So, you’ve been thrown into the deep end of exams, revision and all things stressful – here’s 21 tips to help you cope.
1. Don’t be a Workaholic!
Exams are full of stress, that’s a given – but that doesn’t mean you have to be absorbed by them!
Make sure to take a few minutes out of your revision schedule every now and again to give your brain a rest, as this will not only relax you and give you a chance to breathe, it also boosts attention, focus, and in turn, grades!
Even the most inherently intelligent people need time out from their studies, so don’t be afraid to give yourself a break after a long, intensive revision session.
2. Don’t be Distracted
Distractions can unfortunately turn what appears to be an hour-long “hardcore” study session into an hour-long unproductive study session.
Things such as loud music, tempting food and your phone can be a major drawback in the progress of your revision, so try and avoid getting caught up with things that may or may not be more exciting than your studying!
A good way to stay focused whilst revising is to minimize the chance of distraction by hiding away your phone, clearing your workspace, and reducing the amount of background noise you hear.
Revision is, of course, subjective to each person and so if you feel something like music helps you to revise, who am I to tell you otherwise!
As a matter of fact, when I was revising for my GCSEs, I found that listening to non-lyrical music on a low volume actually really helped me focus on my work. The reason this worked so well for me is because my particular headphones completely blocked out all background noise allowing me to be focused on my work.
3. Don’t Give Up!
Exams could possibly be one of the hardest things you do in life, and so the temptation to just give up is hard to resist sometimes…
But, when you finally find out the results of your hard work after exams, you’ll understand that it was all worth it. I know it sounds very teachery but it turns out to actually be true!
It’s definitely important to focus on the end goal of finishing exams and not lose sight of what you’re working towards, because as long as you have the vision of where you want to be, it’s much easier to handle the intense study you undertake.
If you’re ever completly stuck on what to do, I would highly recommend checking out our article on the 7 most effective revision tehniques that are easy to implement.
4. Don’t Over Compensate for Subjects
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of revising only for the subjects you like or are good at in the hopes of maximizing your grades, but trust me when I say that a more rounded set of results is better.
Studying too heavily for certain subjects can lead to a lack of study for others, and this will create an unbalanced turnout on results day.
A more rounded set of results (where none are majorly falling behind or speeding ahead) is preferred because it shows that no matter what the task at hand is, you can accomplish it whether you enjoy it or completely hate it!
This is much better compared to showing how you can only apply yourself to the subjects you like, as employers and peers can then understand and respect your commitment to a singular, sometimes painful, task.
The easy way to avoid overcompensating for a subject is to create a balanced revision timetable. I would personally get a week to view revision timetable and fill it in at the start of each week.
5. Don’t Leave it to the Last Minute!
This is one of the most basic principles of exam revision – do not procrastinate.
Leaving unfinished work until the last minute is a very bad idea, as it leaves you with less time to learn and consolidate the facts and figures needed for your exam.
Procrastination is hugely detrimental to the results of your exams and so a good way to prevent it is to (as aforementioned) remove distractions!
I have also previously mentioned that the noise cancelling headphones I got off amazon during the exam season really helped me eliminate background noise as a distraction.
One of the main reasons for leaving revision to the last minute is because there always seems to be something better to do, and so removing this option means there is more initiative for you to do the work.
6. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other People
Comparing yourself to other people can lead to doubts in your abilities and performance for an exam, and this might mean that you don’t do as well as you perhaps could have done because you were too focused on somebody else’s ability.
Take the time during your revision to focus on yourself and reflect on your own skills, not comparing yourself to other people but thinking about how you can improve.
At the end of the day the exam you sit is sat by you, and not that guy who scored slightly higher than you on that last test – you are responsible for your own grades, so don’t compare them with somebody else!
7. Don’t Just Revise Whenever You Feel Like it
If you’re feeling like you’re up for some revision, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – go right ahead! But it is essential to have a structured schedule or plan for your studying, and usually it’s important to establish it ASAP – before exams rear their ugly head.
A planned-out revision timetable will make sure that your time spent studying is evenly distributed between subjects, ensuring the best possible outcome for the exams you take! This week to view exam revision timetable off Amazon.co.uk is perfect for planning out your revision schedule.
It’s okay if you veer off from the plan slightly at times, but always make sure to come back to the basis of it all – evenly revising all your subjects.
Also, if you’re struggling to create the perfect timetable for your revision, ask your tutor or teacher to help – they usually have a pretty good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are in learning.
It’s not just your revision timetable that determines your success. You need to ensure that you are implemnting the right revision techniques aswell!
8. Don’t Give Up on Food!
Bit of an odd ball, but still as essential as the rest of these tips!
Having a healthy diet whilst in the middle of the stress and angst of exams is vital, as it will help to coordinate your thoughts and have you feeling fresh and revitalized when it comes to revision.
