From Exam Stress to Success

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By Dan Williams

For nearly all students, it is that time of year again. With exams just around the corner most of us will be bogged down with revision. This is generally considered by many to be a highly stressful period, for first years as the reality has just kicked in, with second years this is the first time when exams really count, and for finals, as these are the ones which will ultimately decide their degree classification. Fear not people! We are here to bring you the essential guide to doing well in your exams.

Before the exam:

  • Before doing anything make sure you have all the full course material. If you have missed a lecture, then you can probably get the notes of LUVLE or from the lecturer themselves. Catch up on any past readings you might have missed as well.
  • Create a study plan – ask yourself how much time you have to revise and make sure it is enough to cover all the material you need.
  • Divide the material you have into manageable sessions – There is no point revising for hours on end with no break, as you will simply get bored and not remember what you are revising
  • Concentrate on big areas – divide up how long you spend on each topic dependent on how heavily it is weighted in the exam (if you know that) and on the complexity of it.

When at this stage you are ready to start revising properly. It is also important to find a place where you can revise best, this might be in your bedroom, or in the library. There are many ways of revising as well so it’s best to find the way that works for you best. Some of the common ones are:

  • Summary notes – This involves going over your lecture notes and readings while making a condensed version of them. This will help you to remember and retain more stuff. It is also useful as you are learning the information in two different ways.
  • Flash cards – Another useful way of revising. Flash cards are useful in that they provide a trigger from remembering more information on a particular topic. If you write a brief summary of a particular one then it will help you instantly recall parts of a topic. It may also be useful to colour code, for example use one colour for a particular group of topics.
  • Practising under exam conditions – Knowing the information is one thing, but there are other things that are required for exam success as well. These include time management skills which you can only get from putting yourself in an exam situation. Past papers are available on LUVLE, so it would be useful to print a few off and having a go at answering a few of the questions to a time limit.
  • Group work – This can also be beneficial, as some people learn best when they are talking and interacting with others. The only problem here is that the conversation can stray to other topics which may be considered more interesting. Stick to the point, and stay focused!
  • It is important also to keep procrastination to a minimal. A little bit can be healthy but don’t let yourself become too distracted!

On the day:

  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before the exam. This is fundamental, as you are not exactly going to do well if you have been up the night before worrying, having only got two hours sleep!
  • Nutrition is another point of note. If your exam is in the morning then it is important to have breakfast, as this will give you a vital energy boost. If your exam is later on then eat again so you are not hungry when you go into the exam.
  • It may sound odd, but before you go in it might be useful stay away from people. There will be some who are nervous and they will pass this on to other others, so make sure this is not you. Make sure you remain relaxed and focused. This is an opportunity to shop the examiner what you know.
  • When the exam is over and you can go, just remember that this is only for a short period of time each year. After the exam period you are free to go an enjoy yourself!