Dealing with Exam Stress: Top Tips for Revision

It’s that dreaded time of year once again! Yes, exam season has officially arrived…don’t panic! There may be a screaming baby in the cot and a pile of revision a mountain high; but deep breathes, everything is manageable. You may feel overwhelmed at the moment, but with a few easy steps, you can get everything under control and achieve the grades you deserve (screaming baby or no screaming baby!) Here are some top revision tips to get you by.

Preparation is key!

Put in the ground work early and it will pay of dividends; here’s a few things to look out for before you start:-

  • Find a place to study

Creating the perfect conditions to get those creative juices flowing can be important. Make sure you choose somewhere that you are comfortable; that is quiet and has no temptations close to hand…perhaps not in the vicinity of the television for example! Work our whether you work best in the library, at home, in the garden..wherever as long as it makes you productive. Make sure your don’t have nappies or rattles all over your desk. You need a child -free zone! A space that’s just for you!

  • Make a plan, Stan!
It’s easy to feel many notes, exam dates getting closer…but it’s time you took control. The best way to stay calm is to make a revision timetable; that way you can carve your revision up into manageable chunks and chart your progress. But the point is to be realistic!! Don’t plan 12 hour days of solid just won’t stick to it!! Especially with a little one running around, it’s important to separate home time and study time. If you know you have a childminder available say 3 afternoons a week, then make sure you knuckle down during your ‘alone time’. You never know when unforeseen issues such as your baby getting ill, will get in the way. Therefore it’s important you have a contingency plan and update your timetable as you go to reflect your circumstances. Though if you can try and book some revision time in everyday, but make sure to plan some time off to see friends or for a hobby – yes, you are allowed some ‘you’ time! If you plan it in, you won’t feel as guilty and if you stick to your schedule, time off with your little one will feel like a reward after all your hard work. Also, if you find certain topics harder than others, make sure to give yourself more time to revise them. Your timetable is all about what suits you, not your friends. Put it up on your wall somewhere visible, and tick things off when you’ve completed will feel so good and make everything more manageable and less scary. Positive thinking goes a long way!!!
  • Find a reliable childminder
It’s a stressful time and the last thing you need is a screaming baby while you are trying to concentrate! If it’s possible, ask family and friends if they wouldn’t mind looking after your baby for a few hours to give you break to get your head down into that pile of books that’s been gathering dust in the corner. A support network is vital at this time. Even if it only allows you a few free hours, use the peace and quiet to your advantage.
  • The early bird catches the worm
Unfortunately for those of you who love a lie in, the old proverb is true: getting up early means you get the most out of the day. Though for those of you with a newborn this is unlikely to be a problem!! Imagine how much revision you can get done when you’re getting up at 6am!! (yes every cloud has a sliver lining! ) Try and make the most out of nap times as you may be preoccupied for the most of the day.

Getting down to it!

There is no set way to revise: different techniques work for different people. Here are a few options for you to try and see which one suits you the most. Perhaps even a combination of methods works best. It’s important to remember that it is your revision – do what is most likely to help those key facts sink in!

  • For a lucky few, reading through lecture notes is enough for everything to sink in, but for the rest of us, its about turning those notes into useful revision tools. Why not make prompt cards with the key facts and pin them up on your wall or around the house so you can see them as you go about your daily tasks. For some, visual aids such as diagrams and brainstorms at the most useful, whereas for others aural revision is the most successful. Why not record yourself saying your notes and play them back, or come up with some fun mnemonics to help you memorise.
  • For the pragmatists out there, working through old exam papers to get a feel of what is expected is the most useful. Usually similar questions will pop up over a number of years so you can see the type of questions that might crop us. Be careful though when predicting questions! That’s the thing with exams, every now and again they will throw a curve ball, so make sure you have a grasp of the whole topic so you can handle whatever comes you way. Don’t just bank on certain topics coming up, ever heard of sod’s law!
  • Often it helps saying your thought out loud. Why not buddy up with a friends on occasion, share notes and discuss any problems  that might crop up out of your notes.

All work and no play…

  • …makes you frazzled!
Look after yourself! This is especially important to give you enough energy to run after your toddler, never mind concentration that is required to revise on top! With so many claims on your time it’s important you find time to rest as well as study. Make sure you factor in breaks – its recommended every half hour or so, even if that’s juts going to make a cuppa.  Remember, exams are important..but you do still have a life and there are more things. Though for student parents the art prioritising should bey now be firmly in the bag.
  • Exercise your body as well as your mind
Going for a jog or any kind of exercise is a great way of switching off and renewing your energy levels (no, running round frantically after little Jim who had escaped in the park doesn’t count!). Get that adrenaline flowing and you will feel more pumped to take on that next revision topic. You don’t need to feel guilty about exercising when you should be revising; you will benefit in the long run and if you factor exercise into your timetable it shouldn’t be a problem! Getting some fresh air is always good for you, so a quick trip to the playground will not only be fun for your little one, but will also benefit you in the long run.
  • You are what you eat!
Step away from the junk-food!! You need to keep your energy levels up to maintain concentration so it’s important you eat healthy foods full of vitamins to give you a boost! Its equally important what you drink. While you may be reaching for the coffee and red bull; caffeine will only give you a temporary boost. What you need it to keep a bottle of water by your desk to keep you hydrated.  It goes without saying – alcohol is a no-no!! Save that for your last exam, then you can have as much as you like!!
  • Unplug and unwind 
While regular breaks are recommended, it would be much more beneficial to have a 10 minute walk in the fresh air then roaming in the internet or Facebook – the den of procrastination! How many times have you popped on ‘just for a couple of minute’ and found yourself hours later stalking ex’s or going through an old friends’s photo albums. Remove the temptation! You will only kick yourself later when you find you’ve wasted precious hours of revision doing..what exactly??

 Cram! Cram! Cram!

It’s getting down to the wire! Although time may be short, you can still make a difference to your grade. Try and prioritise; do what you can.

  • Go through your prompt cards and diagrams
  • Keep calm! Go through what you already know instead of trying to cram in extra information at this late stage, it will only confuse you in the exam room.
  • Whatever you do – don’t stay up all night revising; being overtired will not help you to do your best!

On the big day!

It is natural to feel nervous before an examination. Remember, don’t panic! Getting in a tizz will only make matters worse – deep breathes..after all you can only do your best!

  • Make sure you are well prepared, have your exam timetable to hand. Make sure you arrive in good time – there’s nothing worse than being in a rush. Perhaps get your partner or friend to look after the baby that morning to give you a clear head from the start.
  • Everyone around you is in the same boat – remember you are not alone
  • Think – what exactly is the worst thing that can happen! So you fail the exam? There will always be an option to resit.
  • Most importantly – think positive!

Remember…you can do it!!!

I hope this helps! Good luck everyone.


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1 Comment

  1. This is a bloody good post. I also think we can all relate to how much more exams must suck when you have to deal with children as well…although, maybe they can also be like a comforting influence at the end of the day?


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