Ah November, the time of the year where year 11 and 12 kids, as well as uni students collectively cry. It’s exam time people, and after (hopefully successfully) completing my hardest subject’s exam this morning, I thought I would give you some pointers on exam prep, motivation, study tips and more importantly, keeping those stress levels on the minimal.
First things first – Don’t do an Imogen
So, if you know me then you know I’m a shocker when it comes to time management, completing work and notes that I deem unimportant at the time and most importantly, I’m notorious for the day before cram. DON’T DO IT TO YOURSELF.
My god do I wish I did the weekly notes and exercises I deemed unimportant, because #spoileralert! they’re really vital to study success. The thing about uni is that you don’t have a teacher who is constantly encouraging, reading, checking and helping you stay on task, and keeping you up to date with the work. Year 11 and 12 students, I can not stress enough how much of an asset your wonderful teachers are to your success at school. I have a lot of them to thank for my (kinda good but not really) work ethic I’ve (kinda) accumulated over the years…. Without them I’d be royally screwed at uni.
So out of this little ramble we’ve got two tips so far:
1. Do the pre work notes, activities and consciously attempt to stay up to date through the semester with the work load.
2. year 11 and 12 students specifically (although can apply to uni kids if you have wicked tutors) utilise the help and motivation your teachers are willing to give, because it won’t be like that forever (cry).
Next! If by chance you have “done an Imogen” and not taken very detailed notes passed week 3 of your 12 week law subject that is really hard and have got yourself in a pickle … (oops) Don’t dwell on it. Once you’ve reached the Saturday prior to your exam on Monday and you realise you are up sh*t creek without a paddle, take a deep breath and repeat after me “I am an idiot, but there’s nothing I can do about it other than learn from this mistake and give it my very best crack”. I struggled with this, not gonna lie. There are numerous people at uni who will tell you about 11pm Sunday night, when it became too much for me and I ended up in the fetal position on the library floor.
I was constantly kicking myself for being the idiot I am and not keeping up to date like I swore at the start of the semester I would. But the one thing I took from this is, there’s nothing I can do about it now. So I scraped myself up from the floor and got on with frantically writing notes.
Tip three from this ordeal:
3. If you find yourself in a self inflicted pickle, breath, understand you can’t do anything about it this late, and move on to the important part…. (cramming 12 weeks of course content into one night).
Rightio, after successfully completing my exams in semester one, I found that the best way I learn is by using and writing out palm cards as well as completing practice question to ensure I’m capable of the work. This method for me, really helped with passing a lot of my subjects. Economics specifically I found this method to work really well. I wrote out almost every definition I could find, I drew every graph with a detailed explanation and I completed tonnes of practices questions prior to the exam.so my tip to you is to:
4. Find a study method that works successfully for you and stick to it. You’ll find that by studying for each exam in a similar manner (this was in my experience anyway) the information and process just becomes a lot easier.
I am a sucker for trying to stay motivated/ I am also procrastination queen. I will get two palm cards written and decided it’s time to check my Instagram feed, that NEVER changes. Why do I do this? Well I love getting distracted. I will Randomly decided that hey, maybe I should pluck my eyebrows riGHT NOW, or maybe it’s “I’ve just had lunch, but you know what, I need a study snack”. Either way, I’m god awful with staying on track and staying motivated. In terms of staying motivated I have discovered that aeroplane mode is good for more than just, you know, aeroplanes. I discovered this through my mate Mairead, who says that’s what she does when she goes to bed to stop Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram notifications from waking her, what a genius. So I gave it a whirl and whilst I have discovered that the wifi does indeed still work, I turned that off too and then well all my phone is good for is the time… which passes oh so slowly. To combat other distractions, like everything in my room! I have two solutions. I either start with a clean room. I mean clothes away, desk clean, bed made (so I don’t get back in it lol) and everything in it’s spot. I find that personally I can’t study in my room unless all this is done. It just eliminates most of the distractions; clean room, clean mind… or something. Alternatively, I’ll take myself away from my filthy room and go and study in the library. In the library the distractions are far more limited. (side note, if you don’t need your laptop don’t get it out, you’ll just here the tiny voice of Facebook coaxing you closer). And to combat the boring studying hungry feels, pack healthy snacks. Now I know it’s hard to believe, but I even did this?! I had carrots and hummus, some almonds, grapes and a few pieces of dark chocolate (well almost healthy, what did you expect?).I found that if I wasn’t hungry enough to have a flavourless almond then I wouldn’t snack as much as if I had a bag of lollies.
wow so now, three more fabulous tips:
5. Eliminate ALL possible distractions. By either turning your phone off, not using your laptop, or removing yourself from a distractive situation. Discover what is distracting you the most and get rid of it.
6. Find where you study most effectively, for me it’s the library. Yours might be the dining room table, the desk in your bedroom or for year 11 or 12 students, it might mean going to school and studying. Find a place that works and stick with it! (also your bed is not that place, trust me)
7. Plan your snacks. Okay sounds odd I know. But I know personally, if all I’ve got in my room is fruit, water, yogurt, popcorn, nuts and hummus that’s what I’ll eat. It’s important to avoid shoving your face with sugar (although it’s so so tempting, #guiltyas) your body needs something good every now and again. Healthy snacks are also how I avoid unnecessary snacking, because if I ain’t hungry enough to have a banana, I ain’t hungry.
Now I realise this post is getting lengthy, but bare with me I have a few more that may be helpful:
8. HAVE A REST. If you know me you know I love a good nap. Sometimes you need to take some me time during exams. Stop for an hour, watch an episode of your fav t.v show, go for a walk, have a nap. Just look after yourself. This also means not taking on too many things outside of school/ uni during the exam period, ie work.
9. Rescue Remedy. Okay controversial I know. But this little bottle of crap tasting stress relief works for me. I have the wonderful Mrs O to thank for introducing me to this. I know it well could be the placebo affect, but a few drops of this in my water each day keeps me sane. If I’m having a “I’m going to fail omg omg omg” moment, I’ll have some and some how I become calmer. This will not work for everyone one, but around exam time, I live on the stuff.
10. The night before an exam is usually the most stressful. Be sure to try (I know it’s hard) to sleep and not get to wrapped up on the upcoming exam. If it gets to 12am the night before an exam and you are still cramming, stop. My theory is, if I don’t know it by now, I’m not going to learn it. Especially in the emotionally drained state I am usually in the night prior. GO TO BED.
11. Remember, these results are not the be all and end all. Exam results will NEVER define you or your success or your intelligence. Remember that everyone learns differently and exam conditions do not work for everyone. “If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”
You ability to succeed does not at all directly correlate to the exam score you got back when you were 16, 18, 20 or even 99. So breathe.
I hope you got something from this post, I know it’s 1500 words plus, but if my (crappy) experience can help at least one person, and make you all have a giggle at my stupidity (whilst you all procrastinate), I’ll be happy!
Good luck everyone, I have faith in each and every one of you.
Thanks for reading,