Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
It’s that dreaded time of year once again where Jeremy Clarkson starts to tweet about owning expensive cars despite getting Cs and Us at A level. Ah yes, it’s exam season.
I think it’s safe to say that no one really enjoys exams, however, they are a necessary evil and are undoubtedly very important. Although they are unpleasant, there are several things that you can do to make exam season slightly more bearable and easier to cope with.
The most important and most helpful thing you can do to prepare yourself for exams is to start early and give yourself plenty of time to prepare. This does not mean you need to start revising for your summer early in January, but rather use reading weeks and holidays productively to go over your notes and summarise or organise them so when you come to revise for the summer exams, you’ll have less to do and the things you have to do will be easier and more manageable. Furthermore, starting early and giving yourself plenty of time to prepare means that you will be less stressed since you don’t have to cram two terms worth of revision into two weeks. Starting early means you can afford to give yourself a few days off to give yourself a small break when you go out with your friends or do other activities you enjoy. Plus, having lots of time to prepare is always good in case of unforeseen circumstances like illness- if you have plenty of time to revise before your exams, you don’t need to worry if you fall ill in the leadup to exams and need to take a few days off from revising in order to recover.
Another thing that will help you, in the long run, is to keep on top of your work throughout the year. Doing all your required reading, making useful notes during lectures and catching up with any work you missed as soon as possible means you will have a much easier time when it comes to revision as you can focus just on revising content you’ve already learned, as opposed to having to learn everything in a short space of time. Attending all your lectures and seminars is also helpful as you never know when lecturers will give you helpful hints and tips about any upcoming exams. Make use of your lecturer’s office hours and get any questions about anything you don’t understand answered as soon as possible so you can get on with your revision.
While revision is important, it is also important to give yourself some time off to relax too. Focusing solely on revision without doing anything fun will quickly lead to boredom or procrastination. Take time out of your week to step away from revision and do things you enjoy, whether that’s hanging out with friends, doing sports or watching your favourite TV show.
Staying motivated all the time is hard but you can use things you enjoy as motivating rewards. For example, you could say to yourself “If I revise this topic today, I can go out tonight” or “For every chapter of reading I do I can have a piece of chocolate”. Revision is tough (and sometimes boring) and requires a great deal of self-discipline, however breaking things down into smaller sections and rewarding yourself for your work can be very encouraging. Having something special to look forward to once exams are over can also be very motivating. For some people, creating a revision timetable so they know how much they have to do can be very helpful. Although this may not be helpful for everyone, it’s all about finding the things that work best for you.
Leading up to the exams, you should also find out when your exams are and what rooms they are in, then make sure you actually know where those rooms are and know how long it takes you to get there. This way, you won’t be stressed on the morning of your exam trying to find where “Desso hall” or “Room OC0.03” is ten minutes before your exam is due to start. Also make a note of what things you need to take with you for the exam and what things you’re not allowed to take. Getting a good amount of sleep in the week leading up to your exams is also extremely helpful as you will almost certainly perform better after getting enough sleep.
In summary, just remember that ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’ which is why revision is important. Exams can be terrible and exhausting but once they’re over, you have the whole summer to do whatever you want.