Taking Care of Yourself During Exam Time

Exam seasons are stressful because of the overwhelming workload students are given, and the task of handling multiple subjects/topics at once, meaning the only way to succeed is to push through what seems like never-ending revision. It’s important to not less this stress and workload overpower you, and there are some steps everyone in this position can take to make sure this is never the case!

Do it your way. Schools, teachers, peers etc. may tell you there is one way to revise correctly and that’s the method you need to stick to. For example, you may be looked down upon for simply reading over a textbook because others believe you have to copy the notes out in your own writing for it to go in. This simply isn’t the case. The fact is everyone learns and retains information in a different way, some are visual learners, some need to use their motor skills (e.g. writing), some have to explain everything out loud in order to get what they’re learning into their Long-Term-Memory. The main point here is to make sure you revise the way that allows YOU to learn effectively, and don’t feel pressured to adhere to what others are doing. Every minute of revision matters so it’s important you use it effectively.

Avoid brain exhaustion. Brain exhaustion occurs when you’ve taken in too much information/have been taking in information for too long. This is what will make you hit a wall during revision, and give you that feeling that “nothing’s going in”. This again means that you are not effectively using your revision time as the information isn’t being comprehended enough to stay in your memory. The more confusing your work becomes, the more stressed you become. I find this is most effectively managed by splitting your revision sessions into intervals, either in terms of content (e.g. “I’m going to do these 2 topics”) or time (e.g. “I’m going to set my timer for 30 minutes”) and have a break between 15 and 30 minutes inbetween. The length of these intervals should be something you know is achievable and will leave you with enough energy for the next revision session.

Don’t become a recluse. There’s a reason the phrase “all work no play” is looked down upon. Heavy revision periods are stressful enough without the feeling that you are losing your social life and incapable of having fun. This isn’t to say you should be going out every night to see your friends, moreso to dedicate a specific time where you can move away from the workload and have a healthy break. For example, when it comes to the weekend, Saturday morning/early afternoon revising, then you can feel free to go out and have some social time for a few hours later on.

Keep active. Physical exercise is very important during stressful periods. First of all, it takes your mind off of any work while you’re doing it, and it also relieves feelings of tension that deadlines and workloads may be giving you. This removes the emotional exhaustiveness of revision, and makes the whole situation more bearable, heightening your chances of coming out of that exam period successful.

Ignore what other people are saying. It can sometimes give us comfort to speak to others about their revision and how they’re handling everything. It can be helpful to hear tips and tricks that they’ve discovered, and they may want to hear yours. But speaking about the progress you’re making with other people can have a negative effect. Hearing how your best friend spent 6 straight hours revising after school, and how they get up 7AM sharp on weekends to go to the library, is not going to be helpful in the slightest. On the other hand, hearing how someone else hasn’t been bothering as they know they can waffle their way through any exam also isn’t going to be of any benefit for you. Feeling you’re doing too much, or too little, are both a negative process, and you shouldn’t change what you do because you’re not meeting the expectations someone else has of themselves. The overall message here is that revision time is about YOU! Doing how much YOU need to do, for how long is right for YOU, and being able to feel YOU are doing everything the best possible way to fit YOUR needs.

Exam periods can drag, so if you’re feeling exhausted, overworked, and you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, give these tips a try and stick through it until the very end!