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How to cope with the run up to Exams and Revision

Updated on April 4, 2014

Exams are a stressful time for everyone, some people deal with them better than others however most people will find themselves struggling at one point or another. Whether this struggling is over keeping yourself motivated to do revision and keep it going for the months up until the exam, or whether is is over simply trying to keep yourself sane and not overwhelmed with work. In this hub I will give tips and tricks to help you help you cope with exams and revision and to make sure you achieve the best results and grades that you can.

A wall of revision notes
A wall of revision notes

Tips for successful revision

  1. Little but often. Don't sit yourself down for 5 hours straight to revise, you will lose concentration after the first 45 minutes. Do short 30-45 minute bursts of revision with a specific target and focus, obviously do multiple sessions in a day however by keeping yourself intensely focused through your whole revision time is crucial.
  2. Maximize your breaks. When you take a break from revision don't just sit on the internet doing nothing, this won't refresh you for your next session. Do something that you enjoy. What I do is either play guitar or go for a quick bike ride around the block, these activities split your day up.
  3. Overwhelmed? If you feel overwhelmed by work then set yourself 5 targets in the morning when you wake up. Make these goals small and achievable, this way you can track your progress throughout the day and feel like you are getting somewhere.
  4. If you are struggling to get motivated look past the exams. If these exams are school exams then it is likely you will have a long holiday afterwards, the pain/sacrifice is only temporary. If the exam isn't for school then think about the doors success will open. To convince yourself to do the work just concentrate on the end result.
  5. Reduce the pressure on yourself. Alot of exam stress is stress that you put upon yourself through fear of failure. Look at all of your options, if the worst comes to worst and you don't do as well as you hoped then explore what your options could be, a lot of the time they may not be as bad as you imagine. For example if you miss the grades for one university will you still be able to get into another?
  6. Post up notes/key points/equations around your house. Put these notes in positions that you will see often meaning that they are consistently in your view and thus hopefully constantly being refreshed in your mind. This technique is really good for when you have a couple of points that you just can't get to stick in your mind.
  7. Mix up your revision techniques. Don't sit there doing the same type of revision day after day. Use different techniques. A couple of common techniques are.
  • Writing/rewriting your notes
  • Reading your notes
  • Doing Past exams

These techniques can be done either by yourself or with friends in a group, the advantages of a group are that you have each others strengths to use as help to fix any weaknesses.

How long before an exam do you start revising?

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Why you need to keep stress to a minimum

Stress if proven to make you more likely to be ill, it impacts your immune system meaning that you are more susceptible to colds and bugs. If you are ill this may effect your revision, or in the worst case scenario it could mean you are ill during your actual exam which. In the longer term stress can cause much more serious problems such as High blood pressure or insomnia.

What to do for the actual Exams

  • Get a good nights sleep beforehand, don't stay up late revising. This is most crucial for exams that require lateral thinking. You may know all of the equations that you need for the exam however if your mind is too tired to work out which ones you need to use then you may not answer correctly.
  • Eat correctly, a lot of people (often girls) will not eat on the day of the exam because they may say they "Felt too stressed" or "had butterflies in my stomach". That apprehension is normal however to perform at your best your mind needs fuel to work on. Eat a chocolate bar before you go in, the sugar and the endorphins released by eating chocolate give you a temporary brain boost.


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