Exam season is upon us again, and it can often be one of the most stressful times of the year. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite tips for beating the exam stress and setting yourself up for exam success!
1. Start early
Now I know that starting revision early is always my intention when it comes to exams, although they do always seem to creep up on me! But I promise if you start revising in plenty of time you will feel a lot less stressed and more prepared to smash those exams! It also prevents you having to cram a couple of days before which is not only the worst way to remember things, but will also leave you stressed right before your exam.
2. Organise yourself
Sometimes it can be really useful to create a revision timetable or at the very least make sure you are aware of exactly what date/time your exams are, the structure of your exams and their length. You can then help yourself by organising the modules/topics you need to cover in your revision so you won’t end up sitting down everyday not knowing where to start!
3. Find the best way of revising for you
When it comes to revision (like most things), there is no “best way” to revise. Everyone learns and remembers things in different ways so it’s important to find a way of studying that works for you. For me, I prefer writing things out, making little revision cards and creating big posters of important topics – everyone is different so just find a revision style that suits you that will help things stick in your brain! This also includes finding a location that is a good environment for you to revise in – I often take my revision to the library/coffee shops for a change of scenery!
4. Revise in a group
Following on from my last point, something you may find useful is to revise with other people. Whether it’s one-on-one or in a group with course mates, it can be great to come up with new ideas to revise. Talking through the content of your exams and things that you are unsure of can often help clarify things and help you remember them for the exam.
5. Take regular breaks
When it comes to revision it’s so important to utilise your time wisely. Sitting down and telling yourself that you are going to revise for 2 hours straight will 9 out of 10 times lead to you getting bored every 15 minutes and ending up getting distracted. Personally, I use the 20/10 rule. I work solidly for 20 minutes, and then I have a 10 minute break to stretch my legs/have a snack/check social media etc. That way I find that I can make the most out of my time and don’t waste it procrastinating! Also, I highly recommend standing up and preferably getting some fresh air during your breaks – this will stop you getting stiff and bored of sitting in the same position and hopefully you’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed and focused!
6. Stay active
During exam season, our activity levels often plummet because all we can focus on is work work work. However, staying active is key to keeping your body and mind healthy during this stressful period. For me, I love getting up early for a gym session as it boosts my energy and gets my day off to a productive start. However, you may find it better to exercise in the middle of the day to break up revision or in the evening to destress after sitting at your desk all day.
Having said that, you don’t always have to do a workout to keep active – just make sure you stand regularly and take frequent walks throughout the day to keep yourself moving. And don’t beat yourself up for not doing exercise – exam time is stressful enough without putting that extra pressure on yourself.
7. Eat well
It is so easy to take a step back from our healthy habits whilst studying for exams – stress can make us under- or over- eat and we often use eating as a way of curing our boredom! My advice is to keep healthy snacks to hand whilst revising and stick to regular mealtimes to keep your concentration and energy levels high so you’ll be less likely to over or under eat!
8. Get plenty of sleep
This is such an important tip and one that is often neglected! Getting enough sleep can ensure that you are productive with revision and actually take in what you’ve learnt! Less sleep = low energy = less concentration = less productivity = more stress = unhappy! Make sure you don’t revise too late into the night and take at least an hour before bed to wind down from revision and take your mind off it – quality sleep is just as important as the quantity of your sleep!
9. Take time for yourself
I cannot stress enough how important it is to look after your body and mind during exams to keep your stress levels as low as possible. Taking time for yourself just means doing an activity that is not to do with studying and ensures that you keep doing enjoyable things outside of revision. This could be doing some exercise, going out for lunch with a friend or even something as simple as having a long conversation on the phone, taking the time to cook a nice meal, going for a walk, or listening to music/podcast or catching up with TV (my personal favourites are to procrasti-bake, go for walks or coffee dates with my boyfriend!). Switching off and looking after yourself is so important and will ensure that you stay motivated to keep going!
Relax. Exams are an important part of any qualification or career but they are not the be all and end all. We all have good and bad exams and strengths and weaknesses when it comes to education. Don’t compare yourself to others and stay in your lane – work hard but don’t become demoralised if things don’t go your way. Brush each exam under the carpet and move on to the next.
Your worth as a person is not defined by exam success or failure.
I really hope these tips help, and best of luck!