How to Prepare for Exam Season

It's that time of year again. Time to hunt down the huge chunky textbook you should have been reading throughout the course, attempt - with little success - to translate your illegible lecture notes and invest in a year's supply of coffee. It's the time I like to call the pre-exam freak out. Don't worry, we've all been there. I still have one more year of exams to look forward to but as I'm currently on my Year Abroad, it's the one year I can reflect on my exam experiences with complete rationality. So here are my top ten tips that I either swear by, wish I'd done or have almost definitely stolen from my friends. Take from it what you will!

1. Cut the home visits. It seems a bit harsh but when you go back to university after Easter, it gets all too tempting to go home and curl up in a ball and watch Netflix. I'm not saying cut your family out completely, they can be a lifeline, but unless you know from experience that you study better at home, it's a lot of time wasted travelling.

2. Set yourself goals and rewards. I can't speak for everyone but nothing motivates me more than food and other little treats. It doesn't have to be anything too expensive but it's nice to have something in the back of your mind when you're spending long hours in the library.

3. Allow yourself breaks. As much as you should try and reach your goals, your brain isn't designed to spend hours studying without a break. The key is to split up your revision into manageable chunks, switching up the topics every now and again for some variety. Even if you only schedule in a quick coffee break or a walk around to stretch your legs, it'll help to give your brain a rest.  

4. Limit your social media time. I was the worst at the this as I'm 100% addicted to my phone but last year some of my course friends swore by an app called Forest. Forest is a cute little game where you plant a seed and it grows into a tree over a 30 minute period - but only if you stay off your social media apps. Alternatively you can always put your phone on flight safe mode or on silent. 

5. Invest in stationery. This idea might not be for everyone but I think if you have a nice set of pens, a quirky pad of paper and a few highlighters, you're definitely more likely to want to use them for your notes. Nice stationery doesn't have to be expensive, though, shops like Tiger always have an amazing selection that's really affordable. Colour coding is also a great tip to memorize key topics and vocabulary and I highly recommend this to languages students especially. In summary, if your notes look neat and easily readable, your brain's going to be happy and you're going to feel #prepped.

6. Use your contacts. When it comes to exam season, it's not just what you know but who you know. If you know people in the year above you, why not ask for some advice or even - if you're brave enough - some notes. The chances are they'll have documents still saved on their laptops that can be sent over straight away. This obviously isn't a substitute for your own notes but it can be great to have a read over a fresh perspective you might not have thought about.

7. Schedule group revision sessions. If you have a few friends doing the same modules as you, why not book a room and go through some ideas and identify any weaknesses you have in the syllabus. If you're all struggling with the same topic, it's going to A. make you feel better and B. be a lot easier to divide up the research. Revision doesn't have to be a lonely laborious task, you should share opinions, test each other and it will help you decide which areas you need to focus your revision on. I will warn you, however, that group revision sessions can often get a bit too relaxed and chatty so make sure you pick people you know have a good study / chat balance. 

8. Learn when to say no. I will be the first to admit that I went out a couple of times in the run-up to exams and I don't regret that for a minute but you do have to learn the right time to say no to invitations. On one hand I think it can be motivating to have an event to look forward to and you might work harder a few days before it but sometimes you have to decide if you can really spare the time. 

9. Buy all the frozen food. I might be alone in thinking this but food shopping (other than snacks) was pretty much the last thing on my mind during exam season last year. I never felt in the mood to cook anything too adventurous, probably because most of my brain power was drained at the library. I heavily relied on frozen vegetables, frozen fish and even frozen fresh pasta because it's convenient, you don't have to worry about sell-by dates and you can relax or study while it's cooking away. Win win win.

10. Utilise your commute. If you live on campus this tip is totally irrelevant but if you take the bus or train to the library, there's always an opportunity to go over some vocab, key words or even read some secondary literature. I didn't do this often enough but sometimes it helps to bring your tablet or iPad with you on your journey with pre-downloaded articles or vocab tests so you don't rely on WiFi. For languages students you could even listen to some foreign music or a foreign AudioBook if you're feeling extra studious.

I hope you enjoyed this post. The most important thing is to remember that although exams are important they're not worth suffering from stress! If you'd like me to write a post about how to destress during exam season, please let me know. Do you have any exam tips to share?


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