1: Find revision techniques that work for you
For me, as embarrassing as this is to say, the most effective revision technique was making YouTube style tutorial videos.
Studies show that you learn best when you use the information you have gained, for example by teaching others; but unfortunately, in a university environment where everyone is revising for their own exams, you don’t have the luxury of finding a stranger and forcing them to listen to you ramble on about hydrodynamic bearing systems.
So I bought myself a dry-wipe board, a couple whiteboard markers and adopted a plastic straw as my pointer. Reading large amounts of text never gets me anywhere, but by making videos I can ensure that I actually understand the concepts taught in my modules. This also gives me something quick and easy to refer to if I get stuck on a certain topic.
They don’t need to be fancy at all, I did no editing whatsoever because no one besides myself will see them, and you don’t need a fancy camera, I just used my laptop webcam but your phone camera will do the trick too.
If you are fortunate enough to find someone who is actually willing to listen to you ramble on about thermodynamic isentropic efficiencies, use them! If someone with no knowledge of the subject can get the general idea of what it is you are trying to say, you can be sure that you make sense and so the chances are you know what it is you’re talking about. It helps if they aren’t on the same course as you because they might even ask questions that might help to identify if there was something you misunderstood.
2: Organise your workspace
Even if it takes a day out of your revision it’s worth it. Having a clear and organised state of mind is heavily influenced by your environment. Ever ‘revised’ on your bed and lost your pen under the duvet then spun into a downward spiral of frustration and ended up being unproductive? Maybe that’s just me. But all of these little things build up, next thing you know you’ve answered one past paper question wrong and you start to convince yourself that you are going to fail.
Clean your environment so that things are easy to find, but also so that it isn’t easy for you to get distracted. Your workspace is your workspace, make it completely separate to your relaxing spot. Bring out whatever folders, notes, textbooks, stationery and equipment you need and have it ready for when you start working.
3: Take breaks
You already know this. Everybody knows this. So why do we think it’s okay to cram the night before an exam??? It doesn’t matter how little time you have, if you work for 5 hours straight without a break you WILL burn out and you WILL stress out! Don’t do it! Please!
4: Move your body
Not during your study periods of course, but when you take your breaks, don’t just binge in front of a screen watching your favourite series for hours on end- take a walk, do some exercise, meditate, have a one-man rave- whatever tickles your fancy, just get your body moving.
5: Art Therapy
If you start to feel your blood pressure rising and a headache brewing, don’t work through the oncoming stress, get rid of it. Colouring is the way I do this. According to The Independent, some adult colouring books are “created specifically to help you de-stress and re-focus the mind”. I received so many colouring books for my birthday (upon request of course) and they really do help me to calm down when I start to feel stressed out.
6: Reflect & Review
At the end of your session, reflect on what you’ve learnt, go over topics briefly to ensure you fully understand everything you covered. It helps you to feel more productive too by looking back on everything you’ve done.
7: Catch some Zzzz
Not too much of course. But make sure to get your eight hours. The time at which you sleep is irrelevant, like most students you have probably completely messed up your sleeping pattern after a few all-nighters, but do ensure that you get enough sleep within a 24-hour period. If like me you’re grumpy when you’re tired this isn’t going to miraculously change during exam season and it will have an impact on your productivity and stress levels.
Eat regularly. Eat healthily. Snack a lot to keep you going. I know for most people exam season is when take-outs become your best friend if they weren’t already, this isn’t the best but let’s be honest, no one has time to whip up a healthy meal EVERY night when they have exams piling up, so I do my best to have healthy snacks and drinks to try to make up for it.
9: Stay hydrated
Coffee and energy drinks may be good if you’re trying to stay up all night but be sure to drink lots of water as well to flush out your system. A healthy mind requires a healthy body.
Dedicate each session to God, asking Him to guide you and lead you through your work. You know what your individual needs are, bring them to Him in faith. Stress is not from God, so ask Him to take it away.
“I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” -Psalm 16:8
I hope that some of these tips work for you. I can confidently say that the least stressful part of my second year at university was during my exam period. It was my goal to remain calm to help improve my achievements and I succeeded after adopting new methods and techniques and so as always, I thought it was only right that I share. All the best with your exams!