Top Tips On How to Survive May Exams

The Easter holidays are coming to a close and May exams are nearly upon us. It’s time to hop on the coach and head back to Exeter for a month of flashcards and past papers. But May exams, whilst probably still a little annoying, don’t have to be a stress-fest. Here are my top tips on surviving (and, dare I say it, thriving?) in exam season. 


1) Move 

Sitting at your desk revising for hours on end might feel productive, but it’s exhausting, and actually not even that effective. It’s much better to break up your revision into short twenty to thirty-minute slots, making time to move a little in between. This can be a quick hop to the kitchen to brew a fresh cup of tea, or a longer stroll along the Quayside or high street. I find it’s particularly helpful to go for a walk after longer sessions, like after completing a past paper; it gives me time to mull over how I did, but also time to clear my head. I also always walk to and from my exams. Moving is good for your mood and mind, and shouldn’t be neglected in exam season. 

  The Lalabackpack Girl Walking Her Campus Media


2) Meditate 

I get very mixed reactions when I recommend meditation to people, some people are open to it, others seem unsure whether to respond with an eye roll or a giggle, but I genuinely think that everyone should give meditation a go. Meditation is a lot easier and less intense than people seem to think; you don’t have to sit in silence for hours, in fact, most meditation sessions I do are just ten minutes long. It’s about shutting your eyes and focusing in on your senses, releasing all the tension in your body from head to toe. I use an app on my phone called Simple Habit, it’s full to the brim of all sorts of guided meditation sessions that are great if you’re new to meditation and mindfulness. Everyone is different and not everybody will find meditation useful, just like some people love CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) whilst others (like me) struggle to engage with it, but all of these things are worth trying; how else are you going to find what works for you? 


3) Plan your summer 

It’s important to remind yourself that you have a life outside of university, and that exams aren’t the climax of your life. Looking ahead to your break and planning out how you’re going to fill those glorious summer months is a great way to take your mind off present stresses and gives you something to look forward to as you plough through the month. Maybe head to the shops to find some new clothes for the beach, or find yourself a little project to work on over the summer (I’m going to face my fear of driving on the motorway!).  

water in hands Brodie Vissers at Burst


4) Talk (about something other than university) 

Whether you’re a hardcore extrovert or not, we all need a little social interaction from time to time. The problem with May is all anyone wants to talk about is exams, the one thing you’re trying to take your mind off of. Try sparking up a conversation with your flatmates about their plans for after exams, or what they’re family are up to back home. 

Three women talking and laughing on the wooden bench next to the tulip flower field Priscilla Du Preez

All that being said, if exams are stressing you out, you shouldn’t bottle that up. Talking to someone you trust is a great way to rationalise your anxieties and feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable chatting to someone face to face, remember you can always ring Samaritans on 116 123, or Nightline at the University from 8pm on 01392724000.  


5) Find a pre-exam ritual 

Never underestimate the power of a good routine! Bringing some order to your life during exam season is a great way to feel more in-control. Some make pancakes, some go for a jog, I even had a friend at school who ate a Snickers before every exam. But I recommend...ginger shots! I don’t drink caffeine before exams because the highs and lows can make for an uncomfortable couple of hours in the exam hall, but I find a ginger shot is a great way to feel cleansed and alert before an exam. They’re easy to get your hands on too- just pop into Pret in the Forum before your exam starts!  


Now I can’t promise any of these tips will guarantee you that 1st, but hopefully they’ll make May that little bit easier and see you through into the summer, and a very well-deserved break. Good luck!