The only exam season survival guide you will need
Exams don’t have to mean misery
January exams, that dreaded time of year where students everywhere are feeling stressed, sleep-deprived and questioning their choice in degree. While this difficult time is inevitable, here are our tips to make it a little bit easier.
Plan your revision
As obvious as it sounds, the best way to prepare for any exam is to revise!
We are all too familiar with that overwhelming feeling when you finally sit down to tackle revision, after procrastinating for the entire holiday, and realise that there is just far too much content to cover in a week.
Instead of leaving all your revision to pile up for last-minute cramming, take the time to sit down and plan your revision. Exams can be heavy-going so it is important to break down your revision, whether that's into subject categories or into areas you need to prioritise. Make a timetable and allocate time for specific revision weeks in advance to your exam. It is good to also timetable regular breaks. This will ensure you keep a healthy work-life balance and cover all necessary content, as well as enabling you to spend quality time on revision, making it much more effective.
Have a healthy sleeping pattern
All-nighters aren't always as fun as they sound.
Studies show that getting eight plus hours sleep a night results in a better functioning brain. Being well rested during exam season is essential for successful revision. Not only will you be more responsive to your work, you won't have to work as hard to remember information.
It can be helpful to go to sleep at a reasonable time the night before a revision day and set yourself an alarm in the morning to maximise your studying. You should stop working a couple of hours before you go to bed to allow your brain to settle down and ensure you get a good night's sleep. This is especially important for the night before an exam!
Have a dedicated study space
As tempting as a warm bed is, it isn't the most effective place to study.
It has been found that working in the same space as you spend your leisure time can psychologically impact your studies. This is because you subconsciously associate that particular space with leisure time, demotivating you to work, or vice-versa.
You should create a separate place to revise, whether that's at a desk in your room or at a library. It will be a space dedicated to study, creating a work environment and allowing you to concentrate on your work.
The Cardiff University student intranet provides online resources for finding a study space across campus.
Put your phone away
I'm sure you're just as guilty as I am for wasting hours scrolling through social media instead of revising, you deserve a quick break once you've written the title after all.
The most effective way to create a distraction-free environment is to turn your phone off or onto aeroplane mode and forget about the buzz of social media. Instead of picking your phone up every five minutes to check for notifications, you'll be able to focus on your work.
Just remember that the group chats and Facebook videos will still be there when you're done studying!
Keep hydrated and eat healthily
Drinking lots of water and eating well can be nothing but beneficial. Purchase an aesthetically pleasing water bottle if it'll motivate you to keep hydrated.
Having water with you when you study will encourage you to keep drinking it, and alongside healthy meals will keep you alert. Feeding your brain fuels effective revision, which sounds like an excuse for a trip to the Lidl bakery to me!
Next time you're tempted to reach for a caffeinated drink, keep in mind that water is a much healthier (and cheaper) alternative.
Get a change of scenery
Working for hours on end can lead you to feel sluggish and like there is no life beyond your four room walls.
Break up your revision by getting a change of scenery. Go for a walk through Bute Park or explore the city. Having a break and getting out of your study space can give your brain a breather and leave you feeling refreshed for when you do come back.
Take the time to see something different, you may even find a hidden gem you didn't know about.
Don't be afraid to seek assistance
Sometimes not fully understanding information for an exam can be daunting, but that shouldn't stop you from seeking help.
Your lecturers and university professors are, quite literally, experts at what they do and they are there if you need any help. There is no such thing as a 'stupid question' if it means it will help you gain an understanding of a topic. They can provide you with resources and explain topics in a way that is easier for you to understand. If you don't feel comfortable approaching a member of staff, you can always talk to your course mates for help.
There is also various support at the Student Support Centre on Park Place.
Whether it's a cosy night in with a cup of tea and a movie, or going out on the town with your friends, make sure you reward your revision with time to have fun!