We asked Cambridge students their tips for surviving Easter term
Procrastination? We don’t know what that is
While this Easter term marks things starting to get back to normal again (did someone say clubs were re-opening? )- it also brings exams (ewww). So, if you still haven’t caught up on those Lent (or Michaelmas) lectures, or don’t know where to start, then this article’s for you.
Here are 12 tips to help get you through Easter term.
1) Test out different work environments
Whether you need complete silence or background noise, alone time, or people around you, finding the right environment for you is essential. New ideas of places to work include the kitchen, the outdoors, libraries, and even a piano (though, as I found out, it’s not for everyone). Being in the right environment will improve your efficiency and concentration.
2) Organisation is key
Having all your notes in one place can make your life a lot easier when it comes to revision- especially when the exams are online and open book. Pens- check. Highlighters- check. Colour coded alphabetical notes- check. Even the smallest things can help you feel more confident when preparing for exams. Plus, organising work in files (online or hardcopy) prevents the last-minute where-the-hell-is-that-information panic (we’ve all been there and it’s not fun).
3) List your priorities
Set goals for what you want to achieve and get out of your revision. A study by Dr. Gail Matthews has shown that physically writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them, plus they’ll also help you to organise your time. Place your goals in as big a font as possible somewhere visible, and don’t forget a motivational message to hype yourself up!
4) Time management and scheduling are your friends
Although it may be tempting to cram in as much work as possible, setting unrealistic targets and timelines can cause anxiety if you fail to meet them. Pace out your work over a period of time, rather than leaving it to the last minute. I know that all-nighter the day before the exam sounds enticing, but this will make you feel more confident in your revision and should ease your workload the closer you get to exams.
5) Reviewing supervision work and past papers
As painful as revisiting those supervisors comments can be, you need to find out which topics you are stronger in and which you need to spend more time on. Plus DO NOT forget past papers. These can highlight your strengths and weaknesses, and help you prepare for time constraints (though if you’re doing 24h exams maybe don’t spend too long on them).
6) Don’t forget to take breaks
Put those breaks in your revision timetable. Working 24/7 may give you a weird flex, but will not help your mental and academic wellbeing. Set alarms for your breaks or download apps like Focus Keeper. Also, don’t forget to make plans of what to do during breaks- for those in Cambridge, I hear walking to Grantchester, having a photoshoot with the cows and popping to Mainsburys is fun. Plus, catching up with a friend will ensure that you don’t put off taking breaks.
7) Find something non-academic to help you relax
As much as we love Toope’s academic rigour, we need something else to focus on. Why not go out on walks with friends, play sports, get involved in the theatre scene or binge-watch reality tv and period dramas? (I can also personally recommend writing for The Tab) In short, make sure you set time aside to do things that make you feel happy. Everybody needs a bit of TLC.
8) Find study groups or a study buddy to provide support and motivation
This approach may not be helpful to everyone, but finding a group or someone to work with can make revision feel less isolating. Maybe work with people from your course so that you can share notes or support each other on difficult topics? Remember not to compare yourself to them though!
9) Get that sleep
It’s not abnormal as a student to have a pretty messed up sleep pattern (did anyone else turn nocturnal when lectures went online?) But if there was ever a time to fix your sleep pattern, now is better than never. Studies have shown that better quality, longer duration, and greater consistency of sleep correlate with better grades.
So if exam anxiety is keeping you up try downloading sleep apps like Calm or looking into Sleep Station (there are lots of options out there!) If you are still struggling there’s no harm in contacting your GP.
10) Staying hydrated and eating healthily
Eating healthily and staying hydrated can seem like a chore when it’s crunch time. But looking after yourself can help relieve tiredness, headaches and can increase your alertness and concentration levels. An easier option for staying fuelled is prepping meals that can be microwaved or cooked later (added bonus is that you can identify as one of those organised ‘meal preppers’). Or you could keep a bottle of water or snacks like fruit close by whilst revising.
11) Don’t be too harsh on yourself
It’s okay if you haven’t crammed in all the work you set yourself, or worked as many hours as your peers. Everyone works differently, and there’s no point in focusing on what other people have or haven’t done. At the end of the day, you’re here to celebrate your own merit and achievements.
12) If exams or life in general starts to get too stressful don’t suffer in silence
Your wellbeing must always take priority. If you feel you’re struggling to cope due to exams or any other personal challenges it’s important to reach out for support. People you might approach can include friends, your tutor, DoS, the University Counselling Service or wellbeing staff.
I hope these top tips will help you feel more confident in managing the term ahead. Best of luck to everyone through exam season!
Feature image credit: Thea Melton
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