Exam periods are notorious for their ability to transform even the coolest of cucumbers into stress-heads at the end of every semester. In a time where you’re forced to juggle endless revision with lingering worries about your future, it can be difficult to stay calm. The incredible pressure that comes with exam periods can provide a positive challenge, but it can also be converted into relentless feelings of stress.
To support you in relieving this negative tension, we’ve compiled some useful tips that will help keep you level-headed during the upcoming exam period.
This sounds obvious enough, but it can prove really difficult to get away from stressed out people during exam time. You’ll find that the potent combination of endless revision, exhaustion and adrenaline will turn normally cool-headed people into a bundle of nerves. If you’re starting to feel this way, it’s a good idea to take a step back from the people and environments that are causing you stress. Not only will it allow you to maintain a sense of calm, but it’ll also stop you from comparing your habits to those of other people who are frenetically over-studying. Stress can do funny things to the mind, so take it upon yourself to avoid known triggers for a more pleasant exam experience.
Map out an efficient yet healthy study routine
When your life is revolving around study, it can be easy for you to slip into some subpar living habits. However, you’ll feel far better come exam time if you take the appropriate steps to look after yourself both mentally and physically. Creating a specific exam routine is a great way to maintain some balance in an otherwise hectic time of your life. Map out some study methods that you know work for you and stick to them. Don’t feel like you have to follow specific study rules or guidelines if they’re not effective for you. Complete exams from previous years, write practice essays, revise off cue cards stuck to the toilet door or make up a song – everybody learns differently. While you’re studying, make sure that you reward yourself with breaks when working through bigger blocks of revision. Don’t forget to eat and drink as you go, and opt for healthy, nourishing foods and drinks rather than junk. Being well rested will have a big effect on your revision efforts, so endeavour to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night before and during the exam period. To juggle all of this, sit down and plan it out – note when your exams are and then schedule in subject study by importance. Detail when you’ll be revising for a particular exam and include what content you’ll be working on. If you have any gaps, fill them in with extra revision that you’d like to complete. Be sure to keep notes of any work or social commitments you have and schedule in some time to take a break. If you’re feeling super organised, you could even add a healthy meal plan to your exam period agenda. Following a routine that will help you study effectively while keeping you stress-free will be a great arsenal come exam time, so take some time out to organise yourself beforehand.
Exercise is a brilliant de-stressor
It’s no secret that exercise is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body happy, and this is especially important during the exam period. Spending hours in your study chair looking at words and numbers can leave you feel sluggish; getting out and onto your feet can refresh your mind and keep you motivated after a long session of revision. Take it upon yourself to schedule in some exercise every day, even if it’s just a short walk – you’ll find that getting moving will help to ease any tension and uncertainty that you may be feeling. A little bit of daily exercise can keep your fitness up while you’re otherwise desk-bound, and you might be surprised to find that it’ll help you sleep better at night (crucial during the intense exam period).
Look forward to something
While having your exams over and done with will no doubt be your primary goal, don’t deprive yourself of fun during the assessment period. You’ll be extra motivated to complete your study if you’ve got a catch up with friends or trip to the movies planned afterwards. Having a rest is a great antidote to rising stress levels, so reward study periods with a well-earned break to do something you enjoy. Constant cramming can easily make you feel overwhelmed by the task ahead, so it’s important to step away from the textbook every once in a while.
Trying to do it all during the exam period sets you up for a very stressful experience. If you’ve maintained a number of commitments throughout the year, now is the time to think about dropping them back – juggling numerous plates at once is a sure-fire way to become very stressed out during the exam period. Let your workplace know that you’ll need to reduce your hours for the next few weeks and consider saying no to some social events if your calendar is already looking full. While exercise is important, it’s a good idea to scale back your sporting commitments if they’re quite demanding. Time is essential – so consider pulling back during the exam period to stop yourself from being run ragged.
When the exam period is under way, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenetic environment. Upset students, difficult questions, poor time management and dissatisfaction with performance are all common fall outs of exam time. While it can be hard to stop thinking about the ‘what ifs’ – what if I’d chosen this answer, what if I’d written about this topic – it’s essential that you move on from the exam, regardless of how satisfied you were with your performance. You can’t go back and change your answer, so don’t spend your time dwelling on what you did and didn’t do. It’s essential to not let one difficult exam cloud the rest of your experience – accept that things didn’t go how you wanted them to this time and focus your energy into preparing for your next one.
It’s all about perspective
Exam time is fraught with anxious thoughts about what the future holds. While your exams are no doubt important, it’s great to have the perspective to realise that good marks are not the only pathway into your dream course. There’s always another way to get to where you want to be, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your exams don’t go as well as planned. Knowing that your exams aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of your future will help to relieve the stress that comes from thinking about life after study. Take the exam period as a great learning experience and continue working hard towards your desired career!