Wednesday, 11 May 2016

How To Survive Your Exams - Study Tips and De-Stressing!

It's everybody's favourite time of the year - exam season!
I'm from Scotland, and the exams have just started here, so I'm not sure about how far along exams in the rest of the UK are, sorry!
This is my first year of exams, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a post on my tips on how to study and how to de-stress. and I thought it might possibly help other people who are doing the same thing.

Past Papers - For me, I find the best way to study is by doing past papers. I know your teachers will most likely have been shoving these down your throat (not literally I hope, or you should be concerned), but seriously, past papers will be your best friend. I've been told by loads of my teachers that the demons that get together to create the exams use the same questions all the time, they just re-word it. So if you've been doing loads of past papers, then hopefully you'll notice similar questions in your exam and will know how to answer them. When you're doing your past papers, it's best to time yourself doing the paper or a particular question, so you'll know you can answer every question in the exam within the time limit. For example, if you can only spend 8-10 minutes on a question in History, practice doing that question and time yourself, and you'll start to become faster and better at answering them under pressure.

Index Cards and Flip Cards - I bought a set of index cards in a little box from Asda recently, and I love using them (mostly because they come with alphabetical organisers). You can do all sorts of things with these - you could write a word on one side, and then the definition of the word on the other side (does that make sense?), or you could write little facts to remember on them for a particular topic. For subjects like English, where you may have to remember quotes, writing all of your quotes down on flashcards and then getting someone to test you on them works really well for me!

Posters - Another way of studying is to get big sheets of poster paper, and do mind maps for a particular subject. I think this would be really helpful for the sciences, as you can do little branches for different parts of that subject, and make it all colour-coordinated and highlight it to make it stand out. And then when you're finished it, just blue-tack it to your wall and whenever you walk by it, you're kind of taking in what's written on the poster and you'll start to learn it. This isn't really one of my preferred methods of studying, but I've heard it works for a lot of people!

Recording Yourself - I know this one isn't very appealing to some people, but I've heard it works really well. If you aren't really into reading textbooks and notes for hours on end, you could record yourself saying things you have to learn for your exam. Again, this might work for things like English where you may have to learn essays: you would just record yourself on your phone reading out your essay and just put headphones in when you're in bed, and the recording will still be playing when you fall asleep, so you're learning it and memorising it without really noticing it. 

Other useful tips for studying:

  • Stay hydrated - This is really important, as if you're dehydrated, you'll just be tired and unmotivated to do anything, so make sure you keep a bottle of water or something beside you as you study.
  • Boost your sugar levels - This is similar to the last tip, if your sugar levels are down, you'll feel tired and not want to study, so go grab yourself a big bar of chocolate, a cookie or a bowl of ice cream, or something healthier, if you're a bit odd.
  • Take regular breaks - This is pretty self explanatory, there is no point in studying for three hours straight without a break, as eventually your brain will just switch off and you won't really be taking anything in. I'm quite famous for taking 'a quick break' while I'm studying, and then ending up getting distracted and ending up not studying at all. Whoops.
  • Create a study timetable - This was suggested to me so many times by different people, and I thought it was a great idea, as if you've got a timetable to stick to, you'll be much more inclined to follow it (well, I would anyway). To be honest, I never got around to making a study timetable because I didn't really understand how to make one. If you could find someone or a video on Youtube that tells you how to do it, then I would highly recommend making one as they seem like a great idea to motivate you to study. 
  • Don't worry too much - This is a bit of a contradiction from me, seeing as I've spent the past three months wondering what McDonalds I'll apply to if I fail all of my exams. I think the worst thing you could do in your exam is just turning into a deer caught in headlights, and just going absolutely blank and forgetting everything you've learned. To prevent myself from doing this, before I go into the exam hall I like to just stand and mumble little bits and bobs from that subject that I feel I might forget, and when I'm in the exam hall and actually sitting down, I continue to mumble to myself (I must look like a madman to the people sitting near me, but it works!), or I take big deep breathes to calm myself down. 

How to De-Stress

To be honest, I'm much better at de-stressing than I am at studying! I've made a list of my favourite ways to de-stress, and if you've got any others that help you, then please leave a comment below!

Having the ultimate bathing session - Now, I know you're reading this and rolling your eyes and saying "Robyn, the answer to all of our problems will not be fixed by taking a bath." But they will! Going to town with loads of bubbles, body butter, candles, face masks and a bath bombs will fix any problem. I got quite a bit of Lush stuff for my birthday, so right now I'm taking a lot of baths. Just lying in a hot bath with a magazine or a TV show is my favourite way to de-stress and forget that exams are a thing.

Skincare Pamper - If you don't have a bath, or don't have the time to lie in one, then a simple skincare pamper works well too! Face masks, pore strips, or just taking your time while doing your usual skincare routine work really well. This usually applies to me when I suddenly have a need to have a bath at 11pm and then have to resort to doing a big skincare routine. When I'm in the mood to, then I pretty much shove every skincare product I own onto my face. (I do feel rather fabulous and beauty guru-like afterwards.) Double cleansing, face mask, toner, moisturiser, eye cream and lip balm, the whole lot. I then make a pact to myself to do this every single night, but the next night I'm lucky if I only use a baby wipe to clean my face.

Colouring in - Adult colouring books are really popular at the moment, and I find that just sitting with a colouring book and pencils just really calms me down and helps me relax. The colouring book I like to use is The Enchanted Forest, and it's full of really beautiful intricate drawings that I love colouring in.

Paint your nails - I love painting my nails, and I find that I can only ever do it when I'm not doing anything, or I'll smudge it. This also helps me to de-stress (how many times have I said de-stress in the past 5 minutes?), especially when I do the whole shebang - filing and buffing, base coat, two or three even coats of polish, and a top coat. 

Binge on Netflix - Obviously, if you don't have Netflix, then you could just binge on your favourite movies or TV show. I'm still watching Once Upon A Time, but my other picks would be Pretty Little Liars, American Horror Story, White Chicks and The Hunger Games Trilogy. I'm also about to start Ru Paul's Drag Race, which I think has eight seasons on Netflix, so I won't be bored any time soon!

Shopping - I thought I'd save the best de-stressing method till last. What better way to calm yourself down than taking part in some retail therapy? That lipstick you've been staring at for months in Debenhams? Get it! That pretty top you saw last week in Topshop? Go get it! I think shopping is the best way to take your mind off of exams for a few hours, especially when you go a little crazy and buy loads of new things. Your bank account may be slightly stressed afterwards, but you certainly will not.

Those were my best tips for studying and de-stressing! I hope this was helpful in some way!
And for everyone sitting exams, I hope you're all coping okay and I'm sure you'll do amazingly!

Thank you for reading, and I'll see you soon!


  1. I wish I knew half of this when I was at University or even a third of what I've learned since :') I might have enjoyed myself more! xoxoxo

    Gillie Blogs

  2. Ah some brilliant tips here! I used to love using index cards when I was doing revision and I've tried recording myself in the past but sadly it didn't really work for me. I know some people swear by it though!

    1. Thank you! Index cards work the best for me too! And recording myself didn't really work for me, I always thought listening to myself recite George Orwell at night would give me nightmares!