Steven Van Gucht’s golden rules for cramming

Steven Van Gucht
31 May 2022 |

As exams season begins, you're probably not looking forward to the stress, the adrenaline rushes and the occasional minor or major panic attack. How do you keep your cool in the coming weeks? We asked our newly elected alumnus of the year. The man who in recent years has proven never to lose his cool: virologist Steven Van Gucht!

  • Create a fixed pattern in your day: make a schedule with enough variety between courses and provide regular moments of relaxation. Both mentally - meet up with your friends and study mates at a fixed time every day to have a good time - and physically: head out into nature for a walk, a bike ride, sports, etc.
  • Pull an all-nighter? Not a good idea, sufficient sleep ensures that you process learned information better.
  • Use as many senses as possible when cramming teaching materials: read out loud, make songs about the study material, smell your papers, etc. This way your memory makes more connections.
  • Break the rut by studying in different rooms or locations.
  • Repetition works to store something in your long-term memory. In the first reading, you try to understand, make schemes and summarize the information. The next time, you look mainly at those schemes and summaries. When I was a student, I alternated. First read course A and make schemes, then read course B, afterwards repetition of course A, then repetition of course B ...
  • Our memory works by making associations. You can remember difficult words by linking them together to something else you know well or by thinking up word games. Make up a story or image to go with the material: your memory will connect the two together, this makes it is easier to recall the material.
  • And something that was not applicable in my time: put that smartphone in a vault far away from your study desk.
Study guidance and advice

Do you suffer from exam stress? Is your study planning not working out? Do you have doubts about your choice of study or are you considering changing programmes? At Ghent University, you are not alone. The university provides an extensive range of study guidance and advice.

Steven Van Gucht is Ghent University alumnus of the year

He has played an incredibly important role in fighting the corona pandemic and makes regular appearances in the media. And on top of that, Steven Van Gucht can now claim the title of the very first ‘Ghent University alumnus of the year’.

Steven Van Gucht: It’s really touching, as I still feel at home at Ghent University. I have so many memories here. I made many friends, met my first love and our son was born here during the final year of my doctorate. So I am genuinely delighted

More info about the celebration and alumni activities

Steven Van Gucht

Read also

Professor shares 14 tips to successfully get through the exams

Professor Martin Valcke is facing his very last exam period after a career spanning many years. As an expert, we asked him for the ultimate tips for you to get through the exam period successfully.


5 tips for writing a top thesis

Writing a bachelor or master's thesis is quite a challenge. Medicine students Emma Coene and Frédéric Claerhoudt are experts by experience and are happy to share some tips to make your thesis a success too.


The second semester has started: are you ready?

The first semester and examination period are over. Time to start the second part of the academic year with a fresh head and perhaps some ambitious plans or new intentions. Are you ready? These students are.

Hanne De Baene

First aid for exam stress: professors share their exam tips

Almost all students experience stress during the exams. Feeling tense or uncertain is perfectly normal. We asked some professors for tips & tricks to get through the exam period.