Exams are always going to be stressful, there’s no miracle cure for that. But here are some ways of making the revision feel a little easier to manage…
It’s officially exam season. We’re all stressed. We’re all tired. We all spend more time falling asleep over our work in the library than we do sleeping in our actual beds. Now, I’m not about to tell you the secret to relieving all that anxiety and acing your exams whilst barely lifting a finger. As much as it pains me to say it, that secret doesn’t exist (or, if it does, no one ever clued me in.) Revision is horrible, there’s no denying it, but it’s a necessary evil. Here are my tested and approved ways of making it as bearable as possible…
Make a Schedule
And stick to it! Anyone can spend an hour writing out all the different exams they need to study for, planning out their revision into neat little sections, colour coding. But I don’t know about you, but this schedule usually gets pinned proudly onto my wall and then… I ignore entirely. At best, it’s a good way of feeling productive without actually doing anything. But what’s the use of just writing about all the work you’re going to do if you never actually start? Yes, draw up a schedule, make it as pretty as you like, but make it manageable. And then, actually follow it.
I’m probably the worst person to be giving advice on this, because at this point we could probably call procrastination my full time hobby. (I’m actually writing this article to avoid revision). But since I’m well versed in the problems procrastination can cause I think I’m qualified to say – just don’t do it! Turn your phone off (I know its hard but really,) listen to some music without lyrics (because otherwise you just end up singing along) and get it done. I know. It literally feels like the worst thing in the world, but revision lasts a couple of weeks at best; once exams have gone, they’re gone, and if you revised well, you won’t have to think about them again. But if you spent your time procrastinating you might end up resitting, and that’s just counterproductive when you think about it.
Find your space
It might be just me, but I cannot for the life of me study in my student flat. There’s always someone knocking on my door or playing music or setting off a fire alarm. Instead, I find I’m always most productive sat tucked in a corner of the library, headphones in and clutching a huge mug of tea (because libraries are freezing.) Obviously, it’s not going to be the same for everyone, but you’ll find you work better in one space more than anywhere else. Find it, and make the most of it.
Ask for help
So if it’s less the concept of revision and more the actual work you’re struggling with, ask for help! Whether it’s your lecturers, personal tutors or course friends (usually the best if you want a bit of a moan, too) there’s always going to be someone you can go to who can help you when your brain is just totally overloaded. Alternatively, you could turn to a peer mentoring system like Tyfy to get some help from students who have already done the same modules as you. At the minute we’re only available for students at the University of Nottingham Business School, but if you’d like to be able to use the system, fill in this quick survey and we’ll see what we can do (trust me, it’s really handy.)
Look after yourself
Picture the scene: its 10 pm, the bright library lights are making the dark circles under your eyes painfully obvious, empty coffee cups litter the floor around you and you’re so tired you’ve forgotten how to spell your own name. It’s familiar right? Familiar, but not exactly healthy. As tempting as it is to let caffeine be your only form of sustenance and just speed through everything, it won’t help your work (in the long term at least) and it certainly won’t help your health. Take time to eat proper meals, go to sleep at a not-too-ridiculous time and drink plenty of water. It’ll actually help you focus better too.
Take a break
(I tried so hard to think of a Ross and Rachel joke, but I’ll save us all the embarrassment.) The point is, just because exams are close, it doesn’t mean they’re the only thing in the world. And so revision shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on, either. Go for a walk, chat to your friends for 15 minutes, have Friday night off to go out. Whatever works. But when it feels like nothing’s going in, it’s usually because it’s not. So take five minutes. Have a break. Breathe. It’ll help, I promise.