Wax On, Wax Off

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By Rebecca Sundhu
on 15 January, 2017

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Top Tips for How to Deal with Exam Stress

It is natural to have some worry about exams. The important concept is to plan early for your exam. The ‘Karate Kid’ movie had the right idea about practising!

Here are some tips for HOW to plan your revision

Tip 1: Revision Table

Use a revision table to plan your study in blocks. You can view a useful example here

Now structure your time into blocks (that is after getting ready and having breakfast in the morning). The average length of a block will vary from person to person but short blocks with short breaks are the key.

When not in school: Try to have two or three revision blocks of time in the morning and two or three in the afternoon. If you are in school: schedule revision blocks in the evening only. The key is not the number of revision blocks but the head space to learn. So it really is quality not quantity.

Where to study? A quiet space or some background sound - it really is personal preference! Some people find soundtracks for movies and videogames useful for revising to, as they are composed so as not to be intrusive and remain in the background.

Tip 2: Time for a treat… So, what do you like to do for fun?

Girl reading a book

Your routine will change when you revise for exams so there will be less time for some things, such as watching your favourite show.

Give yourself a small reward at the end of your study on each day. Perhaps a favourite programme you did not have time for earlier? Call a friend. Exercise is great, even if it is going for a walk with someone from home.

Plan a bigger reward for the end of your study. A trip, day out or catch up on missed shows.

Tip 3: What's your future goal?

Football net

Think of the goal that you are studying toward. Are you interested in particular careers, college courses or apprenticeships? Look online to find out the requirements to get onto the course.

Not sure what you want to do? That’s ok. Look into a few ideas that interest you, speak to adults at home and in school. Like me they were once young too!

Tip 4: Study buddy  

People taking notes in a cafe

I asked my cousins - one is in high school and the other is in sixth form. They both said that it helps to have a study buddy. Why? So you can hear your learning to see if you understand. BUT it does need to be with someone who is motivated to study as well, otherwise it is better to study on your own and ask someone at home to test you or even test yourself… (but don’t cheat). 

Practise by:

  • Looking at past papers
  • Make revision cards, highlight key words or use a mind map. It really is individual preference here
  • Read around a subject to get an understanding and to spark your interest
  • Look up words you are not sure about.

Tip 5: REST!

Sleep – it is important to have your rest. Your brain uses a lot of energy during study. You therefore need to eat regularly as well. Make sure you do something that you find relaxing before bed to help you rest for the next day.

Now here's the psychology...

When we learn, information is put in our short-term memory. When we learn the same thing a few times, information is put in our long term memory. Information in our long term memory is a skill for life. Why?

Long-term memory is permanent, like riding a bike. When we have not ridden for a while, we may only need a short practice to remind us how to do it. In the same way, practice in the lead up to your exam means that your brain will store what is being repeated. So anything you practice now becomes a skill for life!

Exams are tricky, but try to remember that: 

Albert Einstein

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

If you would like to read more about how to relieve stress then, check out the Young Minds website.

A small dose of stress in life is normal. The BBC has a great article on How to manage stress like a pro.

The best of wishes for your exams!

Comments (3)

  • Ingrida Stankeviciene avatar

    Ingrida Stankeviciene

    Great! Simple but very effective.

  • Mark Anthony  avatar

    Mark Anthony

    Really useful and informative, thank you Dr SUNDHU

  • Luke Emanuel  avatar

    Luke Emanuel

    Very useful, cheers.

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