I am on a train with unreliable Wi-Fi which means I can’t download the next set of lecture slides I need to go through – what a shame. As I can’t revise for the next hour, I thought I’d share a few things I do to stop myself going mad in the approach up to exams. Most people are probably quite a way into studying already, but if you’re struggling then maybe this will help.
You’ll have heard this lots of times – I know – but it’s so important. If you spend all day cramming facts into your brain it’ll overload and you’ll run out of steam very quickly, so let it have a free few minutes at regular intervals. Do some laundry, go for a quick walk, make lunch, watch YouTube; do whatever lets you relax and recharge. Schedule these breaks, otherwise you’ll just keep giving yourself time off whenever you get bored, and suddenly it’ll be dinner time and you’ll have only done half of what you wanted to. Don’t beat yourself up if you do get distracted, just get back on track as soon as you can.
You’re going to run out of energy as you revise – it’s unavoidable. Letting yourself get dehydrated will only make things worse, so keep a bottle of water on the desk with you while you work. It’ll stop your brain from feeling like it’s shrivelling up, and will keep it working at its best to try and take in everything you need it to remember.
As well as drinking enough water, it’s crucial that you keep yourself healthy and happy so you perform as well as possible in your exams. Get some fresh air every day, whether that’s by taking a walk or opening window. Eat well (revision snacks aside) and try to exercise when you have time. Have a stretch every once in a while to counter all the hunching over laptops and books.
It’s not for everyone, but consider revising with a friend or a group. Working together you can get through a lot more outside reading, and you can run things past each other for clarity. As a group you can go through potential exam questions and share ideas; you might come up with things you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
5. Do what suits you
There are countless ways to revise and innumerable amounts of people and articles telling you which one is right. You are completely allowed to ignore them. Revise in a way that suits how your brain works, not how you think you should be doing it – people have always told me to try spider diagrams and colours but I learn by just writing things out in bullet points with black pen. If colours/music/diagrams/silence/interpretive dance/explaining things to others helps you, then that’s what you should do.
I know it’s infinitely easier said than done, but try to keep things in perspective. Exams are important, yes, but they’re not everything, and you can always recover if things don’t go as well as you’d like. The calmer you are, the clearer your head will be when it’s time to throw all your knowledge onto some paper. If you’ve prepared and put in the work, you’ll probably be ok – we all tend to have far too little faith in ourselves.
Good luck to anyone about to sit an exam – just think of that long summer holiday on the other side!