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Staying motivated this exam season
Whether you’re in Year 13, revising for your A-Levels (Good luck!), or a uni student then exams are coming- but you can do it and stay motivated! At my time at University I’ve had exam seasons which last 8 weeks and it really is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s no good forcing yourself to work everyday if by four weeks in you can’t bear to look at your notes anymore! Here are my top tips for staying motivated whatever exams you need to ace!
Don’t let revision consume you
When you’re revising, it may be hard to turn off. Sometimes I have felt like pushing myself to do one more round of flash cards or one more question but it’s okay to stop – in fact, I’d recommend it.
I like having a work space and a home space, this means that I can work in the Mathematical Sciences Building or Library in the day and then head home to a work-free space. I use ambient lighting in my room in the evening to set the space ready for relaxing so I don’t even think of revising anymore.
In order to control the amount of time I revise, I aim to work some form of working day. During the Easter holidays, that is 10am-5pm every day. I’ve found that this amount of time sets me up well for exams and gives me ample time to get all of my hours of revision in before the exam. I find that studying to a working day makes me feel like I’ve done a good job by the end of the day. It gives me a time to turn off, and I can quantify my work for the day. It also gives me a reason to set my alarm in the morning. Even though it’s only me who can motivate myself out of bed, somehow telling myself I have a reason to get up – a deadline to reach the library makes waking up a lot easier.
Have other reasons to keep going
Sometimes you may think that aiming for the best grade or classification is the best reason to keep revising this exam season. Aiming for a grade is a great idea but don’t let it be the only reason you study. Studying because of a chip on your shoulder or because you really need a certain mark can add stress to your day – something you shouldn’t need on top of your revision! Find other things to keep you motivated, think about a film you want to watch when you get home, a takeaway after a hard week or the coffee trip you’re having with friends tomorrow. It can be hard, but try and find positive things you can do in exam season to sweeten it. This will hopefully help you persevere, a positive reason to keep going compared to piling on the pressure.
Allocate time off
Sometimes when you have exams back-to-back this might be impossible but try and allocate time to relax during exam season. No one is expected to work every day during exams, it’s unsustainable. If you have a week break between exams then take a day off to refresh. The important thing to do in this situation is to schedule in the time in advance. I schedule days off when I know I have time, it means that I can take the day off guilty free and I can motivate myself on the busy days that a day off is coming! If you can’t take the full day off then maybe have a lie-in, or make a special occasion of an off to detox from the work.
Also try different ways to relax, I really enjoyed running during my first year exams and the last few years I’ve tried meditation, long walks to the outer parts of campus and made real effort to attend society events with run in Term 3.
Take action when you’ve taken it too far
Over the last few years I have had times when I’ve pushed my revision too far and I’ve burn out. The important thing to do if you feel like this is to stop, reassess, take action. Don’t feel like you have to work if you’re not in the mindset for it. Think abut constructive ways to feel better again, if it means losing revision hours then it is worth it in the grand scheme of things.
Remember that revision is a marathon, not a sprint. You have time to take a break and get motivated again. Don’t let a bump in the road jeopardise how you feel. In the end, the most important thing to persist with during exam season is your wellbeing!