The January Exam Survival Guide

nerve exams

Exam week is upon us after a festive season of over-indulgence (So. Much. Free. Food – first years now appreciate this) and reckless abandon (having done absolutely no work); now the true reality of January exams is setting in. For those who don’t have them – GOOD FOR YOU – look away now and get back to your post-Christmas relaxation bliss. For those who do, we are in this together; and here are a few tips to help you stay focused and ward off that pesky procrastination.

Healthy choices: we’ve all been told this one million times, but so soon after Christmas when our wallets are empty, we might be tempted into all of those wonderful supermarket junk food deals. It’s worth spending a bit extra on healthy, filling alternatives to get you through long days spent in the library: brown bread, tuna, fruit, soup, porridge, cereal bars and the like for increased brain power and good feels. While junk food is quick and inexpensive, you’ll be left with the dreaded rumbling stomach approximately 1.5 hours into the mammoth study session you had planned. Similarly, while all-nighters may sometimes be necessary, doing so too often or too close to your exam/assessment date could really affect your performance on the day. Sleep well and set realistic morning alarms to maximise productivity and seize the day.

Step away from the phone: our iPhones are often our biggest downfall. Delete your social media apps for the duration of exam season. Turn it off and hide it in a safe place. Even give it to a flatmate and strictly instruct them not to hand it back for the next few hours (prepare to find 1000 stupid selfies on your camera roll in this eventuality). These extreme measures are sometimes necessary: just think of all the lost hours spent Instagram-stalking. Trawling through your cousin’s-best friend’s-new boyfriend’s-sister’s pictures does not lead to a First class degree.

Take ten minute breaks: when you feel your focus drifting off towards Facebook or the doomed Afternoon Nap and away from library books, set a timer for ten minutes and go wake yourself up. Make/buy yourself coffee, watch an episode of Adventure Time, call a friend for encouragement, splash yourself with ice water, go run up and down the stairs outside your flat. Do not think of bed.

Ward off cabin fever: do some group study every now and then. Sitting in your bedroom for days on end, or alone in the library silent floor, can grate on you and put a downer on the days and weeks leading up to exams. This bright idea can go wrong, however; i.e it could just wind up being a gossip session and end in you all shouting YOLO, throwing your books in the bin and eloping to Sprinkles, but also it can be really useful to swap ideas for a fresh perspective on what you’re studying and help each other out with tricky subjects.

Make a list of great stuff to look forward to after exams: motivation to work hard for the meantime and play hard afterwards makes all the difference. Write a to-do list of all your exam preparation for your pin board; then write another to go next to it of all the great things you’ll do when freedom is upon you. Organise a course social to celebrate the last exam; book some gig or theatre tickets; plan to treat yourself to something nice that you’ve wanted for ages. You deserve it! Go team!!

Lastly: follow your own advice. (This point is for me.)

Good luck everybody!