With much of Norwich’s greenery blossoming into meadows of daffodils, the turning point of the spring/summer season is here. A turning point for more than just weather: it is often a time for the closing of one door, ready for the next to open. For some, this means it’s time to swap the 11:00 biscuit break for an apple and a gym session in an attempt to be ‘beach-body ready’ (to quote the controversial ad courtesy of Protein World). Yet for most on campus, the aforementioned beach is only a mirage on these sunny days, woefully split as they are between the library and the nearest supply of coffee. A masters student, a poor dissertation victim or a first year (relying on the fact that your year doesn’t count towards your degree!): wherever you are in your university journey, this is a time where the build-up of deadlines and stress are inevitable.
Unfortunately, this year’s exam timetabling hiccup may not have worked in your favour to ease this stress. Though these frustrating timetables are now confirmed, it does not mean all hope is out the window. So firstly, let’s think of some positives: for many, that dream of summer will become a reality much sooner than initially anticipated. Furthermore, many exams frankly test memory rather than skill and understanding. So with less time between the last weeks of teaching and the beginning of exams, that means you’ve got less time to forget everything – assuming you went to your lectures and seminars!
Think of revision this time around like a high intensity interval training exercise. Rather than the old fashioned method of ongoing cardio, you do short intense bursts of work with short breaks in between. While you may feel like throwing up at the time, it is actually super effective and has positive effects on the body even once you have finished exercising. Similarly, time is of the essence this year when it comes to revision, so keep your sessions short and sweet, but intense. Your brain will be primed for focus from the regular breaks and short concentration periods allowing the information to sink in. Studies have also shown that re-revising the same content three times with small breaks in between can really help to move knowledge from the short-term memory into the long-term memory. Study alone, in groups, online, outside, mix it up – we can’t all fit in the library!
The other thing to remember is that while these exams and essays are important – and let’s be honest, you are paying a heck of a lot of money to do them – the key to stress management is to not let them completely take over your life. Be sure to get out of the house each day, even for just five minutes. Try to make at least one social plan a week, especially if you or your friends are graduating – small things that may not seem like a priority but truly help in maintaining your sanity during these stressful times. If it all seems to be getting a bit too much, a walk in the fresh air and a cheeky ice-cream can really help cool you off, in more ways than one! The sun is out, go see what it looks like – but not directly please!