Preparing for final exams as a neurodivergent adult

Final exams can be challenging for anyone. For neurodivergent adults who often struggle with additional challenges such as attention, information processing, memory, and more, exams can be especially difficult. Luckily, with some preparation and strategies, neurodivergent adults can give themselves the best opportunity to succeed!  

Are you preparing for upcoming exams? Try the following tips to help you prepare. 

Create a visual study schedule to break down your preparation, study time, and breaks into manageable steps. Use a daily, weekly, and monthly calendar to help you visualize macro and micro scheduling.

Create a study environment that minimizes distractions or sensory overload. Find a quiet place to study, use noise-cancelling headphones or atmospheric music, and prepare everything you need to stay focused, including water, fidgets, snacks, etc.

Identify your learning style and tailor your study techniques to match. If you’re a visual learner, create mind maps or diagrams to help you remember key concepts. If you’re an auditory learner, record yourself reading your notes. You can then listen to them while you’re commuting or exercising. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, use hand movements and connect them to important information.

Use multi-sensory techniques to engage different parts of your brain and to improve memory. Use different colours, textures, soundscapes, or scents to stimulate your senses. Use an essential oil roll-on or smell a strong coffee during study and exams to reignite your memory.

Create a study guide that breaks down complex concepts. Break concepts down into manageable chunks. Use diagrams or visual aids to help you understand how ideas fit together and contribute to the bigger picture. Flash cards with key terms are a great way to digest these smaller concepts.

Practice active recall to engage with the material you are learning. Quiz yourself, ask someone else to quiz you, or teach someone else the material. These techniques can help improve your memory of the material you are learning. 

Take frequent breaks to improve concentration and avoid burnout. During breaks, do something to relax, recharge, and move your body. Practice mindfulness by going for a walk or listening to your favourite music. Step away entirely from the study session. 

There are many ways to set yourself up for success. These tips can help you on your way to feeling good about your ability to complete your exams. Do not forget to contact your institution’s accessibility centre for accommodations!   

You may still need help developing good study habits, have concerns about your upcoming exams, or want someone to help you access accommodations. Check out our RISE Now program for adults! LDS can help you prepare for exams, assignments, and coursework and build long-lasting confidence. 

– Becky Bishop, Case Manager and Lead Instructor

LDS is a community of dedicated professionals that write collaboratively. We recognize the contribution of unnamed team members for their wisdom and input.