Handling Exam Stress and Burn Out
By now many of you have sat, are sitting or are waiting to sit your end of year exams. Personally, for me, this is always a time that comes with a lot of anxiety and a lot of late nights but I this year has been different. I wanted to share with you how I have been dealing with exam stress and keeping myself from burning out and maybe it might help some of you.
I am a Virgo, and a middle child, and a perfectionist, and have crazy anxiety so things just have to be done in a particular way at a particular time or I’m just not interested. So, I took some time at the start of the exam period to figure out which days I’m free, days I might to go home, days I might just not want to do anything (Sundays) and planned them all into my revision timetable. My usual mistake is to pack my days with crazy unrealistic revision targets then get super demotivated and burnt out when I miss something or don’t get everything done. This year, I give myself 6 hours (like a school day) to do work. Whether that is reading, past papers, re-watching lectures, it doesn’t matter – and once I hit 6 hours or 9pm (when the sun goes down) I stop. I’ve found having a cut off time means I’m motivated to finish everything I wanted done that day before that time because if not I have to sacrifice a free day. But also see how by planning in free days I have a lot of room to make up for less productive days rather than frantically staying up all night.
This pretty much goes hand in hand with the whole planning point. By compartmentalising my time and my focus it means that I can really concentrate and get everything I need done complete. So, by compartmentalising what I mean is; when I’ working that’s all I think about and vice versa when I’m having fun that’s all I’m thinking about. Feeling guilty about not doing work is the most counterproductive thing in the world because now you’re not even having fun AND you’re not doing work. Keeping yourself happy or at least having intervals of just mindless fun can do wonders for your mental health and has kept me from burning out this year which I am so beyond happy about.
This is the absolute best hack I’ve discovered while revising this year. With everything being online and open book, it means there’s quite a bit of stress already taken off our shoulders regarding remembering stuff. What I did this year was open two blank documents for each module and wrote down all my topics for term one in one and term two in the other right at the top. I then compiled all my notes for term 1 together and term 2 together. Once you’ve done that, export both document into pdfs and then now you can read through the notes, highlight, add comments, hyperlink all over the notes while keeping your originals neat and less frantic. It also means that during the exam I can search up for the specific topic, see all my added notes and pick out all the key concepts and cases. This is all possible to do on word if you prefer but personally I find it easier to read and annotate pdfs & you can email it to all your devices and open it up anywhere. I love this trick and would definitely recommend.
Everyone manages exams and revision differently so what has worked for me might not work for you and that is okay. My ultimate top tip and has been since secondary school; stop comparing yourself to others. You know your capabilities, you know how much work you put in, you know your circumstances – you don’t know anyone else’s. Sit your exam and focus on your progress, your goals and your mental health. Prioritising yourself is definitely the key to avid exam stress.