Exam Advice

Now that a new school year has started, I decided to write a little about exams and the obvious stress that occurs during exam season.
I did my GCSEs and A-Levels before the new spec, meaning I had to sit exams in Year 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. I did an extra year of sixth form due to changing my A-Level subjects in my second year. The point I’m trying to make is that I know a lot about stress. Along with this, I also sat four exams during my first year at uni and, as someone who is entering her seventh year of exams, I decided to share some tips and tricks to help get you through exam season.
Start studying now
The best advice that I could give you is to start studying as soon as possible. Yes, it may only be September, but if you start now you won’t be so stressed during May/June. Having all your notes ready will take a huge weight off your shoulders, as trying to do it all at once a month before your exams will be an unnecessary workload that could have been avoided months earlier.
Plan ahead
During exams or, preferably, a month or so before, you should really start to study a lot harder than you did previously. Study timetables weren’t a great help for me personally but, for a lot of people, it’s a great way to organize when you are going to study each topic. I found using a planner and creating to-do lists a lot easier than dedicating myself to focus on a certain topic on a certain day as, most of the time, I was able to blitz through my work.
Stay green and clean
It is very important to eat healthily and regularly during exam season, as the extra energy will really boost your brain. I also found that I am a lot more focused studying in a clean environment. I hate having a messy room anyway, but taking a quick two minutes to give my room a clean really helped me feel more relaxed and calm as I studied.
Study groups
Study groups aren’t helpful for everyone. I preferred to study alone but, during those late night trips to the library, it was always nice to have a friend or two with me. We used to be very strict with ourselves, setting 40 minutes to study, and then giving ourselves a 10-minute break to chat and relax after each chunk. Studying with friends really does motivate you, but make sure you keep your groups to a minimum, no more than four.
Take breaks
Probably the most important. A lot of students don’t wish to take breaks as they want to stay focused but, in reality, those breaks are the most important part of studying. It’ll give your brain time to absorb all the information rather than cram too much in at once. During my breaks, I loved to meditate. This gave me a chance to focus on my breathing and calm down, returning my concentration to positive energy and making me feel a lot more confident as I approached revision.
Flashcards and mind maps
All students should have their go-to study methods that help them focus, whether it be writing something down over and over again, creating colorful posters, or recording audio to listen back to. I have been using flashcards and mind-maps for years, and find they are the most reliable study materials that work perfectly for me. It allows me to whittle down piles of notes into a few little cards, or one big mind-map, having my work in one place rather than a billion bits of paper.

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