You’ve finished your mock exams.
You’ve got your results back. You’ve said farewell to your teachers and friends. You’ve done the bulk of the work for your final exams that are coming up.
So what happens next?
You may be feeling a bit lost at this point.
If you’re unsure about what you should be doing and what your day should look like, here’s a little guidance to keep you on track.
1. Give your day some structure
First up, your day needs to have some sort of shape to it.
What could this look like?
• Waking up at a certain time and going to bed at the same time
• Eating a nutritious breakfast
• Having a shower and getting dressed so you mean business
• Studying at set times and taking regular breaks
• Doing something fun for at least 30 minutes
• Taking the dog for a walk in the morning and/or afternoon
• Meeting up with a friend to study at the library
• Having a study session with a tutor
Having a set routine will keep you grounded and centered.
2. Take care of yourself
Think of yourself like an actor and each exam is the final performance for the subject. You need to be in top shape (mentally and physically) for the final show. So you need to look after yourself.
Make self care your top priority.
Eating well, getting good sleep and doing fun things is time well spent. Why? Because engaging in these things will help you stay sane and keep you energised and focused.
3. Try Snack Study (not Binge Study)
Remember, you’re an actor. You can’t just throw your script away and say, “I know it!”. Because sure, you probably do know it at some level. You could wing it. But to truly excel, you need to really know your lines (i.e. the content).
According to Ebbinghaus’s Curve of Forgetting, information leaks out of our brains over time. This means you need to keep revisiting the information to make it stick.
Part of your daily routine could include going through a set of flashcards and/or doing practice exams in short bursts (25 minutes followed by a short break).
4. Write your daily goals on a post-it note
What do you want to accomplish in the day?
Grab a post-it note and write down what you’re going to do.
If you struggle to come up with specific tasks, simply set time-based goals (e.g. “Revise Modern history for 25 minutes” and “Do 35 minutes of chemistry”).
Don’t be overly ambitious. Set the bar low and aim to do something (rather than nothing) for each subject.
5. Start before you feel ready
There’s a good chance you’re not feeling 100% pumped and motivated to study for exams. That’s okay because motivation isn’t required to get started. You just need to force yourself to start. At some point, the motivation will kick in.
6. Prioritise sleep
It’s much harder to focus and memorise information when you’re sleep deprived. Lack of sleep also messes with your emotions.
In short, sleep helps you to think and feel better. And when you feel good and your mind is clear, it’s so much easier to study.
7. Compare you to you
Don’t compare yourself to your classmates. Compare you to you.
Compared to last week, are you more knowledgeable? Are you feeling more confident about things? Are you feeling stronger?
Stay focused on your own path.
8. Get off social media
Social media is ground zero for making upward comparisons (i.e. the kind of comparisons that make you feel bad). Studies have also found students who spend more time on social media tend to do worse academically than others.
So give yourself a break from the online world. Ask your parents or a trusted friend to change your password on social media. You may experience some withdrawal symptoms for a day or two, but after that, you’ll find it quite liberating.
9. Focus on the next small step
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to sit several exams. So just focus on the next small step you need to take.
• What do you need to do in the next 10 minutes?
• What will move you closer towards exam success?
Focus on just doing that. Block out all the rest.
10. Think about how good you’ll feel when it’s all over
Picture yourself walking out of your final exam and heading out to celebrate with your friends and family. You want to finish your exams knowing you gave it your very best shot. Because at the end of the day, that’s all you can do.