It’s that time of the year again.
Unfortunately there’s no sugar coating it. It doesn’t matter what year you’re in, the exam stress is real. Even though you’ve been taking exams for years, somehow you’re still not quite sure how best to learn a whole module a week before the exam, or revise for that lecture you’ve only been to twice in the last six weeks.
Well, we probably can’t give you any advice you haven’t heard before, but here’s a reminder:
Step 1: Panic.
There’s no use denying it, you’re probably in the midst of a crisis. You’ve left everything to the last minute (again) and suddenly you’re out of time. Our best advice? Let yourself panic, sometimes you need that fear to get yourself going.
Step 2: Find a space to study.
Whether it’s the library, your bedroom or a café, find somewhere to sit down and set up for the day. You know yourself best, maybe you need complete silence or maybe it’s the quiet background chatter of a coffee shop. Try studying alone or with friends and work out what’s best for you and stick to it.
Step 3: Here’s the hard part.
Now you actually need to study. Motivation is probably low and there’s a hundred other far more interesting things you could be doing, but the reality is you need to buckle down and get your life together. Make those mind maps, colour code your flash cards, write perfect answers to past papers, read through your lecture notes and do the wider reading you’ve been putting off all year.
Step 4: Reward yourself.
You’ve done some work, made at least a little progress and now you need a break. That doesn’t mean you get to take the next three days off just because you made some notes from a textbook though! Make yourself something nice for dinner, watch an episode of whatever you’re in the middle of on Netflix, or maybe go and have a relaxed evening with your friends. Give your brain a break from revision before you start all over again tomorrow.
Step 5: Don’t doubt yourself.
It sounds cheesy, but don’t be negative. Every time you say “I’ll never understand this” the more likely it is that you’ll just give up. You have to stay positive even in the face of the exam you’ve been dreading all year. Believe in yourself! You’ve made it this far, there’s no point giving up now so you might as well push through until the end.
There’s no guarantee these five steps will work for you; you might get stuck at the panic stage, or maybe you just can’t stop doubting yourself. If this is the case, make use of your tutor, your lecturers and the wellbeing services at your university: they’re there to help you. Ultimately, all you can do is your best and no one can ask for anything more than that.
Text by Holly Butteriss, photo by Kristiana Vasarina