How to make Exam Hell, Exam Heaven

Exam hall

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a year 6 primary school pupil who’s about to sit SATS or a Post-Graduate University boffin revising for a Rocket Science paper next Tuesday. You’re probably anxious about the upcoming test, and how you’ll perform.

If your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on your sweater, Mom’s spaghetti… sorry we lost ourselves in a well known Eminem hit there for a second – anyway, fear not, help is at hand – with our special blog edition – How to make Exam Hell, Exam Heaven…

Have you ever seen any one skipping into school or college saying… ‘Yeeeessss!!! Exams. I love ’em. Can’t wait. If only every term could be the summer term.’

No. Neither have we.

None of us like exams. Probably because we’re told, day in, day out, that our whole future depends on how we perform. Exams do seem to exist to foster an aspiration in life, but they also foster attainment and that can be a good thing.

If you’re about to head into a set of exams and the anxiety has started to ramp up, our humble blog will help. We’ve brought together some of the best tips and will point you in the direction from whence they came.

The First Hurdle – Commit to study.

Unfortunately, there’s not really any shortcut to exam success. Making time to study is the way to learn, and doing the right amount is the key to it. But getting into the frame of mind to study can be difficult. With so many distractions (especially in the smartphone age) finding focus is hard.

In some old but brilliant advice the BBC’s ‘Exam’s Doctor’ suggests starting with a 10 minute work period, followed by a 10 minute break, then a 20 minute stint keeping to a 10 minute break…  so on and so forth, with 40 minutes study being the normal maximum. If your concentration holds beyond that you can go longer, but don’t risk burn out. Oh, best turn off the phone too.

Get Your Study Space Right

Topuniversities highlight (amongst other things) how your study environment is crucial. Make sure your space is private and rid of distractions – the campus canteen is definitely not the best place to cram. Also ensure you have enough room to spread out your notes, books and any ‘legitimate’ tech you might be using.

And don’t forget – if you need to make some room in your room during the run up to exams – our storage for students can help with that.

Try Studying at Different Times

The handy people over at the Daily Telegraph  have got some rather more off-the-wall suggestions for making more of your last minute revision. It’s all good stuff – including pearls of wisdom like snaking on Bananas (brain food). They also recommend trying revising at different times of the day, specifically in the morning, when the brain is at it’s most receptive.

Practice on Previous Exams

Another great tip from Topuniversities is to hone your skills on previous exam papers. Not only will it help reassure you that you know your topics, it will also get you in that exam frame of mind – so that you’ll be able to reel off the answers in a style that’ll get you marks – as well as getting a handle on how long to spend on each question.

Surviving Exam Stress

Exam stress is normal. But it can get out of hand. If you think you’re going to end up in a bit of a panic there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you don’t. Australian site ReachOut.com have some great tips aimed at keeping the cortisol (that’s a stress hormone) under control. Chief amongst them are getting enough sleep and eating well. Suffice to say that they also recommend going easy on the ‘substances’, so easy on the tinnies and keep the amber nectar for the evening after your last exam.

Share the pain

Your parents will have sat an exam at some point in their lives. They’ll remember the fear. So if your parents are around in the build up to your exams (for example if you’re still living at home) share your experience with them and be honest about how you’re feeling. Get them to help you manage your study sessions. Another Australian site – Parentline – has some great advice that you could share in their direction.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that some of the World’s most successful people didn’t do too well in exams (Churchill, Branson spring to mind). So those tests your worried about are not the be all and end all of your future. Put the effort in though, and you can do well. Best of luck from all of us at ABC Selfstore.

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