Exams are exhausting and at times seem never-ending. You lose your usual routine and find yourself facing an overwhelming to-do list with too many facts and concepts to squeeze into your brain with too little time to prepare. I just finished my mock a level exams and the whole process was honestly so draining and stressful but somehow I managed to keep a (somewhat) positive attitude throughout. Here, I have noted down some things that helped me out and kept me calm in case anyone out there needed some tips.
#1 how to revise…
To prevent losing my focus, I always vary how I revise my work. If I am learning for an essay subject, I find that the best way to prepare is creating detailed plans. I always like to make huge A3 mindmaps stuffed with quotes, context, ideas, conclusions then I highlight as much as my heart desires. For essays, I always spend some time making sure that I am confident with my technique. I make some notes on how to structure my argument and what I need to include to reach the top band to ensure that my answer is coherent and exactly what the examiner is looking for.
To consolidate my knowledge, repetition is key. Flashcards are the best. Rather than reading notes over and over again and not retaining any facts, testing yourself constantly is how you succeed in your subject. Just keep them in your bag and flick through them on the bus on the way to school or whenever you can and you will find that your memory will improve in no time.
Recently, I have become aware of how useful the app quizlet is. I love that you can make tests, play games and import from word documents. It feels a lot more accessible and quicker to use than spending a lot of time writing out information on cards. I have the app on my phone and force myself to log on when I’m on the tube or have a spare few minutes. Honestly, having all of my subjects in one place is such a lifesaver!
If I’m trying to remember dates for history, I write the key times out on post-it notes and stick them across a wall in my bedroom to create a mammoth timeline. It means that I can always refer to it and very quickly the information becomes very familiar, helping me remember exactly what happened when.
If I can, I always love having a discussion with someone else doing my subject. Sharing your ideas and reminding each other of the main points helps you realise exactly what you’ve forgotten and ensures that you’re not just sitting at a desk all day every day.
#2 where to work…
A lot of my friends love to go to the local library to get a break from their bedroom and bump into others they know. This is great to get a fresh perspective and get out of the house. But, during mocks, it was a bit of a trek for me as I would have to get the bus and it just wouldn’t have been possible to carry all of my resources. Instead, I stayed at home and sometimes headed into school. Being at home meant I could keep a massive mug of coffee by me 24/7, put on a vinyl record (usually something classical) and wear the comfiest clothes to make it all a little more attractive.
Making my workspace clean and tidy made my revision more appealing and as much as possible I tried to prevent forming a mountain of papers on my desk. If you are finding it tricky to concentrate, I would recommend trying to locate a different study space and see if it helps!
#3 how to keep calm…
Planning your time will help you keep up on your work. But, sometimes I find that if you organise your time too much and have a plan for every second then it is easy to fall behind when unexpected events come up and this can make you panic. Therefore, I just write down some tasks that I need to complete at the start of the day and work my way through them. I always write a post-it note if there is something that I missed and need to remind myself of. I prioritise by revising the topic that I would least like to come up first to ensure I’m confident with everything. I don’t keep a fancy bullet journal (I wish I had the artistic talent) or create huge timetables as I think that would just make me stress out more. Keeping it simple but having a clear plan is how I do it. I wake up early to get things done as I think I’m most productive in the morning and this means that I get the evening to relax. I normally watch a film, read a book or go out with a friend to get a break from revision.
During exam periods and the lead up to them, I try to get out of the house every day. I normally go for a run or a walk to get some breathing space and prevent burning out. I use the break to listen to my favourite podcasts or the music I’m loving at the time. If I was at my desk every second of every day, I think I would lose my mind. It is so important to me to get some fresh air and think about something else apart from destalinisation or whether the Duchess of Malfi has a moral ending. I also love to meet a friend for lunch or go for a coffee in the afternoon to break up my revision on days when I’m losing my focus.
Always remind yourself that you will be more productive if you take breaks. Keep a positive mindset and stay calm. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Do you have any study tips? Do you use flashcards or do you have other techniques? Leave them in the comments!