At least for me, exams are pretty terrifying, meaning that in the weeks running up to my exams I usually find myself stressing out and constantly thinking about the worst possible outcome. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few strategies over the years to help reduce stress and hopefully they might be able to help a few of you out too!
Have ‘sacred’ time
Unless I absolutely have to, I almost never work during lunchtime or after 10pm. I usually forget to take breaks so it’s nice to have dedicated time set aside to do something other than studying. Obviously, if you’re rushing to finish an assignment then you might have to work whilst eating, but other than that try to make sure you have time to relax.
I normally get pretty stressed out when the work seems overwhelming and impossible. One way to tackle this is to break up the exam into the topics you need to cover and then break that up into sub-topics or even specification point. I’ll then rank them and make sure I give myself time to tackle the most difficult ones first. I’ve uploaded a template here if you want to try this for yourself.
Have a go-to ‘de-stressor’
If I’m getting really stressed out then I’ll usually watch something like Horrible Histories to chill out. Whilst it may seem pretty counterproductive to take time out when you feel like you have too much to do, it allows you to take some time to relax before coming back to your work with a clearer mind.
Make a note of important info
Mine normally includes any exam dates, information about their location and time as well as anything I need to bring to them. It’s handy to have all the information in one place so you don’t have to keep searching through various emails and worrying that you’ve forgotten a key bit of info.
Give yourself time off
Yeah, you need to study, but it’s also important to have breaks and do something else for a little while. This could be literally anything from going for a walk to watching TV with friends or just reading a book. Normally I try and plan something with others so I can’t back out of it and I have to take a break for a couple of hours.
Pack your bag beforehand
It’s one less job to do on the day of the exam and it’s a good way to make sure you have everything you need. It also gives you a chance to buy anything that you might be missing beforehand rather than panicking just before the exam because you have only just realised that you’re missing it.
Change up your study environment
I get really bored of sitting in the same place day in, day out so normally I try and change up where I study every couple of days. It’s nice to have a change of scenery every once in a while plus it’s probably not great for you to spend three weeks hiding out in your room.
Try ‘easy’ studying
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself or you want a bit of downtime without stopping studying, then I’d suggest doing some form of ‘easy’ studying. For me this usually includes watching videos on a topic or quickly running through digital flashcards whilst watching TV – yeah it’s not the most productive way to study but it’s better than nothing at least!
Keep up your hobbies
Whenever it gets close to exams, I always find myself tempted to give up any hobbies or activities I tend to do outside of uni. It may feel like the sensible thing to do but realistically taking 1/2 hours out a week won’t be your downfall and it’ll probably just give you a chance to relax and recharge if nothing else – so basically, keep them up!
Plan something fun
Exams are not the be-all and end-all and life will definitely continue once they’re done! One thing that keeps me motivated through exam time is planning out fun activities for when I’m finished – these can include going to a museum, going to get food with my friends or just finally reading that book I’ve been wanting to read for months. It’s just nice to have a reminder that no matter what happens with your exams, life will go on.
Wear something comfy
Exams aren’t fun – they’re stressful and you have to spend a lot of time concentrating so why wear something that just makes you feel worse? Choose clothes that you’re comfortable in and consider whether the exam hall will be warm or cold once you’re in there. The last thing that you want is to be freezing (or boiling!) when you’re trying to answer a tough exam question.
Nothing else worked?
What’s the worst that can happen? I hate the thought of failing or missing out on my goal, but what’s the worst that can happen if it goes wrong? There are resits, alternative routes to your goal and new opportunities. Yeah it’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the road and if nothing else, you’ll have a better idea of how to tackle things next time!
Hopefully, a couple of these tips helped you out! If you ever need more advice then you can always email me or send me a DM on Instagram
(Header image from freepik – www.freepik.com)