Exams are possibly one of the most stressful times in a young person’s life. Whether you’re 7 or 17, there is no feeling quite like getting ready to walk into that exam hall and feeling your stomach fluttering and head ringing. Revising and exam stress is unavoidable, so you might as well start finding ways to manage and make the best of it. At Connective Learning, that’s what I do every day for my students, and I wanted to share some of my tips with you.
Revision Top Tips
Do What Works For You. Everyone learns in different ways, and the same goes for revision. Don’t just make notes and read them back if they go in one ear and out the other. Do whatever helps you remember the material – whether that’s colour coding, drawing pictures or acting out the information. Need to listen to retain information? Record yourself going through the information and listen back. Personally, I revised well by leaving sticky notes n everything in my house that I used every day, so that when I used the item, I saw the fact and it was imprinted into my memory. At the end of the day, the exam is testing what you know, not how you learnt it, so do what works for you.
Break It Up. So many students think the only way they will remember everything is if they constantly stream it into their head, but this does more harm than good. Structure your revision into sessions, with regular breaks and time away from the material. Doing this helps it move from short to long term memory, and gives you a chance to relax and actually process everything you’ve learnt, instead of bombarding your brain with the next fact.
Test Yourself. This helps you understand if you’ve learnt the material and it gets you in the right headspace for the actual exam. Once you feel you have done all you can, sit down with someone else and have them ask you questions and see how well you do. The ones you aren’t sure on are areas you can keep revising, but ones you ace you can leave out for a while.
Before Exam Day
The day before the exam is usually when the nerves hit their hardest You start to panic, thinking you haven’t learnt enough, and that stress can manifest itself in some pretty unpleasant ways. Usually, the panic will ease and leave an underlying feeling of stress – one that doesn’t go away until the exams are over. While I may not be able to take that feeling away completely (though I wish I could) I do have a few do’s and don’ts that will make the run up to exam day a little less fraught.
- Try To Learn Something New.Seriously, the morning of the exams put the textbooks away and don’t try to cram in new things you forgot to revise. It won’t do you any good at this stage, and will only serve to muddle what’s already in your head. Even worse, you could scare yourself into a panic and end up forgetting what you do know.
- Skip Breakfast.Your stomach might be doing a nosedive at the thought of your next exam, but depriving it of food isn’t going to help. If you skip breakfast, around mid-morning your blood sugar will dip, which can cause fatigue, headaches and loss of concentration. Not good on exam day! Eating breakfast will kick start your brain and help you concentrate on your morning exams instead of your rumbling stomach.
- Do An Intense Workout.A lot of people use exercise as a way to work off extra stress, and that’s great. But doing rigorous exercise the day before an exam is a really bad idea. Any activity that will leave you tired, sore or with potential injuries will divert your focus from the test and drain your energy. If you feel the need to do something physical, opt for something low impact, like yoga or walking instead.
- Get A Good Night’s Sleep.In order to function properly, your brain need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night – and that’s if you’re a fully grown adult! Studies have shown that teenagers generally need 9 hours of sleep to fully rest their very active brains. If it gets less than this, your judgement, reaction time and reasoning skills will all suffer very quickly. So instead of staying up all night cramming, turn in early so you can be refreshed and ready to take on the exam.
- Do Something You Enjoy.In the midst of all the revision notes, do one thing that makes you laugh. Watch a comedy show, have a kick about with your friends, learn a new makeup routine or just fiddle with photos on Instagram. Laughing will relax you, lower your stress and help you get a good nights’ sleep. Laughter really is the best medicine.
- Don Your Lucky Charms.Everyone has something that put them in a good mood and a positive frame of mind, and there is no time you need it more than exam time! So whatever it is that gets you in the zone (providing it isn’t against the rules of the exam) do it! If you need to wear your shiniest pair of high heels or a full face of makeup for luck, put them on. If your lucky charm is a coin or a teddy bear, bring it along. If you need to completely zone out sound, get yourself some earbuds and wear them. Do whatever puts you in the best frame of mind and you’ll be set up perfectly to ace the exam.
Of course, there’s loads of advice out there for what to do, what not to do and a lot more besides when it comes to exams. None of these are hard and fast rules – so if you find that something isn’t working, don’t keep doing it. Instead, handle the revision and stress in your own way, whatever that is. And remember, if you need any help of support in revising for your upcoming exams, I am only a phone call away.