So it’s creeping up to May, meaning nearly all of us under 21 are preparing for exams or desperately writing essays. I thought today I’d share my tactics on how to ace this stressful period of student life. Although, this might only really apply to fellow English literature students, I hope it provide some sort of helpful advice for everyone.
My mum used to advise me to create a timetable for the months of May to June when I was at high school and college. Studying multiple subjects and having to revise a whole year’s worth of information is hideously challenging, and now that I’m studying one single subject at degree level, I have no idea how I managed to succeed in revising so many subjects in such a short space of time. The best way to combat this: plan out every day’s work until the end of your exam period. It’ll give you a rough idea of what you ought to achieve by the end of the day, and it’ll teach you a great amount of self-discipline. I get incredibly easily distracted, so having a timetable helps me keep on track with what needs to be done. It also forces me to recognise that if I don’t do what I’ve set out to do that day, I’ll have a lot more to do the following day. The idea is to do as much work as your brain will allow, then give it a break.
- GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
I’ve done a couple of all-nighters before, and my best friend has done so too; it’s not a wise idea. For one, it’s not healthy to stay up all night studying as your brain is getting worn out and thus, will not be as efficient as in the morning after a good 7 hours (minimum!) sleep. Getting enough rest not only keeps your brain healthy and happy, but you’ll find you’re more determined to work the next day. Next, give yourself little breaks during the day. Now, I don’t mean a 40 minute Netflix session after an hour’s work. 20 minutes or so, to give your brain a break and stretch your legs. You’ll find your brain is refreshed and you can easily pick up where you left off. Finally, have a cut-off point. If I work longer than 6 hours (with breaks), my brain slowly turns to mush and I find revising or working hopeless. My cut off point is usually 5pm, an hour before eating, which gives me plenty of time to unwind and relax.
Eating healthy is always a bonus, working or not. It’ll keep your mind raring to go, and healty at the same time. Brain food, I like to call it. A perfect reason to take a 20 minute break. Although, eating for 20 minutes straight isn’t what I’m suggesting.
- ORGANISING; PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH
If you are studying a subject where coursework carries a high percentage of your final grade, it might be wise to organise your day paragraph by paragraph. Quite like setting yourself mini deadlines, but deadlines that you can actually achieve.
A lifesaving technique, I’ve found. Planning out an essay with succinct detail, right down to immaculate bullet points has helped me more than I ever imagined. It’s also helped me manage two make-or-break essays spread out over the space of 5 days. I usually plan my essays maximum a week before the due date, and my plans are usually mini, condensed essays. This makes it 100x easier to approach writing an essay; the most daunting aspect of the whole part.
Hopefully this tiny portion of advice might help during exam/coursework season. Good luck, fellow students!