It’s that time of year again, the days are getting longer and warmer, the pale legs are starting to come out, freshly cut grass and barbeque are the season’s hottest scent and beer (well in my case cider) o’clock is all day long. Summer’s finally here! And hopefully here to last. But whilst we’re enjoying the sun, spare a thought for the poor students who for them, summer time means exam time. And we’ve all been there.
All across the UK, students are in full swing revision mode. Day dreams of awesome holidays to come have long been replaced by nightmares of sitting in the exam hall and realising the only thing you can remember are the lyrics to the latest hit.
Like everyone, my finals were probably the most stressful time of my life. Not to be over dramatic but having worked solidly on my dissertation for what felt like forever to then realise it was double the word count, whilst also writing several essays and attempting to revise all at the same time was not the greatest experience.
So having gone through the whole process just last year, I’ve got some great tips for all the students who may be panicking over those hellish exams. And don’t worry it does end. Eventually. And, yes the grass is greener on the other side, if you work hard and study lots.
First things first, before you even start revising check where and when your exams are. It may sound ridiculous but I knew of plenty of students who made this rookie error. Including myself.
Yep, picture this. I turn up to the exam hall in good time, I’m stood patiently waiting to go in and I notice I can hear recitals of the rules of physics instead of last minute discussions about language and society (I studied English Language). I look around and it dawns on me that I don’t recognise anyone, a quick check of the exam timetable and it hits me like a tonne of bricks. I’m in the wrong place! Turns out my exam was actually in the library which was a 10 minute walk if you run kind of job. So I ran as fast as I could, hair flying, scarf half dragging on the floor juggling my bag in my arms and I just about made it in time. Sat in the exam hall coughing and spluttering as I tried to recover from my ordeal, and believe me it was an ordeal. Trying to regain your cool after that is pretty hard. As is not panicking.
So take it from someone who’s made the mistake before (and made sure never to do it again), know the room and know the date. Exams can be stressful at the best of times, don’t add extra unnecessary stress into the mix.
Next up, is to plan your time.
Again, maybe a silly suggestion, but I know it can be all too easy to spend loads of time revising for your first exam, and before you know it, it’s been and gone, your next set of exams are looming and you haven’t picked up the course books since you ordered them back in October. So whether you’ve got 2 months, 2 weeks or 2 days to go, you need to decide which topics you’re going to revise and plan your time effectively to make sure you don’t slip into the habit of spending too much time on one exam.
Look at past papers and find out what the format of the exam is because it will help to determine which topics to revise. There’s no point learning your 4 inch thick course book cover to cover if the exam only covers the first three chapters.
In terms of revising, my tip is to do what works best for you. Everyone’s got their own best ever method of revising but if it’s not sinking in, then it’s not worth wasting the time. Try out a few different revision techniques and opt for the one that works best for you. So if you’ve got revision lectures or group study sessions, go over everything you covered afterwards using the technique. Consolidating your notes will help you learn.
Being a visual learner it was mind maps galore with me. I had posters all over my room and everything was colour coded. Highlighters, coloured pens and paper were my number one friends. Sad, I know. But it helped me revise!
Another useful tip is to record yourself reading out revision notes. Handy for when you’re on the bus or doing the washing up, so that lost time isn’t lost. Or a crazy thought – why not make it into a song? Yes I realise that sounds highly embarrassing especially if anyone were to come across it, but think how easily we remember lyrics to songs. Then when you’re in the exam hall all you need to do is sing your catchy tune and you’ll be away!
Get away from it all…
…And head to the library! Yes this may sound an obvious suggestion, but I probably wasted quite a lots of time trying to revise at home whilst logged into Facebook with Game of Thrones on in the background drawing circles on the page instead of words and the book on the floor. The silence of the library was the only way forward for me. Switching off Netflix, YouTube, my phone and my laptop was the only way I could really knuckle down. Plus the library has an abundance of sources with different perspectives which will help you find your argument.
Or ask others to test you. This will help you establish which topics you need to focus on and which topics you understand. It will help you to effectively plan the rest of your time.
You may feel like you don’t have time to cook or even eat but in order to actually remember everything your brain needs food. Try to steer clear of junk food, as it’s typically high in salt and sugar and when that sugar high crashes you’ll feel tired and deflated. Stick to high energy and slow releasing foods like blueberries, tomatoes, fish and wholegrain breads, cereals, rice and pasta.
Previously on The Euroffice Blog…