Before, during, and after exams: staying calm for success!

Read about ways you can take a calm and balanced approach to the upcoming examinations, with tips from subject librarian Romney Adams.


Before the exam

There are so many different exam revision strategies - forming a study group, Pomodoro for solo study, mnemonics for tricky-to-remember information, and flash cards are just a few! All these different approaches can be confusing, but most of you will already know what works for you - think of how you studied and revised material during your years at high school. If you’re unsure, have a look at some of our past blog posts to find out about some different methods:



Everyone will have a different approach, and while there’s no harm in trying a new technique, it’s also okay to stick with a sensible method that you know works for you. Make sure you’re realistic about the amount of study you can achieve in the time you have available between now and SWOTVAC - make sure you factor in enough time for meaningful study breaks, and also for Murphy’s Law situations - unexpected internet outages, sickness, extra shifts, or computer issues.


The important thing is that you actually do revise - because it can be so tempting to just not! A little bit of procrastination is completely normal (and delicious, if you’re like me and procrasti-bake), but it’s important to face the beast and make sure you study...even if it can be a pretty unpleasant experience; what’s even more unpleasant is cramming the night before (or even worse, the morning of) your exam, and facing your exam feeling tired, unprepared, and out-of-sorts.

During the exam

Your approach to exam day itself starts the night before - it’s no fun to miss out on drinks with friends, or seeing a late-night film with your partner, but getting a good night’s sleep beforehand is such a boost to your exam-day success. And you can always schedule in some celebratory fun-time after your exams are done.

Sitting in the examination room can be stress-inducing - you’re unsure of what’s in the exam, whether you’ve revised all the right topics, and the air-conditioner is making a subtle-yet-annoying whining noise. Try a few strategies to focus your thoughts, and calm your mind.

Have a look at our suggestions and strategies for exam day. Make sure you use the reading time well, to plan out your approach; and, as much as you’d like to get out of there - stay until the end of the allotted time. This will give you as much time as possible to double-check your responses - I’ve saved countless marks this way, where in a rush I’ve written the wrong formula, ticked the wrong box, or used incorrect terminology.

After the exam

Whether you’ve got another exam coming up, or you’ve reached the end of your exam timetable, make sure you take the time to relax. There’s no point in swinging straight from finishing one exam to preparing for your next one, without a break. Even if your next exam is the following day (or, if you’re very unlucky, later that same day!), make sure you take the time to go for a walk and clear your head, if nothing else.

And when you do complete your final exam, make sure you do something nice for yourself - you’ve earned it!
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