Don’t Panic! The Idiot’s Guide to Surviving Exam Season

Keep Calm and Read The Tab

You’re reading this, which means you’re probably procrastinating instead of battling against another hour of revision, or better still, putting off getting started.

Having loomed over the Christmas break and spoiling your enjoyment of crap telly and warm lager, exams are now upon students across the country and promise to spoil your January more thoroughly than a dose of chlamydia or mouldy student-flat ceiling.

Pictured: You (Twitter)


But help is on hand! As someone who’d rather walk over hot coals than engage with the revision notes mocking her, untouched, on the desk, I consider myself an expert in surviving the exam period with a minimum of stress, a total of zero late-night crying sessions over unopened textbooks and (shock! horror!) possibly even the remnants of a social life.

So sit back, make yourself a well-earned brew and turn your howls of frustration into exclamations of joy with this, The Tab’s guide to getting through exams with your sanity (mostly) intact.


LESSON NO. 1 – Make a revision timetable

Maybe a little less ‘serial killer’ than this. (Flickr)

This seemingly twee piece of advice might seem like a drain on your valuable few days left to cram, but in reality making a timetable lets you whip out the highlighters and glitter gel pens to make a technicolor masterpiece.

By replacing the bright lights of Fabric with a neon yellow square reading ‘PSYCHOLOGY: HELP ME PLEASE’ you can not only sate your need for colourful stimulation, but can divide your time up in a tangible, easy to follow way.  If an actual plan of attack is down on paper glaring right at you, then theoretically you should feel guilty for pissing around on Facebook when you know you should be circling bits of equations.


LESSON NO. 2 – Eat a balanced diet

Please just have some solids at some point (Twitter)

Quite simply, RED BULL AND CHIPS IS NOT A BALANCED DIET. Finding time to eat nutritious and tasty meals will not only, in the vaguest of scientific terms, keep you mind ticking over, but the sense of routine will help stabilise your shaky grip on normality. Three meals a day plus lots of complex carbohydrates, veggies and protein equals (as I’m sure you might realise having gone through high-school food tech) that big fat sense of smugness that I’m sure you’re entitled to.

On the other hand, don’t start inhaling kale through your nostrils and going on some regimented diet in an attempt to transform into a super-food enhanced Superman. Periods of intense stress are not the time to be depriving yourself of comfort food, and the friends you haven’t driven away with your wild-eyed panic will run for the hills when faced with that most pretentious of people, the food bore.


LESSON NO. 3 – Chill the hell out


Not this (Twitter)

So, it’s exams – wow, you must be the very first student to ever have to sit them! Sometimes the most helpful thing to do in terms of dealing with stress is to remember that you’re not alone. Get out of the library and just relax every now and again. Go swimming, take a walk, dress in your girlfriend’s underwear and sing along to Simon and Garfunkel – nobody here’s judging you. (We’re all judging you, it’s The Tab -Ed.)

Obviously don’t spend all of your remaining time doing the above, otherwise you probably will fail and get unceremoniously chased out of the department by a pack of angry lecturers. But by giving yourself a little treat every now and again (who’s a good boy?) then you’ll prevent the inevitable burnout that comes with total immersion into revision.

LESSON NO. 4 – Read the syllabus (and for crying out loud, read the paper!)


Unless you want to do this instead. Actually yeah, do this. (Twitter)

We’ve all been there. With the sheer range of topics that make up your degree, it would be so easy to get muddled, revise the wrong thing and come out of your exam having had to bluff your way through a topic you have little or no recollection of. This is stupid and you will get no sympathy from me – after all, you might as well have spent the time spent revising the WRONG BLOODY THING, painting your nails, or flirting with the adorably geeky international student for whom the exams don’t count. Bad you, sit on the naughty step and weep at your own ineptitude.

Likewise, read the paper before you start to scribble down your answers in a blind panic, otherwise you might be haunted for years to come about the time you ballsed up your A2 Religious Studies paper by writing an essay not on Aristotle, as was expected, but on Plato (This is not a random example. It still hurts). For the sake of five minutes of reading time, it’s really not worth the mortification.

LESSON NO. 5 – Avoid, at all costs, the humblebrag

Yep, that’s one. (Twitter)

Think before you launch into the whole ‘my exams are SO challenging, I’m sure to fail because I took Physics/Mathemathics/Chemical Engineering instead of a doss subject’ spiel, especially around the Arts or Humanities student who may have stayed up all night trying to speed-read Finnegan’s Wake and might be tempted to punt your arrogant, STEM-privileged arse right into the middle of the nearest dual carriageway.

The same applies to flaunting your perceived top-level university status – UCL students, you think you’re so very much better than anyone else? Prove it by not regaling your Manchester Met mates with horror stories about how much more strenuous your exams are than theirs, that’s a good little pseudo-intellectual. Otherwise, someone might just wish a low Third on you, and karma’s a bitch.

LESSON NO. 6 – This too, will pass

Something lame about storms and rainbows (Twitter)

The sentiment might be pinched from Game of Thrones, but don’t take this as permission to sit and binge-watch Netflix in bed. Just get your lazy arse down to some hard graft for a couple of weeks and justify why you’ve borrowed thousands of quid to go to university in the first place. It’ll all be over soon, and then you can party on down without getting palpitations every time results day is mentioned.

So there you have it, a failsafe guide to surviving the exam season – we’re all rooting for you. Work hard, keep calm and I’ll see you in the bar for a well-earned pint when all of this has blown over.