With exam season starting today here are some practical tips to help you revise and stay balanced.
Managing exam stress
Most people experience pressure, stress and anxiety when it comes to exams and while a certain amount of pressure is good and helps us perform well, it is important to keep some balance and perspective. There are lots of practical activities you can do to help stay calm such as plan your time, set reminders for regular breaks, enjoy some exercise and practice mindfulness or talk to a friend about how you're feeling. If you prefer not to talk directly to a person you know, the Big White Wall is a useful 24/7, online, mental health and wellbeing service which all BU students can sign up to for free.
Our preparing for exams web pages also offer some great practical tips for revision - including reading past papers, being realistic about what you can achieve in each revision session and giving yourself some small reward goals - as well as for during your exams.
SUBU Advice offer support to help you stay calm during the exams - read their guide to managing exam stress to help you prepare.
1. Test yourself
There's a concept called the 'student illusion’ which refers to a false belief that simply reading over your notes will be an adequate revision strategy. In fact, this is a very poor strategy. Memory is affected by how deeply you process the to-be-remembered information. Simply reading over the information is shallow, or superficial, processing and will result in weak memory. A far better strategy is to test yourself - perhaps, create some revision cue-cards and repeatedly test yourself on that information. Research has shown that testing yourself results in far more items being remembered - just make sure the information is correct first or you might memorise the wrong content.
It's also been shown that revision improves when you include a gap between repetitions - so rather than cram all your revision into a single session, space out your revision schedule so that you are self-testing the same content over a number of revision sessions.
2. Pre-sleep revision
Information learnt before sleep has been shown to be remembered better. When you're asleep, you are not being exposed to new information/new memories, so there's less opportunity for the stuff you've just learnt to be interfered with by new memories, so your most recent memories become stronger. It may be useful to re-cap on the information you've revised that day just before going to bed to help consolidate those memories.
3. Re-create your revision environment
When we learn information, we do not do this in a vacuum, and your memories become associated with the environment in which information is being learnt. Since those two things are linked, re-creating elements of your revision environment can act as a cue for the revised information. If you always revise in your bedroom, once in your exam, imagine being in your bedroom to help cue the information learnt in that environment. Or, for example, if you always eat mints when revising, take some mints into the exam.
Where to revise and study on campus
There are lots of places to revise and study on campus, whether you prefer to work in social enviornment, a silent space or out of hours.
The Student Centre and Fusion Building on the Talbot Campus, as well as the BoHo Lounge, EBC & Studland House cafes, Naked Deli in the BU International College and SUBU Engine Rooms at the Lansdowne Campus offer charge points and comfortable areas if you like to have lots of noise and activity around you while you work. For those of you who like quiet study spaces you can access silent study spaces in both BU libraries as well as in the EBC, and if you work best late at night or early in the morning check when our libraries are open and our Open Access Centres on both campuses are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information visit the exam section of the website and our Exams: do's and don'ts tips. And remember, if you're feeling overwhelemed or anxious, you can always contact the Student Wellbeing team.