Oh exams. You again. Whenever we hear your name what tends to follow are feelings of stress and boredom, apprehension souring into despair, and an overwhelming sense of under-motivation. What tends to happen is daydreaming about the wonderful summer that is so close we can very nearly touch it — if it weren’t for these insurmountable exams to get through first.
Or so it seemed. Here is this semester’s guide to handling exams and some tips about where to revise and how to organise your time.
First thing’s first: where to work. There’s your room, of course, but for some this can be a bit uninspiring. However, if it’s for you, make sure your room is clean and organised before you begin (as rooms can reflect your state of mind!)
If you work best away from home, there are many places around the university to go. The Main Library is an obvious choice, but an alternative is the extra classrooms that are open for revision on the lower ground floor of 50 George Square; both options have cafes nearby. Alternatively, the Chaplaincy next to Potterrow is a little more lively than the Library, with tables and chairs on the ground floor and a few study spaces upstairs, which might be more your cup of tea. Each school also has its own library, so whether you belong to Law or Linguistics, you have the option of sitting and studying with fellow comrades.
However, you might prefer studying away from home, but not at university, in which case there are many colourful cafes around Edinburgh, or, if we wish very hard and make the weather nice, you have the Meadows on which to sunbathe and study at the same time.
Now you have found your golden study spot, you need to be organised with your time so it doesn’t slide away on your news feed. This can be tricky, but it’s always made worse when you have exams for different courses close to each other.
So, make a plan and stick to it. Divide your days up into study sessions to get a bit of each subject done each day, or focus on a particular subject per day, knowing you’ll do another one tomorrow. Make time for breaks, and for relaxing before bed to slow down your brain because a lack of, or bad-quality sleep — or having a pint after revising for that matter — can unravel what you learned in the day because you won’t consolidate memories in the night. Ignoring your phone/social media during the revision session, or writing down worries before you begin so as to physically (and figuratively) put them aside for a while will help you to concentrate on your work.
As you’ll be aware, it’s very important during stressful times to still see friends, do fun things and to exercise. These interactions release happy hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin. By having a plan, you can leave revision without feeling guilty as you know you have scheduled these hours to look after your physical, mental and/or emotional wellbeing. There is also a new app called Emoodji designed to help students become aware of how they’re feeling, and to give them tips on how to better look after themselves. It’s super easy: you take a selfie and stick onto it the emoji face that fits best with how you feel, then you can send it to others or keep it to yourself!
And finally, we all have days where things just don’t go to plan. Maybe something unexpected came up, or you pressed snooze one too many times on the alarm. But you needn’t worry about this. The best thing to do is to accept it happened, and try to do better tomorrow. And if you still want that satisfying kick of dopamine, find a half hour to do a bit of studying… you’ll feel better for it. Good luck, and happy studying!
[Image: Miradeshazer @ Pixabay]