Friday 4 May 2018

Lifestyle | How to Survive Exam Season

Flatlay with Highlighters, scale rule, NRM2 Book and glasses

So this post is probably a little different to many of my others but being a mature student I've done my fair share of exams. Don't get me wrong they still stress me out but I've come up with ways to survive them with my sanity intact.

As this goes live I have just sat my first exam and university, after a 10 year break. You know what. I survived. I feel like it went well and I didn't have to spend every moment revising. I just had to be organised, strict with myself and tactical. Here are my tips to survive exam season.

NRM1 & NRM2 Exam Books, Clear Pencil Case, Calculator, Highlighters and Glasses

Plan Ahead

Rather than cramming a few days before the exam, plan your revision in small chunks in the weeks, even months, leading up to the exam itself. You're more likely to retain the information over time than in an over-worked stressed cramming session in the days before. You're also likely to burn your brain out - I used to do this so much and i'd be stupidly tired and hating the exam subject before I even went in.

The Eight Hour Rule

Eight hours of sleep will be a god-send on exam day. Don't stay up late cramming. Don't stay up late playing games or watching Netflix. Switch off and rest your brain because chances are you're going to really work it the next day.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Being early is critical to removing exam stress. You don't want to be running late to your exam because it will stress you out unnecessarily and put your mind in a flustered and panicked state which can affect your exam performance. I'd say get to your exam at least 30 minutes beforehand and take the extra time to calmly sit down and run through last bits of revision in your head.

Know What to Expect

This is a major prep for me when it comes to exams. I like to find the location of the exam before the day and ask my tutors of how the exam will run. I find out if I'm allowed drinks/snacks and what processes I have to go through before the exam starts. I also look at past papers so I know what to expect from the exam itself. 

I know that I can't leave in the first or last 30 minutes, under any circumstances. I know that I can take water in a plain bottle and some snacks - I mean it is 3 hours long! Toilet breaks will be escorted by an invigilator and when the exam is over the papers will be counted and any rubbish collected and kept - yes kept - for a number of weeks after with identification tags of the exam date and time. 

I also know I can't sit my exam without my student ID card. 

It's really important to not be caught out by unexpected events that you could have known.

Think Tactically

My first uni exam is a 3 hour exam with 2 parts. A measurement exercise worth 70% of the marks and a written question worth 30% of the marks. 

My exam is 180 minutes long meaning that 126 minutes - 70% - should be spent on the measurement question and 54 minutes - 30% - on the written question. 

As the measurement part is complex and I'm going to approach the exam with the written question first and then the measurement part as it will be hard to pick up the measurement if I stop because of time. Usually I would recommend heading to the big mark questions first and tackling those as the smaller questions are typically quicker and easier to answer if you're running low on time. 


Eating normally will be a key part in exam success. If you have a morning exam and usually skip breakfast, make sure you have some on exam day as food will fuel your brain. Stay away from overly sugary breakfasts which will likely result in a sugar-low during the exam. Go for sustainable breakfasts like eggs with spinach and wholemeal bread or wholegrain cereals.

Portrait books, glasses, highlighters and vase of eucalyptus

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