There are some things in life that are solid, concrete, aspects of knowledge. The world is not flat, putting metal in the microwave is bad, that kind of thing. One these solid pieces of knowledge is that exams are stressful. I, like a lot of people, seem to think that I am the only person who gets ridiculously stressed over the prospect of an exam. Fact is, everyone– no matter how young or old, intellectual or practical- finds exams stressful. Over the past decade I have taken a lot of exams, and now that my time in education is over, I feel I should share a few of my top tips for dealing with exam stress.
1: Try not to overthink
If anyone who knows me reads this blog, they’ll laugh at this one. I am the self-confessed queen of overthinking. I can’t help it, it’s like overthinking is part of my anatomy. I have discovered however, that overthinking an exam is pointless. If you revise and work hard, you’ll do fine. Chances are, you know more than you think you do.
2: Make revising as fun as possible
I know you’ll all snigger at this one. How can revising be fun, you ask? Well, to be frank with you, it isn’t every going to be fun. But, you can make it more enjoyable. I’m not going to tell you to make up songs to help you remember the anatomy of a frog or whatever, because honestly that sounds more stressful than just plain old revising. But I find making a colour-coded system, using nice stickers and pretty notebooks, and having fun shaped post-it notes actually makes revision slightly less boring.
3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I’m going to be completely honest with you here: I hate asking for help. Mainly because I’m incredibly introverted, especially with people who intimidate me (uni tutors are super intimidating, they’re so clever its scary) but I have learnt over the years that asking for help is a necessary part of life. There’s nothing to be ashamed about, everyone needs help sometimes. Just bite the bullet and ask the question, nobody will laugh at you (and if they do, tell them to go and fuck themselves and find someone nicer).
4: Stay organised
In my first year of university, I was friends with a boy who would literally lose his head if it wasn’t attached to him. He was easily the most unorganised person I had ever met, and come exam time, he was completely clueless. He couldn’t find any of his notes, lost half of his books, and arrived to the exam without any pens. He left the exam in the first half hour in floods of tears. Moral of the story: stay organised, and you’ll be totally fine.
5: Last but not least: take breaks
Everyone knows by now that working non-stop is not a good idea. It’s bad for your brain, your emotional state, and your health. Take frequent breaks, drink plenty of water (coming from the girl whose blood is 90% coffee at this point) and make sure you eat and sleep. Passing an exam is pointless if you die immediately after (dramatic but true).
Most importantly, remember that although exams might feel like the end of the world, they aren’t. Yes, failing is an inconvenience, but it doesn’t mean your life is over. I have faith in you, little one.
Good luck to everyone taking exams, you can (and will) pass with flying colours!