It’s understandable if you feel a little daunted by the prospect of exams, particularly if you find formal assessment difficult. It may seem like a momentous moment in your life, especially with a potential university place or work opportunity resting on your results, and the pressure can build up. There are things you can do though to ensure you’re fully prepared and increase the chances of you doing well and reaching your goals, and also to safeguard your mental health during this important period. Here a Sixth Form in London outlines how you can get ready for your exams and look after yourself in the process.
Design a manageable revision schedule
Revision might seem like a drag, but designing and implementing a manageable revision schedule is the best way to ensure you recap everything you’ve learned over the last few years in time for your exams. Write down everything you need to cover and by when, and look at the time available to you, then break your time down into smaller blocks and allocate specific topics to each block. Make sure you take into account when each exam is and prioritise earlier ones over later ones. Try to avoid a jam-packed schedule if possible; design a revision routine that’s realistic and includes regular breaks for exercise, relaxation and socialising. These aspects are important for your mental health and you’ll burn out quickly if you’re constantly studying.
Reward yourself regularly
Promising yourself a nice reward upon completing a particular topic will provide a good incentive to motivate you throughout the revision period. Write a list of small rewards like seeing a movie or going out for a meal so you have things to look forward to once you’ve met your goals. This will also ensure good mental health as you won’t be spending every second studying.
Prioritise your physical health
Your physical health will affect your mental and emotional health, so make sure you’re eating a healthy diet of nutritious foods and not consuming too much junk food or high fat/sugar foods – these can lead to energy slumps which can affect your motivation levels and ability to concentrate on revision. Make time for regular exercise as well; this is particularly beneficial if done outside as the fresh air will energise you while the physical activity will give you a welcome boost of endorphins. It’s also a good idea to ensure you’re getting enough sleep; lack of sleep can have a significant impact on your ability to focus for an extended period of time.
Ask for help
If there’s a particular topic you’re struggling with, don’t stay silent – ask for help, whether it be from a tutor, a friend or a family member. Having someone else’s perspective on the subject might help you understand it better. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it’s important to talk to someone you trust who will listen in a non-judgmental way. Even just offloading to friends will make you feel better. Make use of all the resources available to you to dive deeper into topics you’re finding difficult; there should be plenty of online resources on the subject, and of course you could ask for some help from a tutor. Try not to panic and take some time to think about how you can overcome any difficulties, asking for the support of others if you need it.
It might also help to keep a sense of perspective and remind yourself that exams are not the be all and end all; of course you want to do well and you might feel pressure to perform from others, but know that there are always other options and avenues open to you if things don’t go as well as you hope.