Blogmas Day 8 | Preparing For Exams

December 08, 2015

It's that time of year for university students that exams are drawing closer and the books are beckoning. Its a really stressful time, I've done two sets of Christmas exams, and found that it can be really hard to get my nose stuck in the books. So I thought today that I'd write some tips down for those of you suffering through the workload. Now I'm not an expert at this - of course I feel stress and worried and overwhelmed at times too, and the important thing is to know that everyone goes through it too. It's only natural!

The real key is not to stress out. Easier said than done, right? But finding the right balance between work and down time is the answer to your troubles. I like to try and reward myself at the end of a good day, and give myself breaks during work. Its impossible to work for hours on end, and this is something I've really tried to prove to myself. Trying to focus for hours just leaves me uninterested and distracted. A few solid hours of work is so much more beneficial than a whole day of staring blankly at pages between facebook messages. I find its much easier to get up in the morning and get the work done early. That way, you can carry on till you see fit - and you don't feel rushed to fit in hours at the end of a day. It also lets you have an afternoon off, if you've been productive that morning. But be truthful to yourself. Do you really need another episode of Grey's Anatomy or AHS? Or could you spend that time reading over some notes. One thing that I find myself dreading, but worthwhile in the long run is reading over notes before you go to sleep. One of my teachers at school told me this trick, as it helps you retain the information if its the last thing you see before bed. Therefore, if there's a topic I'm struggling with then I have a read over of it before I go to sleep that night.

It's always good to start early with revision - I know, exam diet is upon us, so this might be too late to get in action. But doing a little and often is really important. I also start with the topics I find interesting and want to write about in my exam. If there's a particular topic that I've enjoyed that semester then I like to start with it, and it helps me get into the revision mood, rather than tackle the harder things first. Once you've done those interesting topics- you'll find you know more than you thought. And believe you me, that is a good feeling!

Revision techniques are so personal - we all are different learners, so find different techniques useful. I find a combination approach is most useful for me. I'm partly an oral learner, so I like to listen to the information. I try and find a youtube video on the topic to listen to, or have sometimes recorded myself speaking my notes, and listened to it on repeat. Just like learning song lyrics right?
I also like repetition. Therefore I read and read and read. Rewriting notes isn't hugely helpful for me, but reading over flashcards really is. Flashcards are my life saver. Testing myself really is my most effective way of learning, so whether its me writing questions on one side and the answer on the other to test myself on the bus / walk / in bed, or if I get my family to test me, I find that this is the best way to learn. Then you know if you really do know the material, and don't just 'know' it because you read it.

My exams are formatted as a series of essays or short essays. Therefore, it can be really helpful to write out some essay plans. As my luck has it, I don't think I've ever managed to have an exam with the exact question I planned for, but having sample answers prepared that can be adapted can really help. If you recognise a question or some of the knowledge needed for a particular question, then its easy to reel out an answer in no time at all. And this gives you extra time to focus on maybe a weaker question that you're less confident with.

Overall, just stay calm. Don't stress out because then you can't do any work and its useless. So have a plan in mind and try to stick to it. I hope this helps as much as possible for those of you with exams.
And Good Luck!

Check out my other Blogmas posts:
Blogmas Day 1 - The Christmas Tag
Blogmas Day 2 - Edinburgh's Christmas Market
Blogmas Day 3 - My Top Five Christmas Films
Blogmas Day 4 - Foodie Friday At Peter's Yard
Blogmas Day 5 - Managing University
Blogmas Day 6 - Winter Scarf Wishlist
Blogmas Day 7 - My Favourite Christmas Songs


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