Exam revision: 7 coping strategies

Exam revision is the worst time of university life in my opinion. But you can’t avoid it, so it’s important to be prepared when the stress hits. For me, the first exam period was the worst, but my coping strategies improved since then and the past December exams went by relatively smoothly.

Here are some things that helped me be more mentally stable and productive.

1. Grasp the concepts

Understand every concept before the start of revision: If you go to lectures and participate in tutorials, you get a grasp of the material prior to revision time, which gives you an estimate of how much you need to learn and how much time you need to set aside for a certain subject. If you make sure you write up the notes along the way and understand every concept you write down, your revision will be faster and more efficient.

2. Start early

Make a realistic plan and follow it through. Starting early prevents last-minute cramming and very non-efficient stressing out. Set a goal of revising for example 5 lectures per day, and you will feel accomplished when you are done and you’ll also have time to do some physical or social activity without feeling guilty.

3. Sleep well

Being fully rested is very important if you want to keep the information you learn in your brain. Substituting sleep with late-night studying will do more harm than good.

4. Exercise

Physical activity really helps get some oxygen flowing to the brain and you’ll also sleep better!

5. Take study breaks

I find it very valuable to divert my mind from studying for at least an hour per revision day. For example, go out for a walk or meet a friend, and then return to the books with a fresh mind.

6. Be realistic

Set realistic goals and follow them. Be kind to yourself and don’t try to remember every single detail. Focus on the learning objectives and do some past papers to get the feeling of the type of questions that usually come up.

7. Treat yourself

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. A long shower or a good meal really reduces stress and helps you stay mentally healthy!