A balanced diet will make sure that your body takes care of itself while your mind is hard at work preparing for exams, and this prevents you from feeling grouchy and tired when the big moment comes.
This also means stay away from caffeinated and sugary drinks/food! These deceiving treats may give you boosts of energy in the short term, but will leave you tired and discombobulated when it matters the most.
So… save the caffeinated and sugary drink/food for the all nighters!
If you are struggling to think of meals that are filling and will keep you on your toes give this website a look.
To prevent this, make sure you have lots of carbs that give you long lasting energy to carry you through those long exam hall hours.
9. Don’t Be Scared
Exams are not the be-all and end-all of your life, so why treat them like they are? Of course they’re important, and so you should take them seriously, but there is no need to lose sleep over them!
Being nervous before an exam leads to making mistakes during the exam, and because of this it’s important to calm your pre-sit jitters.
A good way of accomplishing this is to listen to relaxing music, talk it through with friends and family, or to revise up to the point in which you feel comfortable in the subject area.
Just think, after the exam, you’ll feel happy that it’s finally over – try and focus on that as your end goal, and the nerves will disappear!
10. Don’t Shut People Out!
It’s very easy to isolate yourself during exam season so you can revise and focus on the work at hand – this is good up to some extent, but it’s also important to have some social contact.
Talking to friends and family about your exams is a great way to relieve some of the stress and tension you may feel. Even talking to them about other things as well gives you a chance to rest your brain from tireless revision, and so can be good for you in the long run!
Try having a chat with people who are taking the same exam as you – this will not only make you feel less anxious about the upcoming exam, but it will hopefully make them feel better too.
Remember! If you really have no friends to talk to, there is always The Student Room!
Even if the only person you talk to is your teacher or tutor for exam tips and help, it’s important to have that social outlet where you can discuss your exam problems!
11. Don’t Be Lazy
A big pitfall in exam season is to think that you’ve got it all under control – this is fine, but it’s when you stop revising because of this that it becomes a problem.
You should be revising as much as you can for each subject to ensure that you get the maximum possible grades you can. It’s okay to feel like you’ve mastered the subject – but more revision will always help.
Falling into the mindset of ‘these exams will be easy, I don’t need to revise’ can also lead to procrastination as you see the tasks you need to do to prepare less important.
As I’ve said before, procrastination is not something you want to endorse whilst in the heat of exam season!
12. Don’t Start Celebrating Too Early
Exams mark the end of an era – after a long time studying and preparing for it, the moment has finally come where you can show what you’ve learnt.
This means that after you’ve finished, it’s party time! However, try not to be complacent and celebrate before your exam period is over, because that leaves less time for revision, and more time for mistakes!
It’s essential to keep that solid work ethic and constant revision right up until the last exam, to avoid falling at the last hurdle – as aforementioned, you don’t want any of your exams to be lagging behind.
Try to stay away from friends or colleagues that have already finished their exams and focus on you to ensure your success. In the same way, don’t distract others from their studies!
13. Don’t Stay Up Late
Staying up late to revise and study that one subject that you’ve not quite mastered can have the opposite effect on your exams.
Less sleep leads to less concentration and focus during an exam, and so even though you may have packed in a tiny bit more revision, your final grade could be lowered.
But if you really must revise through the night, there are some precautions you should take to ensure that you’re healthy in body and mind for the exam.
Make sure to stay healthy by eating correctly (staying away from sugary and fatty foods!), and always have that positive mindset – if you start to feel yourself becoming more negative about exams, then it’s probably best that you spend some more time sleeping.
14. Don’t Get Complacent
Don’t start thinking that just because you’re super super good at a subject you can cruise during the exam!
Even before the exam it’s important to try your hardest with every subject, and that includes the subjects you excel in. Not revising to the absolute best of your ability means there is more chance for you to mistakes – and mistakes mean less marks in an exam!
Also try and make sure that your exam technique for your best subjects is the same as the technique for your worst. This will mean that trying your hardest for those exams you’re not so comfortable in will reflect in your easier ones too!
Just remember that it’s easy to make mistakes because of overconfidence in exams – confidence is fine, but just don’t get cocky about it!
15. Don’t Start Things You Know You Won’t Finish
Revision can be boring, in fact, most of the time it is – but starting a long project to entertain yourself in the middle of exam season is a bad idea!
Beginning something time consuming (such as a craft project or learning an instrument) can detract from your time spent revising and can lead to worse exam results!
It may be tempting to start that thing you always wanted to do, but it can wait until after exams! Exams are top priority while you still have a chance to affect their outcome, so make sure that they’re your focus.
