating are taking very seriously. You yourself have chosen your programme, so it makes sense that you master a minimum knowledge that may be helpful to your future career. Any suspicios of cheating will grant you a one way ticket to the disciplinary board.

you can do it

So now you know the basics, good luck on your exams and don’t be stressed about it, it’s just a piece of paper with questions.

Thinking about exams in Sweden.

As I literally finished my statistics and research methods exam about an hour ago, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write the structure of the Swedish exam system and some tips I’ve picked up.

One step at a time…

At my university (Karolinska Institutet) exams only occur at the end of a particular course. So you’ll generally spend between 3-8 weeks studying a particular module or course and then have the exam in the last week to complete it. Personally this works really well for me, I like to treat each exam as a hurdle and once I’ve jumped it you can move onto the next, without stressing too much about other courses you need to study for. However, this does mean you can have a bunch of exams in a short space of time depending on the length of separate courses. Today was my second exam in 5 weeks and I have the next one in 3 weeks time.

Every university has different exam schedule – for example, your programme may have an ‘exam period’ every two months where multiple courses are examined. You may want to bare this in mind when thinking about applying to different courses and institutions within Sweden – how does this suit your learning style?

Do you like learning lots of different subjects at once?

Or would you rather concentrate on one thing at a time?

Do you mind having lots of exams spaced throughout the year?

If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try, try, try, try again. Yes, in Sweden you get 6 (yes, SIX) attempts to pass an exam – 3 each academic year. This does take the pressure off somewhat but often a first time failure means you won’t be able to graduate with distinction. Plus, you’ll have to retake the exam later in the year when you may have forgotten certain details from the course.

There are some variations to the repeated attempts rule, so check with each programme, but generally its pretty lenient compared to most international education systems.

Questions, credits and grades…

Essentially every course will be slightly different to the last. Exams generally range from 2-5 hours, papers can be constructed of open questions and multiple choice questions. Most Swedish schools use different styles of examination to test varying aspects of a course. For example, you may have an open book take home exam, online exams, oral exams and written exams all mixed within the same programme. Its just useful to bare in mind when applying – how will I be examined? And will it suit my revision strategy?

So far my exams have been a mix of open written questions and multiple choice questions. Within each course as well we have compulsory group workshops or assignments to complete with minimum ‘pass’.

Sweden uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) so each course is allocated a number of credits depending on its detail, duration and intensity. Dena has written a great guide regarding the differences in grading here.