Monday, 2 May 2016

How to survive exams

Hello friends! I hope you're all doing well! I know this pre-summer season can be stressful, with exams, and university choices all on top of the every day drama of life, so I reckon quite a few of you will benefit from this post!

I know what you're thinking; you came on here for an escape from exams, not to get a reminder... "Oh gosh, don't use the 'e' word" ect., ect. Trust me, I know. I'm on your level- I'm in my final year of high school, and am about to embark on my third official SQA exam diet. (Wish me luck)

Exams are like the wilderness- you are constantly confronted with new, unexpected problems. You wouldn't go exploring wild terrain without a survival kit, so don't tackle your exams without one. In this post, I'm going to take you through exactly what you need in your exam survival kit.

Item 1- The perfect stationary
Ever scrolled down weheartit or tumblr, and seen a beautiful white desk with pretty study notes and the cutest stationary EVER?! Well, that could be your desk. I find it really motivates me when I have pretty notepads and colourful pens to use for studying.

 Some people say that the stationary you use when studying doesn't make a difference, but I completely disagree! Using coloured pens makes your notes stand out more, and makes the whole process of studying much more enjoyable, so you're more likely to remember things. The same goes for highlighters, and coloured flashcards. I would definitely recommend a good investment in some top notch stationary- it is completely worth it! 

Item 2- The perfect study method
Having an effective study method is every bit as important as having beautiful stationary. Because, what's the point of investing in all this cute stuff if you don't actually use it?! Personally, I use a variety of methods, but some of my friend have one paticular method that works for them. You'll only ever find out what method works best for you through practice and testing each one out, and everyone is different so what works for your friend won't necessarily work for you.

Here are a few of my favourite methods;

-Make summary notes in powerpoint slides
-Do practice questions

-Make a pretty, colourful mindmap

-Make cute and colourful summary notes

-Record yourself speaking (This is mainly for learning languages, but I guess it could still work for other subjects)

-Make flash cards

Item 3- A variety of sources
As great as your teachers notes might be, it is important that you read up on things for your subject from a variety of sources. If you're studying higher english for example, there are online resources that you can use for your texts and poems, as well as newspaper articles that you can read to get you prepared for the close reading. 

My first port of call is always the internet, but sometimes you need more than just that. As I said, newspapers are great for English, but it could also be a good idea to read newspapers and magazines in the language that you are studying. You could also watch movies in that language (With or without English subtitles) to improve your listening skills. 

Most subjects in Scotland and England have textbooks too, which have been brilliant in my experience, as well as past paper books. If you can't get a past paper book though, there should be past papers uploaded onto the website of your qualification; SQA for Scotland. 

Item 4- Motivation
Motivate yourself, woman! (Or man). Otherwise, how the flip can you expect yourself to get stuff done! 

You know best what the most effective methods of motivation are for you, so use them to your advantage! Get your ass onto tumblr, pintrest, or weheart it, and look up some motivational quotes. Make a playlist of motivational beats. Wake up, and force yourself to smile- they say that if you start your day with a smile, you're more likely to have a positive attitude through the rest of the day. Do your thirty minutes of exercise in the morning. Reward yourself. Oh, and speaking of rewards....

Item 5- Rewards
Exams are tough, and stressful, and they can burn you out real fast. If you want to do well in your exams, you're going to want to do everything in your power to ensure you don't get completely burnt out. One way of doing that, is rewarding yourself.

Here are some ways you can reward yourself...
-After every chunk of studying you do, take an appropriate break. For example, after 1 hour take a 15 minute break, and after 2 hours take a 30 minute break. During this break you can do anything you like- play guitar, read a book for leisure, colour in, watch tv... Avoid using phones, laptops, ect. just because they can distract you so much, and you're more likely to go over your allocated break.

-While you study, make sure you have a drink and a snack at hand. This should motivate you, and allow you to do more studying, rather than taking breaks for food. Furthermore, you'll be able to use food as a reward. For example, after every A4 page of notes I get done, I reward myself with a square of chocolate, or a few grapes. 

-After an exam, reward yourself by giving yourself the rest of the day off. Even if you have another exam the next day, you should have been studying long enough that you know everything you need to know for that exam. It's always good to go out with friends after an exam, to wind down after all the stress your body has been through

-Make a to-do list of everything you need to learn, and then after you check off every individual thing, reward yourself somehow. You could give yourself a break, earn your snacks, or whatever. The possibilities are endless.

-Giving yourself something to look forward to at the end of your exam diet is always a good idea, be it a party, a holiday, a shopping trip, a concert... pretty much anything! Last year, I booked tickets to go and see 5 seconds of summer after my exams, and I honestly don't know how I would have survived without it. Every time I felt demotivated, or found myself curled up in bed crying tears of frustration, stressed out of my mind because I JUST COULDN'T DO THIS ANYMORE, I reminded myself that I had something to look forward to. I told myself "Just get through this. Do your best. And once it's all done, you're going to see one of your favourite bands, in real life. You can do this. It'll be worth it. Just pull yourself through"

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