How to survive exam season
At university campuses across the country, many students will be starting to worry about their upcoming exams. So just in case wearing your lucky pants might not be enough to get you the mark you need, here are some top revision tips to help you plan for and get through the dreaded exam period.
Draw up a revision timetable
This isn’t an excuse to spend hours creating a complex spreadsheet that NASA would be proud of and sadly there are no prizes for the prettiest and best coloured timetable either. It is important to plan your time and create a realistic revision timetable that you can stick to. Research shows that shorter spells of time revising work best in order to stop your concentration from flagging. Mix up the order you study subjects in and don’t spend long periods on one subject at a time. It’s a good idea to start with your least favourite subject to get it over and done with.
Short and frequent breaks should be built into your timetable (the key word being short). Make time to also plan for some physical exercise. A walk, a quick jog or just getting some fresh air can help to clear your head. It also helps to get the oxygen flowing which will help to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
Find a quiet space that works for you
Finding somewhere to revise where you can concentrate and study uninterrupted is important. Whether it’s your room in halls or the university library, try and find somewhere comfortable where you won’t get distracted. Turn your phone/ipad off. You may have intended to just quickly check facebook or answer that life or death WhatsApp message, but an hour can quickly pass and you still haven’t done any actual revision.
Rise and shine
Tempting as it is to have a lie-in, getting up and making a start on your revision is a necessary evil. Research shows that you are more likely to stick to your schedule and do the planned work if you start early. Procrastination is your enemy and starting late means you are behind before you have even begun, putting yourself under more pressure. Reward yourself with the knowledge that getting everything done in the day means you can have some time off to relax in the evening.
When I was revising (many, many years ago), one of the best things I did was to put post-it notes highlighting important quotes and facts around my room. I had notes on the mirror, wardrobe, back of the door, anywhere I could stick them. I can still tell you the quote that was on the post-it above my kettle (too much tea making maybe?). Reading them again and again, even subconsciously, helped me to remember them.
Mind-maps can also be useful. Mind-map software is available, but this is one time you do get to enjoy using different coloured pens. Mind-maps help you to store and organise information visually and also encourage you to think creatively. They can makes facts easier to remember due to the colours and images that you use. If they don’t work for you, create your own revision diagrams, flow charts, different coloured paper, whatever works for you. Remember that colourful notes are easier to remember than black and white.
Just reading your notes over and over again may not be the most effective method of revising. Making revision notes can help as writing something down can help you to memorise it. Research shows that repeated testing also helps. Turn your notes into flash/test cards and ask your friends or family to test you. This is also a good excuse to actually get to see other people and talk to other human beings if you’ve been revising in your room all day.
Do some research
Ask if your tutor has any past papers available for you to practice. It may give you a feel for the style and type of question you may be asked.
Make sure you read and double check your exam timetable properly so you know where you need to be and when to avoid any last minute stress. On the day of your exam, make sure you leave plenty of time to get there and set a couple of alarms. The electricity went off on the morning of one of my finals, luckily I had also set an old battery alarm clock as a back-up (it was the 1990’s, don’t judge).
Rest and relaxation
You need to eat well and get plenty of sleep. Getting the balance between studying and having a break is never easy, but if you’ve worked hard all day, a few hours off is important. See your friends, watch a film, eat your favourite snack, try to switch off and relax.
This is easier said than done, but try and manage your stress. Getting yourself worked up into a panic will do you more harm than good. It may feel like everything is resting on your exam results, and I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but the world will not end if your exams don’t go as planned.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling, talk to your tutors, they will want to support you. The Counselling and Wellbeing Service offered at Wrexham Glyndwr University also offers the opportunity to talk in confidence about problems that are concerning you.