20 May 2015

Exam Stress and Study Tips

Hey guys!

So with my summer end of year exams looming around the corner ie they’re starting next week!! I thought it would be a good time to write about a post about dealing with exam stress and just a few helpers for how to study. Now, I have to admit that I could be called somewhat of a nerd. I like to do well and I’m only happy if I know I’ve done the best I could have done. Because of that I do tend to get a bit stressed out around exam times, as any member of my family will tell you. So basically these are just a few things I’ve picked up over my years of swotting.

Dealing with exam stress

1.     Don’t freak out
 Ok so first off the most important thing to remember is that these exams aren’t everything. Yes, when you’re doing your Junior/Leaving Cert or whatever the equivalent in your country is, it might seem like doing badly would be the end of the world and you actually just like really can’t go on; but it’s not. I know for me this is the most difficult thing to do because I don’t like to do badly in any test, be it class test, Christmas/summer exams or state exams. But sometimes you've just got to remember that if you’re disappointed with a result it just means next time you’ll work harder and improve. I guess this can’t really be applied to the Leaving Cert/A Levels (unless you repeat) but still there are always other ways to get into the course you want, even if it takes a bit longer. If it’s what you really want to do it’ll be worth it.

2.     Be prepared
This is definitely one of the things that helps me most. I like to be really organised and that way I study way better. The week before I want to start studying I go through all my subjects and write out all the topics I need to cover in each one. Then every week I plan which subject I want to study every day and write it in my homework journal. Preparation really is key and this way I don’t spend 10 minutes each day just figuring out what I’m going to study.

3.     Take time off
I know that sometimes when you’re trying to cram all the knowledge in the weeks leading up to an exam you may think it’s better to just keep going, but taking breaks will actually help you. At the weekends I like to go for a run or a walk to get some air and on school nights I do some 10 minute work outs during a study break. I also like to just watch YouTube videos for a bit of time out in between study times.

Study tips

1.     Firstly, as I already mentioned above, being organised is so so important. I’m definitely a ‘write out a list’ kind of person. Seriously I write out lists of what I want to do like every day. But knowing what I’ve done and what I have left to do helps me stay focused. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail as they say!

2.     Study in time slots. I know that this doesn’t work for everyone as some people like to study by topic instead of by time, but timing my study helps me tons. I normally set an alarm for 40 minutes then take a break. If I’m just relaxing at the break I set my alarm for a 10 minute break but if I’m doing something else like exercising, then I don’t. It is probably better to time your breaks too though cause I always end up taking way more time off than I meant too!

3.     Look up past exam questions. Sometimes when you’ve just got a whole pile of notes and you don’t really know what’s important and what’s not it can be really helpful to look up past/sample papers. This way you’ll figure out the type of question often asked and how they ask it. It’s also a good idea to look at some sample answers so you can figure the kind of things the examiner will be looking for.

4.     Test yourself. It’s easy to read through your notes and try to memorise them but if you want to make sure you really know your stuff, testing yourself is essential. Try closing your book and speaking the notes aloud to yourself. Even better, write out questions as your studying and at the end go back and try to answer them.

5.     Know your weaknesses. If you’ve got a subject that you know you’re really not confident in then make sure to spend extra time on it. Generally, it’s the subject you’re most worried about failing! Plan to study it on your least busy day so you can take your time going over the tricky bits.

Well, hopefully this is in some way helpful to somebody. To be honest, I should probably start taking my own advice, feeling pretty stressed out at the moment! But the exams will be over soon and then it's summer, so trying just looking forward to that!!

Catriona xo

*All pictures from Google Images

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