So, at UTA it’s approaching the end of so called ‘dead week’. That’s what students here call the week before final exams when you feel, well, dead. Many professors stop teaching new material and opt for review classes instead, and others simply stop teaching their course all together. With all that being said it is a sad fact that the year abroad contains studying and exams, as much as it does fun and travelling. It’s also approaching exam season in the University of Leicester, and exams can be daunting especially for first years, so I decided to make my first blog post of May about tips for coping with exams.
- Take regular breaks.
What’s that? You get to take time off? Sure! I mean a five minute to twenty minute ratio, not a five hour Netflix break after ten minutes studying. The 20-5 ratio, or the Pomodoro technique, has been shown by numerous studies to increase concentration and productivity. Taking a five minute break to stretch your legs or get a glass of water after twenty minutes of studying can really help refocus you.
- Keep hydrated
One of the most important things you can do to increase focus during revision is to stay hydrated and try and eat healthy, nutritious meals. Although it can be tempting to rely on takeaways when you’re pressed for time, drinking plenty of water and eating nutritionally dense foods (omega-3 rich foods like fish and so called ‘good fat’ containing foods like avocado and nuts/nut butters) will help you in the long term.
- Get some sleep
Though it may be tempting to pull an all-nighter cramming for that exam, you’re going to regret it come 1pm the next day when you fall asleep at your desk mid-exam (or, you know, write an awful essay because you’re so tired you can’t focus). A regular sleep routine is a difficult thing to maintain, but forcing yourself to stick to a schedule will really help come exam time.
- Be realistic
For no exam do you ever have to revise the entire course. At the University of Leicester we don’t have the luxury of reviews for exam that tell you questions that you should focus on, but you can still break down the content of your module and eliminate some things you don’t have to study. For example, most of my modules at Leicester are divided into eight sub-sections, with a question on the exam coming from each topic. Knowing I have to answer two questions on the exam, I can select four of the eight topics to study in depth rather than try and revise the whole module.
- Know your revision style
Your final set of exams of final year probably isn’t a good time to be experimenting with revision techniques. Even as a fresher, you have taken exams before and likely know what worked and didn’t work in your revision for them. Once you find a technique that works, stick to it. For example, I know cramming does not work for me and I revise better alone, it would therefore be pointless for me to go to a study group with course-mates the night before my exam.
Good luck in your exams everyone, you got this!