A collection of the best student advice for staying focused and motivated when preparing for and sitting exams:
Be prepared, start early
The best thing you can do is give yourself enough time to prepare. Whether it’s a deadline or an exam, they all require some preparation and leaving it until last minute is only going to add to the pressure.
Find the right method
Make sure you find the revision method that suits you best. We all have different styles, some people are visual learners, and so might prefer colourful mind-maps, while others prefer to use listening devices, such as recording your notes and listening to them back. If you find the right way to learn, your revision will become that much easier. If you like to highlight your notes, stick to short sections, like definitions or keywords.
Use past papers
By studying past papers, you can rehearse and plan your answers before the exam itself. When you sit down on the day, you can do so knowing that nothing on the other side of that sheet will surprise you.
Put your phone away
Seriously, put it away. Hide it behind your laptop or under your notes. Stick it in the fridge. Glue it to the ceiling. It’s probably the number one reason you’ll end up procrastinating.
Break revision up into bite-sized chunks
24/7 revision not only stresses you out more but doesn’t serve to help you either. Unfortunately, revision has diminishing returns, the more you do the less you take in. If you break it up you can not only find time to relax but make the work you do more efficient.
Also, don’t just summarise what you’ve read, instead is test yourself and trying to answer questions on the information that your brain just took in.
If you are entitled to extra time in an exam, take it. It can be an absolute lifesaver, especially when you’re thinking about the question and it sparks another thought completely irrelevant to the exam, and 20 minutes later you’re wondering where you would next go on holiday.
If you aren’t allowed extra time, then apply this to your studies. Do not cram at the last minute, it never works, and you will not retain any information in the long run. Give yourself time to learn, it does not happen overnight.
Before the exam
Take things slow and only take a cursory glance at your notes. Before the exam make sure that you’ve eaten, drunk plenty of water and been to the bathroom.
During the exam
If you stress most at the start of the exam, it might be worth using that time to plan your answer or write down key notes from your revision. Jumping straight in might not help, but writing a plan will give you a chance to get in the zone. Break it down into sections will really help to give you a structure of what you want to say!
If you lose track of what you’re doing, keep referring back to the question. Take deep breaths and read the instructions carefully. It’s always good advice to read every question twice but this is especially important if you’re stressed.
If things get too much ask an invigilator if you can go to the toilet. Wash your face, take a second to compose yourself and then head back in.
Good luck for the exam season, don’t panic, and just do your best!