So, you have exams on the horizon. I know it feels like there’s plenty of time to study but those months will rapidly turn into just weeks. You need motivation. You need a plan. And you need to start now!
Preparation leading up to exams
OK, you have a good few months before exams begin and need to start your preparation. The first thing I do is to make sure I have all my notes made for each subject. Then I see which exams I have first. Alternatively, I will see which subjects I need to focus on the most if the timetable isn’t released yet.
Whichever subject I am studying for, I will follow these 3 steps:
- Make notes
- Go over notes
- Practice exam questions.
I know this bit sounds draining and boring but this is where it all changes – all that hard work on making, understanding and memorizing notes is put into practice here.
The night before an exam
There is very little you can do at this point, in terms of studying, that will be effective. This is perhaps one of the most crucial stages in the lead up to an exam and people handle it in different ways. Some will stay up and revise all night, while others might go out and have a good time to release all the anxiety and stress of exam revision. Here are a few things that I do the night before an exam:
On the night before an exam, you can go over any keynotes you might have made, say on flashcards, as a means of revision. But don’t make pages of notes or do exam papers. This evening isn’t meant to be too taxing on the brain – you’ll need your brain for the exams remember.
It is important to relax and unwind in the evening. You could socialize with family or friends, watch a movie, listen to some music or just put your feet up with a book and a warm drink.
Something else I recommend and this is probably the most crucial one, is to have an early night ensuring you have a good night’s sleep and wake up energized. This means putting away the work and all electronics at least half an hour before.
So, it’s the day of the exam. Probably the most nervous day of your life so far. What should you do? Assuming that you followed the advice above, I’d say it is good to wake up nice and early giving you plenty of time to get ready and prepare.
Have a healthy and enjoyable breakfast to put you in a good mood and keep the brain going strong – you’ll need it today. Make sure you have all the equipment/stationary that you will need for the exam (Tip – It’s always good to take spares of everything in case they break.) And ensure you have plenty of time to get to the exam hall.
It also might be nice, if you have exams in the afternoon, to briskly go over some keynotes but nothing too heavy that’ll worsen your nerves or busy your mind. One of the key things to do is to keep calm and have a clear head. So when you go into the exam, you’ll be able to think straight and focus.
Time Management and Exam Timetables
One of the toughest things about exam season is managing your revision and pre-exam preparation when you have many exams that are timetabled back-to-back. Some of you might be fortunate enough to have them spaced out over a few weeks whereas others may have them all in the same week with only hour gaps between them.
One way to tackle this is to plan ahead and have your exams and revision sessions noted in an academic diary or calendar. This is so that you have a visual of how the period is spaced out. Then I use the logic approach of assigning more focus to the exam subject which I’ll be sitting first. E.g., Over the weekend I’ll spread out my revision and revise a bit for all my exams that week but say on Sunday I’ll focus my efforts more on whatever exam I have on the Monday.
There are some cases where I’ll override this rule and focus more on a different subject that may be later down the line if I’m significantly struggling with it more than others. This isn’t always an easy decision to make but you have to use your judgement and think if I were to sit them all now which one would I struggle with the most?
I hope this blog has helped, and good luck with your exams!
Read more student tips about revision and exams.