Surviving Exam Time

It’s that time of semester again. Late nights, sugar hits and frantically cramming until you can’t cram no more. Yes, I’m talking about exam time. This time can be the most stressful time of semester, so here’s a few tips to help you make it through.

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Plan your study map- Everyone has their own personal learning approach and we all know what works best for us. If you’re an early riser and study best in the mornings, set your alarm and hit the books with the sun. If you concentrate better in the later hours of the day, allow plenty of time to study in the afternoon and evening. Plan a schedule and make it realistic given the time-frame you’re working in. If you’re a mind mapper, get a white board or go a bit crazy with sticky notes. If you work best with colour, get some highlighters and go wild with your books. Whatever tactic you choose, make sure it’s all about you.

The Seinfeld X Technique- Jerry Seinfeld use to force himself to write jokes every day. After a long day of joke writing, he’d put a massive red cross on the date of his calendar as a sign of completion. After a week, his calendar would be lined with perfectly marked boxes with a red cross in each. It gave him a sense of accomplishment when not one single box was left untouched.  Try this on your own calendar with your study. Set yourself goals for each day and mark them off as you go. Don’t break that chain!

Sleep it off- Although it’s tempting to do an all-nighter (I know we’ve all been there), getting enough sleep is key to achieving a good headspace for exam day. Our bodies naturally tell us when they’re tired and we all know how important it is to get enough shut eye to function properly. Chasing those 8 hours of sleep a night improves our cognitive ability and increases our mental capacity to take in more information effectively.

Perfume or aftershave- Strange I know, but it’s been proven that out of all the five senses, smell is the strongest sense to bring back memories. In fact, studies have shown that people who use the same perfume or aftershave during an exam, as they did while studying, can increase their performance by 20%. That sweet scent brings back all the information they learnt whilst studying.

Exercise- I know we hear it all the time but exercise really does wonders for your body, both physically and mentally. Going for a quick 20-minute walk, a gym class or a game of soccer can reset your mind to give you the best chance of storing all that hard-earnt knowledge. When we exercise, a process takes place in our brains called Neurogenesis. This basically mean that as we exercise, our body produces new brain cells. Now I’m not saying you have to go and train like Tris Prior in Divergent when she joins Dauntless but you will notice a difference once you start putting exercise into your routine.

Everybody’s talking- We’re all different. Some of us enjoy chilling on our own but a lot of us are talkers. If this is the case, having a good old DNM (Deep N Meaningful conversation) with a friend can do wonders for the soul. Exam periods are often the times when our minds are filled with bedlam and sometimes we need to talk about it.  Find your neighbour and chat about it or come down to the Exam Suppers here at RMC in the common room on Monday evenings starting at 9pm.

Switch it to flight mode- Phones…they’ve basically become an extension of our arm. They’re with us constantly, 24/7. Even now, my phone is going off beside me with Facebook notifications and as curious as I am, it’s also very distracting. A recent study has revealed that our daily attention has become so fragmented due to social media, that we are running the risk of permanently reducing our capacity for concentration. Going from Facebook, to your assignment, to Instagram and then back to Facebook, is actually changing the way our brains function. If you don’t want to lock your phone away completely, try flicking it to flight mode to stop the messages and notifications coming through. Focus on your studies without being interrupted.

Past exam papers- RMC is a place filled with knowledge and fortunately, there’s normally someone who has walked these halls before you who has studied the exact same thing. Go and rummage around the members lounge and you’ll find past exam papers in your unit that will give you a hint of what to expect in your exam. Let me assure you, they are a lifesaver!

Reward yourself- Whatever you love or whatever you enjoy doing, go and find it and reward yourself after exam period. We all know Max Brenner is across the road or treat yourself to a night out. It can be a massive couple of weeks and sometimes we just need to see a light waiting for us at the end of the tunnel.

You are the best

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