It’s that time of year again and arguably, out of the two exam seasons we undergrads have, this is the hardest one. The truth is, the festive season is over and exams are upon us leaving us with two choices: sit and wallow or get ourselves together and show these exams who’s boss.
I know it’s not always as simple as flicking a switch and becoming a revision machine. Over my years of studying, I’ve managed to come up with some simple yet effective ways to combat the exam time blues, in a way that makes me feel studious yet relaxed, and achieve the grades I deserve.
- Positive Mental Attitude
‘My philosophy is if you worry, you suffer twice’ – Newt Scamander
Worry can be the devil in exam time. Whilst in small doses, a little can spur us on and actually improve our drive to do well, too much and we collapse under our pressure. So be positive! I start off by picking out the negative thoughts I’m having, which currently happen to be:
- I can’t do this, I don’t know anything.
- Maybe I should just drop out now and buy a load of cats.
I then turn these thoughts around, choosing to focus on the positives rather than the negatives:
- Yes you can, you’ve done loads of exams just to get to this point.
- Buying cats is not a viable life plan even if you want it to be. Stay in school kid.
- Take regular breaks
It’s all well and good planning a fifteen minute break and just using it to check Facebook but try to be more mindful! Remember that there are great services on and off campus to help us make the most of these breaks. Some of my personal favourites are:
- meditation sessions at the Main Library
- Workshops at the Counselling Service on managing stress and finding motivation
- The Buddhist Centre based in Manchester’s coolest district, the Northern Quarter, has daily lunchtime meditation classes and is next door to a really tasty (and cheap!) café in northern quarter. Win, win, right?
- Nourish Yourself
Eating fruit and drinking water is obviously the goal, so make sure you have plenty of those to hand. I have this terrible habit of skipping meals in favour of revision but eventually my concentration wanes and my hangry, irritable side comes out. Taking time to eat a good hearty lunch is not a waste of precious revision time, but a way of improving the quality of the work you get done.
I’ve also found that cooking up something nutritious and fun is a good way to allow you to focus on something else. Try my favourite food blog Hot for Food.
- Get Outside
We all need a bit of fresh air and time away from our computer
screens If the sun is out (I know, funny joke) head to the park with a few friends for a stroll or if it’s a bit gross, take a trip to the supermarket to stock up on revision fuel. . Not only does it break up revision stints but it allows us to remember that the world exists outside of our busy minds.
- Make a Plan
Whatever your revision style, taking time to make a rough guide of what you are going to do is invaluable.
For those of us who struggle with the motivation to revise, this can also be a great way to split up revision into bitesize chunks and make the task more manageable. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once and once you start, you’ll probably realise that you know more than you originally thought.
- Treat. Yo. Self.
You’re working hard. Really hard. So instead of just working your butt off or wallowing in self-pity until that end-of-exams victory night out that we all look forward to, choose to reward yourself for the work you are doing as you go along. Using realistic goals from your revision plan make sure you have something to look forward to when you complete them. It can be a coffee with a friend, buying your favourite chocolate bar or going out for a cheeky Nando’s (or a cheeky Chiquito, which is way more fun to say). By celebrating the little things, you allow yourself to appreciate all the hard work that you do every day and it makes revising all the more rewarding.
(This is my ultimate tippy top tip and I’ve found it motivates me above everything else. Try it, I promise you’ll feel better for it)
Remember to trust in your own abilities this exam season. You’ve already achieved so much to get to this stage. Whether this is your first year of university or your last, you have got yourself this far and whilst it might seem daunting now, in a few weeks times you’ll be able to look back and know that you gave it the best shot you could. Just remember to look after yourself and use the resources available to get the most out of this challenging time of year.