Tips to survive exam season!
Aren’t exams just the worst? I have been doing exams every January and May – June since 2010, its practically second nature to me, and the library a second home (not a nice one like somewhere in the south of France, sadly).
I feel therefore that I am somewhat of an authority on revision, exam prep, flashcards and colour coding. So, as January exams approach again I want to share some of this with you, in the hopes that it might just get you those extra marks you need. P.s Top marks for anyone who can guess what degree I did!
- My first bit of advice is to clear your desk, find somewhere quiet and to try and organise your mind as well as your work. Find out how much you need to do and the time frame that you have to do it in! Got an exam in 2 weeks? lets do 7 days of going over class notes and re writing them, 2 days of mind maps, 2 days of practise papers, 1 day of quote making, 1 day of flash cards and one day to consolidate this all. Easy.
- My next top tip is probably an obvious one (and I do apologise if I sound like your mum) but dear Lord please get some sleep. Sleep is your best friend, pro plus is great, but sleep is better. Do socialise, but don’t stay out till 3am, get wrecked and then try to get to library for 9am. It won’t happen, and if you throw up in the toilet you will be on a most wanted poster by lunchtime.
- Talk to people. Talk to friends in your classes, talk to your housemates or your parents, talk to your teacher and tutors. Everyone is there to help you. Talking though ideas and exam practise answers and plans will help make them stick in your head. Talking to people who are doing the same exam as you, and finding out what they’re focusing on is another great way to cut down your workload. A job shared is a job halved, and a essay plan copy and pasted is a pint when its all over.
- Got a diary? Great, use it. make sure you know WHEN and WHERE your exams are, as well as your seat number. Mixing up exam dates it potentially lethal, and can throw you off your whole revision groove. Make sure you have enough time to get everything done between your exam dates!
- Dont neglect yourself. Eat. Drink. See other human beings. Try and see some sunlight. In my finals I had an exam that I took home and had to complete within 48 hours, in preparation for this I mad a huge pot of spaghetti bolognese which lasted me for lunch and dinner for 2 days. This saved me time and made sure I actually ate!
- Take food with you if you’re going out, nothing slows you down more that lack of energy and a rumbling tummy.
- Highlighters are you best mate, I swear by them. Go through you class notes and highlight any useful quotes, go through you books and get anything you want to get in an essay highlighted. This way, when you need to write and essay plan you can easily see what and where a quote is from.
- Have a start and end time because working from 7am-10pm is practically torture and you may as well be in a gulag. Have a start time, have some point that you need to be finished by. For me I always tried to do 9-5 and had an hour lunchtime. This meant that afterwards I still had time to hit the gym and see friends and didn’t lose my humanity
- If you need to go to the library then go early, claim your spot, scent mark it, and never leave.
How to prepare for an essay or exam question step by step
- Go through you notes from class, work out which ones are the key points from each session and write them up in your own revision note book. Make sure that in another book you’re writing down the key quotes, don’t get quotes and content confused.
- Go through books and papers, take the general arguments and write these in your note book and direct quotes into your quote book.
- Then assess the past papers and try and create some topic areas that might come up, and them create a mind map for each topic area, with content and quotes.
- Write up a plan for each paragraph for questions from past papers, give each paragraph a title (e.g. for, against, social, economic, political) and write down 4 or 5 bullet points for each and then a quote or scholar who fitted into each.
- Compare with a friend!
Wishing everyone who is going to be hitting this exam season the best of luck, its shit, but you got this.
P.s. thank you to Emma for being my library buddy for 3 years, and for hundreds of exam past papers, I wouldn’t have a degree without you.