Before the Exam
- Space your study sessions “decades of research have demonstrated that spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory. In other words, if you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it’s better to study it for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 12 hours into week four” (APA, Lea Winerman, p.25, 2011).
- Interweave the subjects- the brain retains information for longer when it is spaced out.
- Ask for help- if you feel that you are struggling with something or feel stumped on a certain topic or question, ask for help. You will feel better for it.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation- kick-starting your day with a short meditation session or mindfulness exercise will help with your productivity, memory recollection and provide stress relief while giving your mind a chance to recharge and refocus. Here are some resources for you to aid with this:
- Keep calm- try to control any nerves as best you can and sometimes nerves and stress can take over and impact our appetite and concentration levels (BBC good food, eating for exams, 2019).
- Eat regularly, stay hydrated and get enough sleep.
- Try to incorporate some form of exercise, this also helps with giving your brain a break and getting some air into your lungs.
- Only focus on what is in your control- you can only do your best, believe in yourself
During the Exam
- Make yourself comfortable- Do you need to go to the toilet before the exam starts? Are you neither too hot nor too cold? Take a few deep breaths to try to ease the tension you are feeling.
- Take time to read through all the instructions and questions carefully. Do that at least twice to make sure you get a firm grasp of the questions.
- Do your best to ignore everyone else while you are at the planning stage – not easy, but it helps.
- Decide whether you want to do the “easy” or “difficult” questions first. Doing an “easy” one first might help to relax you or maybe doing a “difficult” one first while you are very alert might be best for you.
- Manage your time- keep an eye on your watch so that you allow enough time for your final answer. If you don’t have enough time for that final answer, make a skeleton answer in note form – at least you will have put something down
- If you feel a bit panicky- stop, put down your pen and relax. Breathe slowly; close your eyes for a few minutes, if it helps, put your head on the desk. Move your head slowly from side to side to ease the tension. Say something positive and encouraging to yourself.
- If you feel unwell, ask the invigilator if you may leave the room for a short while – taking a few breaths of fresh air and some sips of water may be all you need to calm you down.
- Make sure you have what you need for the exam and also any nutritional snacks you wish to bring into the exam hall along with some water.
Lucinda De Stacpoole-Lynch is a Student Advisor on Tallaght Campus. You can find out more about the services that TU Dublin SU’s Student Advice Centre provide here.