How to Overcome Exam Period

It’s that time of year again, where students from school and university are busy revising for exams. I have had experience of exam periods for the past few years now, but even I still get stressed over exams. However, overcoming this period is certainly not impossible, and here are some tips that I would give from my previous experiences.

1) Identify what the good and bad distractions are going to be, and come up with ways to reduce the bad distractions

Good distractions are ones that divert your mind away from revision every now and then, but at the same time maintain your productivity when you revise. These include meditation, sport and exercise. We all need to take breaks in a busy exam time, and identifying things that can help you release stress can make a huge difference. For me, I find that going on walks around the Warwick campus helps me significantly, as I love nature and getting fresh air.

However bad distractions are one that can hinder your motivation and productivity, and hence ones which should be avoided as much as possible.  For some people, revising with friends would come under this category, as they usually find that they start talking to them about other things which means they don’t much work done. Social media can also be a big distraction, and scrolling through YouTube videos on a regular basis can significantly reduce productivity. What I found useful in the past was identifying what potential bad distractions I could face, and coming up with ways to reduce these. For example, one solution that I implemented in last year’s exam period was to only check social media once my revision for the day was over. It is so easy to lose productivity in exam period due to distractions, so being aware on how you can avoid these can prove crucial.

2) Its about quality of revision, not how long you revise for in a day

One question that I always get asked is how many hours I spend every day revising. Whilst I don’t count how many hours I revise for, I would consider myself to be someone that generally is productive whilst revising. It can be very easy to fall in the trap thinking that you are behind because everyone else you have talked to seems to be revising more hours than you in a day. However, revising for a lot of hours on its own is not enough, it’s what you do in those hours that is more important. There is no point claiming that you revise 16 hours a day if a good chuck of these 16 hours is spent scrolling through Instagram and YouTube. It isn’t necessarily the case that revising for more hours will get you better grades in the end. It is far better to revise for 7 hours a day with a high level of productivity than 17 hours a day which a low level of productivity.

3) Don’t neglect your wellbeing

Good sleep, eating healthily, and taking regular breaks are some of many things that are crucial for our wellbeing, yet can be so easily neglected when it comes to exam period. Even though it can feel that your dissertation/deadlines/exams are the only things that matter at this point of time, you will not be able to do them to the best of their ability if you don’t take care of your wellbeing first. Your wellbeing and mental health are very important during term time, and they are even more important when it comes to exam period. One of my close friends told me that there is no point working yourself too hard and ending university with a great degree but not being able to use it as you have broken yourself in the process. Even though getting good grades is important, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your wellbeing.

4) It’s OK if some revision days don’t go to plan

People that know me know that I like my routine and structure, and that I have a timetable on Google Calendar that sets out what I need to do every day.  But sometimes things come in the way which means that I don’t always get done what I want to have got done for the day. There is virtually zero chance that every single day of revision from now till end of exams will go precisely the way you have wanted it to. Last minute things come up, some days it may take longer than expected to grasp the content, or you may feel more tired than usual on some days. However, it is important not to beat yourself up if some revision days don’t pan out the way you have wanted it to, as you can always make it up on other days.

5) If you give it your best shot now you won’t have to contend with the feeling of regret later

Every year after exams, I have people tell me that they regret not working harder or leaving things so last minute. And normally it is the regret that people have to contend with that hurts more than not achieving the grades that they wanted. Once exams are over, you can’t go back in time and change anything. This should act as a big motivation to work hard now and give it your best shot whilst revising. It is extremely satisfying celebrating after exams if you know that you have given it your best effort and that you couldn’t have done more. And even if results don’t go to plan, at least you gave it your best.

Good luck everyone! Even though exam period seems to last forever, there is light in the end of the tunnel!

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