T minus 7: countdown to your first exam

For most of you, the exam season has begun. If the mere thought of sitting your first paper is bringing you out in a cold sweat, DON’T PANIC! Here are our top tips to guide you along the perilous path of examination prep, starting with 1 week to go…  

Do you leave your revision until the last minute? Or have you been at it since the end of Term 2? Either way there’s still plenty you can do to make sure your first exam goes as smoothly as possible.

1 week to go

Seven by Emi Yañez CC BY 2.0

Ideally, you should have done most of your revision by now and it should just be a case of consolidating your knowledge. If you’ve taken tonnes of books out of the Library and made reams of notes, now would be a good time to distil all of that down into a few key points for each topic. Writing a few key phrases on index cards or post it notes can really help to drill the information home – and if you know your stuff they should be enough to help you recall the detail.

If you haven’t started your revision (we’re not going to judge!), you’re going to have to be smart about what you try and cram in. Trying to learn a module’s worth of stuff in a week is never going to end well, so spend some time working out what’s most likely to come up and try and cover those topics in as much depth as you can. It is a gamble, but even if there’s a question that leaves you completely stumped, the likelihood is that you’ll make a better job of the ones you can answer, rather than having a half-hearted attempt at everything.

It’s also a good idea to start conserving your energy. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a few weeks STOP! Get some early nights and you’ll feel much better going into the exam room for the first time next week.

3 days to go

three by Jonathan Brodsky CC BY 2.0

Assuming you haven’t just started your revision (in which case, see above), hopefully, you’re feeling pretty confident about your topic. Now is a good time to have a look at some past papers, as you should be in a position to tackle the questions and, if you do come across anything that catches you out, you’ve still got time to go back over it. You could even have a go at a paper under exam conditions as this can really help hone your technique – although you might feel you’re already going to get more than enough practice in the next few weeks!

If your exam is in a room that you’ve never been in before, you might want to check it out a few days before, just to make sure you know exactly where you’re going. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your exam flustered and out of breath because you’ve been chasing around the maze that is Westwood campus for half an hour…

1 day to go

One by Daniel X. O'Neil CC BY 2.0

There’s going to be a limit to what you can take in at this point, so don’t try and learn anything new. Look over your consolidated notes and maybe ask a housemate or family member to test you on things like dates, vocabulary and formulas. It’s also an idea to rehearse any quotations you’ve memorised and make sure you have them word perfect.

Make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time and whatever you do, don’t stay up all night revising on the day before your exam. You don’t want to undo all the good work you’ve done up to this point by falling asleep on your paper!

The morning of your exam

Alarm Clock by Phalinn Ooi CC BY 2.0

Get up nice and early and make sure you eat a hearty breakfast, as there’s nothing more distracting in an exam than a rumbling stomach. Also, make sure you drink plenty of fluids – research suggests that being well hydrated can help improve grades, although it’s probably best not to overdo it.

Before you leave home, double check that you have any equipment you need and that you’re complying with the regulations on what you can take into the exam room.  Allow yourself plenty of time to get to campus and don’t forget to build in a contingency for any transport disasters. (This probably doesn’t apply to you if you live in Rootes.)

1 hour before

It is high time ~ Fünf vor Zwölf by Christian Schnettelker CC BY 2.0

As tempting as it is, try not to look at your notes – if you don’t know it now, you probably never will. Try and relax if you can; chatting with other students can help, but if this only makes you feel as though you haven’t revised enough/have revised the wrong things/aren’t as prepared as everyone else, take yourself off somewhere quiet. Some people find mindfulness techniques can help, but it’s really just about staying relaxed and focused, so whatever works for you, go for it!

The most important thing to remember is that preparing for exams doesn’t just mean knowing your topic inside out. So get organised and relieve yourself of some of the stress! Good luck!

Images:

5-4-3-2-1 Neon Countdown at Night 5-12-09 — IMG_3815Steven Depolo / CC BY 2.0

| seven | / Emi YañezCC BY 2.0

three / Jonathan BrodskyCC BY 2.0

One / Daniel X. O’NeilCC BY 2.0

Alarm Clock  / Phalinn OoiCC BY 2.0

It is high time / Fünf vor ZwölfChristian Schnettelker / CC BY 2.0

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