Exams, pretty sure they were invented by satan, pretty sure I’m the worst human on the planet when it comes to facing them. When approaching exam periods, whether it was GCSE, A-Level or more recently University, my anxiety levels go through the roof. Naturally it is a time to be anxious, however I would be faced with panic attacks I would never normally get, an inability to eat and constant shakes that I couldn’t…well…shake off (no pun intended!). Now I’m not saying exams are the hardest things for people to do, as for some they find other tasks such as coursework much much harder. Plus it’s certainly no life or death situation. However, for many including myself, the idea of not knowing what’s coming and the fact that your grades and thus your qualification lies upon one to three hours of regurgitating knowledge in a silent hall terrifies us. However, compared to A-Level, I am much more composed this year – most of my stress and anxiety this time is down to lack of time to revise as a result of excess hours at work! This meaning I think I’m actually starting to get the hang of this exam thing – bit of a pain though since my final exams ever will be this summer…
So here I am sharing my advice on how I try and ride out the exam season with as little stress as possible and the best grades possible from one exam hating anxiety riddled student to another! (as I assume that’s why you’re here?)
Get yourself a plan:
1. Go grab yourself a pretty diary, planner or notebook.
2. Check your calendar and schedule and see where you have time free/where you need to make time.
3. Allot study time in your book and make it specific. Are you researching to fill your brain with knowledge? Are you revising things you’ve already learned? Are you practicing essay technique or doing past papers?
4. Estimate how long each part of your studying will take, e.g. how many hours/days will you need to revise, how long will you need to practice answering questions etc This is to ensure you start at the right time so you will have enough time to achieve everything.
5. Find what works for you in advance.
6. Get started!
1. Do NOT procrastinate whatever you do – every second counts! Timing yourself and giving yourself a five minute break every so often helps some, with the app ‘procraster’ helping many. I personally allot myself some break time after I have finished a task. Eg completed a summary of a topic, completed an essay plan etc
2. Be comfortable – Make sure you are as comfortable as you can be, whether that is in bed or at a desk, I enjoy both, it depends on how I feel at the time. Wear comfy clothes, have water and snacks to keep you going to. Dehydration is the worst whilst studying.
3. Make sure all the resources you need are around you to save time and keep you at ease.
When you feel like giving up:
1. Remind yourself of why you are doing this. The harder you work now the easier life gets is very true. If you sit back and do nothing and have an easy life as a teenager/young adult, finding a good job and earning a good amount will be harder. Whereas if you work your little socks off now and set yourself up for a good career in the future, you’ll probably find yourself living a comfortable and rewarding life.
2. Even in the short term you’ll most probably have time off afterwards. Then you can kick back relax and do everything you want to do whilst studying but without the guilt 😉
3. YOU CAN DO THIS – You wouldn’t have made it this far through education if you did not have a chance.
Make sure you sleep well:
– Lack of energy and sleep is often what puts us in the worst of moods, I especially find this to be true.
– Yes it is easier said than done, especially when you feel like you cannot stop or shut down your brain, but trying to get as much sleep as possible is the best thing you can do.
– My post here about getting a good nights sleep should help you, all of the tips I give out is what I do on the night of an exam and even on days when I find revising stressful on the whole.
Give yourself some downtime:
– Again this is easier said than done, but I at least gave myself an hour before bed to not revise. However I really advise giving yourself much more time than this, and by planning properly you should be able to.
– Whether it is out socialising or chilling indoors, make sure that the activity you pick is not mentally or physically exhausting. E.g a day at the gym might not be good if you are not resting properly, and blogging probably is not a good idea either if you’ve been staring at books all day.
– Do not feel bad for resting and do not let anyone comment on how you have chosen to spend your time – people around me commenting on how I chose to essentially live throughout this period were the bane of my life, you do you!
It’s the little things:
– Go brew yourself that cup of tea, or even a hot chocolate.
– Those bath bombs you’ve got lying around? Now’s the time.
– Get yourself up, dressed and looking fabulous – I always feel more motivated when I look like I have my life put together 😉
– Dark chocolate is your best friend – best edible mood enhancer.
– Have a shoulder massage – no don’t pay for one, asked a friend or a loved one, I’m very fortunate to have a boyfriend who is actually trained in this department! But my Mum can do a good job too.
– Go on a walk, for me that’s a walk in the woods and countryside as I live on the edge of my town, but a park or even quiet suburbs will do the trick.
– Do the little things that make you, personally happy <3
On the day of the exam:
– I brought in a little pouch, full of little things to keep me going. Some Japanese dark chocolate Kit Kats, a de-stress roll on and a handcream. These little treats went a long way. (the products are in the photo above)
– Eat whatever you want – although a healthy body = a healthy mind, on the day of the exam eating anything you want won’t hurt. You see that coffee shop you don’t normally go too? Go on treat yourself.
– Don’t listen to others, if you want to revise some more last minute, do it! Same if you don’t want to think about the exam until you’re in the room, relax! Do what is best for you.
– Have something nice to look forward to after. Whether that is something as small as a coffee or going out with people, having something nice after will make your outlook less gloomy.
For those of you studying for exams this January or those preparing for summer exams already, I hope this all helped! I know we all cope with things differently and study differently, but I hope that something here would have been of some help to you and that you will ace whatever exams that face you in the future. We can all do it, otherwise we wouldn’t be trying <3