UoNCC's January Exams Survival Guide
January is a tough month even without having to get through exams. Whether this is your first or your last year it can be really tough and stressful so here's some tips from those of us who have been through it a few times.
Make a Plan
Some say revision timetables are just another form of procrastination. But it can be super helpful to break what you need to do into manageable chunks and make sure you're not forgetting or neglecting anything. So before you start, take 5 minutes and make a rough plan. Schedule in breaks for eating, getting outside etc and make sure you reward yourself at the end of the day by doing something nice for yourself.
Take breaks don't procrastinateRegular breaks can help you to focus and stay sane. Procrastinating leaves you feeling guilty and stressed. Know the difference. One tried and tested method is to study intensely for 20 minutes followed by a break of just a few minutes. For example, you could switch off your phone and write your notes, read your book or study your flashcards for 20 minutes then spend a few minutes mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and repeat throughout the day. The apps Forest or Hold can be useful if you are a procrastiscroller! Then after doing this for most of the morning take half an hour or so for lunch then set a time to finish and stop and take the evening off before getting to bed on time.
It may take time to find what works best for you and what worked for you at school won't necessarily work at uni. Talk to older students about what works for them. Ask your tutors and lecturers for advice. Some things that may work are:
-flashcards - either handwritten or using online platforms such as Anki-flowcharts-revising with others
-asking each other questions or teaching each other difficult concepts
-using a whiteboard to help you learn by repetition
-recording yourself reading your notes and listening to it back whilst at the gym
-highlighting key concepts in lecture notes or textbooks
A Change of Scene Can Do A World of Good
You don't have to be shut in your room 12 hours a day or suffering in the library. A change of scene can make a real difference. For example, you could study in your room in the morning, then head to campus after lunch to the library or head to town to study in a coffee shop then head to a friend's house in the evening to study or relax together
Not only is it good for the soul, it also helps with stress, memory and sleep. Even if it's just walking to the library, make sure you get active every day. When in doubt pedal it out! The club rides and WattBikes may not be officially running but post on the group and I'm sure people will be up for a procrasticycle!
You may find yourself feasting on "revision snacks" or living off red bull and takeaway but this will not help you. Eat 3 balanced meals a day, treat yourself with a few sugary snacks and maybe have a coffee or 2 to keep yourself focussed but don't overdo the sugar or caffeine - it will play havoc with your digestive system, your sleep and your focus.
"All nighters" do not work. Sleep is essential for aiding memory and concentration so make sure you're getting your nightly zzz's. Set a time in the evening to stop revising then relax for a bit and go to bed. Get into a routine and stick to it. If you're struggling to switch your mind off at night try the following:-no screens before bed
- try reading a book, listening to relaxing music or chatting to friends instead
-mindfulness - there are some handy apps (e.g. Headspace, Calm, Buddhify), try mindful breathing or tensing and relaxing all of your muscles one by one
-limit your afternoon caffeine and sugar intake
-eat way before bedtime
-don't drink alcohol or take sleeping pills to help you sleep - they may help you get to sleep but will decrease the quality of sleep
Exams are a stressful time for all of us. Some find it more difficult than others. Talk to your friends and family about how you're feeling. Look after yourself - your health comes before any grades. Nightline are open 24/7 over exam period (12th-26th January) if you need to talk and our wonderful committee and dedicated welfare sec are always happy to talk.
Check when and where your exams are
This may be simple and self-explanatory but mistakes have been made before! Make sure you know the times and locations of all your exams well in advance.#
When It's Finally Over
Some people want to go out and blow off some steam but if you're too exhausted or that's just not your scene then that's ok too. You may find yourself feeling deflated or struggling to get back into uni life with new modules etc and that's ok. Be kind to yourself and don't go straight from stressing over January exams to stressing over summer exams.