When The Exam Lowdown

Exams are tougher than resisting a fifth helping of Christmas lunch, even for the smartest of cookies.

They’re pesky and difficult and stressful, and simply being intelligent doesn’t cut it. You need to be mentally healthy and prioritise self-care to get through (kinda) unscathed.

But I’ve learnt some tips and tricks along the way to make exam time that little bit easier, from high school finals to that darned closed book law exam that I’m not quite over (RIP me).

Here’s some advice that will guarantee you top marks and a top time.*

(*Guarantee not guaranteed. Author accepts no liability.)

Start Early. Pls.

You’ve heard this time and time again. Trust me, it works. Starting early gives your brain time to properly process and absorb information and has a huge impact on your wellbeing and mental health. Anything to minimise extra stress at an already anxious time is a winner. So get goin’ – future you will be grateful.

Study Groups Are Your Friend

Do me a favour? Please don’t get sucked into the toxic idea that everyone is an enemy who you have to beat at all costs. While a little bit of competition is healthy, unnecessarily rivalry and tension doesn’t help anyone. Sure, make your own notes, but meet up with friends to study together or just to unwind.

Treat Yo’ Self

My favourite tip of all. Practice and prioritise self-care – your results will be better for it. Whether it’s going for a run or having a long bath, taking some time away from the books to look after yourself is beyond important. Meditation and mindfulness can also be really helpful and there are some great free apps out there with programs. I find listening before bed super relaxing.

Memory Games

Finding a helpful learning technique is easier said than done. In my experience, flashcards work, if you prepare them in advance and use them regularly. I also use rhyme or narrative to remember lists. Hear me out. In high school, I memorised every syllabus for every topic in Business and Legal studies by making up a funny, memorable sentence from the first letter of each line. It sounds lame, yet almost four years later, I still remember some. Talking to yourself may seem silly, however you’ll quickly figure out what you actually know, and what you’re pretending to know. If you can’t effectively explain a concept aloud, you won’t be able to answer a question on it. #realtalk

Time Management? LOL

Study plans are great if you stick to them and find a time when you’re most focussed and use it productively. And remember: Study smarter, not harder. Take regular breaks – ideally 10 minutes for every hour. I use the 25-5 method, setting my phone’s stopwatch and studying hard for 25 minutes, then taking five minutes to stretch, grab a glass of water and rest my eyes.

Perspective: It’s Important

Stop. Breathe. Life will go on, regardless of your exam results. A percentage cannot tell you how funny, caring or vibrant you are.