16. Don’t Just Read a Book!
Revision is totally null and void if you don’t take notes on what you’re studying! Your brain will take in much more information if you write down everything that you need to know for your exam whilst it’s right in front of you.
Firsly, I will say that there is an entire article on the best revision techniques here. So, if you’re looking for an in-detail explanation on how you should be revising I strongly recommend you check it out.
Anyways, sure it’s true that reading will help you ace your exams, but if you take down notes and have your own ways of remembering facts and figures then I can guarantee that you’ll see your grades increase!
Here are a few methods of revision that have proved effective for me.
Write down an extended bit of writing that will be useful to remember, then cover it up and try to say it from memory – every time you forget, remind yourself of the text and try again! This is a great way of remembering those extra-long facts and processes for exams.
Write down everything! Your chance of remembering something is tripled when you write it down, and so making as many notes as you can is a great way of studying.
Creating colourful mind maps and diagrams is a great way of sinking that information deep into your memory – your brain will associate the vibrant colours with the facts you need to know and help you bring up that information in your exam. If you want to learn how to use mind maps effectively (in lots and lots of detail), check out this article.
This also works with smells and flavours too – try spraying a certain smell when you revise and then that same scent again when you take your exam – in the same way as before, it will help you to think back to the time you spent revising.
17. Don’t Surround yourself with Negativity
If you have read Archie’s article on The Best Things to do on The Morning of an Exam, you will know that hanging out with outwardly nervous people before an exam or even when revising can put you into a spiralling mood of negativity…
Negativity can lead to you doubting your ability, and that means more mistakes made in the exam. You should try to stay near positive people whilst under the stress and strain of exams, as this should put you into a positive mindset!
Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to find people who can be positive during the exam periods, and so it can be best to just be alone for a bit – as I’ve mentioned before, taking some time out for you isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
If you’re having trouble staying positive, there are lots of things to try that may help. Exercise, relaxing music, and long baths are a great way to unwind and step back for a bit.
Remember – always keep focused on the end goal of completing exams, as that way it’s easier to keep focus on what you’re working towards, and therefore it’s easier to stay positive.
18. Don’t be Disheartened by Failure!
Failing whilst revising in some sense can be worse than failing anything else – it’ll put you off of revision if you’re not careful, and that can be devastating to your exam results.
Failing is an essential part of learning. It shows you what you haven’t done quite so well so you can improve for the future, and opens up your mind to new possibilities and ways of learning.
Without failure there can be no success, so don’t be disheartened by it! You’ll always have more chances to attempt tasks, and with failure comes improvement!
You’ll never always be bad at something as long as you take the time to learn from your mistakes. Whilst revising for your exams, take note of what you’re not quite doing so well so that you can learn from it and improve your studying efficiency.
This in turn will help out your grades as you become better at revising for exams!
19. Don’t Forget to Set Targets
You may find it difficult to stay motivated while in the heat of exam season, and it may not always be easy to keep focused on your end goal.
A good way to combat both of these problems is to set short-term targets for yourself. This way, you’re always thinking about completing or achieving your goal, and it will help your motivation as you become more absorbed in your work.
The targets you set yourself should be specific (as in relevant to your subject), measurable (so you can see your progress), agreed upon (so both you and your peers agree), realistic (can you actually do this?), and time based (achievable in the short term).
Setting goals like this will massively increase your chances of success as you stay motivated and focused on revision for exams!
20. Don’t Have a Lie In!
When revising, the facts and figures you need to know will be easier to remember if you learn them in the morning.
After all, if you have seen Archie’s article on The 17 Best Things You Can do on The Morning of an Exam, you will know that looking over facts and figures in your notebook can really help!
This means that staying in bed until late afternoon is a bad idea! Try to wake up relatively early by setting an alarm to ensure the maximum time and efficiency when revising.
You may think that less sleep is not good, and you’d be right! What this means Is that it’s important to go to bed early in the evenings and have an early start in the mornings.
This way you get the same amount of sleep, but better retention of important revision material for your exams!
21. Don’t Forget to Switch it up!
When revising, it’s essential to mix up your styles of revision – this will not only help you stay focused, but it will make it more enjoyable, and therefore you’re more likely to remember it all!
There are lots of different techniques for revising, and not all of them work for everybody – so make sure to search around and find the perfect techniques for you.
Some good ways of studying include taking notes after reading a text, listening to educational podcasts, or watching helpful videos on certain topics or subjects.
It can be useful to decide whether you’re a visual learner (seeing things helps you remember them), an aural learner (hearing things helps you remember them), or a physical learner (doing things for yourself helps you learn them).
Determining your learning style will help you to find the revision style that’s perfect for you. Ask your peers, tutors and teachers to help you figure it out!
Thanks for checking out this article on what to avoid during exam season, make sure to take a look at the rest of the Think Student website!