5 Exam Survival Tips

May is here, which can mean only one thing for anyone in eduction… exam season! Although summer is just around the corner, the run up is one of the most stressful times of the academic year. With a year’s work culminating into a few exams, it can feel like everything bar revision and deadlines goes out the window. It can be really overwhelming. As such, I’m sharing some of my top tips to help you stay in control throughout the exam season, whilst still getting a little exercise and socialising in!

Treat revision for exams like a day at work

You know yourself better than anyone. Be disciplined and start your revision punctually each day, and have a game plan on what you want to work on. Being in charge of your own time can make getting out of bed tricky. Try and treat it like a job and start at the same time each day. Whilst I never got on with revision timetables -too rigid, too much switching between subjects -I like to have an idea in my head of what I want to work on over the week ahead, usually broken into AM and PM slots. Factor in workouts, errands, cooking times and of course socialising into your day to stagger breaks over several hours. Breaks from work are important, so give yourself permission to have fun!

But allow yourself some flexibility

You may have scheduled a lunchtime gym session in, but if you’re still on a roll at 11:45, don’t break a productive revision stint. By the same token, if things start to stagnate before the end of a work slot, take a break for a few minutes, or even call it quits for an hour or two before starting renewed. We can’t always predict how our brains or work ethics will pan out each day, and that’s completely okay. 

Have some daily quiet time

Feeling wired all the time? Prioritise making a few minutes upon waking or before bed to focus on breathing and relaxing. This can be with a light yoga flow, pranayama breathing, meditation, but equally curling up with a book will all work wonders. Give yourself some screen-free ways to escape the outside world.

Time for exercise

You’ve probably heard that exercise can boost productivity half a dozen times by now. Even if you’re busy, try not to skip exercise completely. It gives your brain a break, moves your body and if nothing else, provides a change of scenery! What your exercise looks like depends on you -a longer session to bookend or break up the day is one option, but little ten minutes bursts throughout the day can also be really helpful. Whatever you do, pick a form of exercise that you enjoy, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to hit PBs. HIIT is a time saving option, but treat it with caution: if you are already stressed, going for a type of exercise that raises your cortisol even further might not be the best option. Finally, throw in some basic mobility work to counteract the stiff hips and tight shoulders that come from a day spent at a desk.

Make sleep a priority

Whilst now is not the time to lie in until midday or take lots of naps, pulling all nighters on a regular basis is not the way forward either.  Although you may find yourself working later, overwork and lack of sleep can seriously undermine your health and decrease your exam success because you’re simply too tired to absorb any more information. It doesn’t work for everyone as we all have different sleep patterns, but I’d much prefer to go to sleep an hour or two early, and get up that bit sooner and hit the ground running. If you’re more productive at night then absolutely go with that. Just make sure you get your eight hours in afterwards. If you’re struggling to sleep, see if you can check in with your sleep hygiene -are you going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day and reducing your screen time? 
 
Exams are a bit of a practice for dealing with deadlines and taking on new information, so get to grips with these tips and utilise them whenever things get busy or stress mounts up.
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