What Is ‘Exam Season’? (And How To Prepare For It)
With most exams taking place in May, the one-and-a-half-month period beforehand is commonly referred to as ‘exam season’. During it, many will be scrambling to the library with revision schedules and caffeine.
To make the most of this time, here are 5 things you should be aware of during exam season.
Get to the library early, or don’t.
Exams are usually synonymous with the library as most students want to surround themselves with a good work environment where they can revise with the comfort of knowing that others are going through the same thing as they are.
Unfortunately, this means that the library will be insanely busy—finding a desk for yourself will be a challenge. Finding desks for you and your friends will be close to impossible. In this scenario, it’s simpler to get to the library as early as you can wake up; this will give you not only more seating options but also more time to revise during the day. This will also help you maintain a good sleep schedule. In other words, if you get to the library at 2 PM, don’t expect your favourite seat to be free.
Be ready to bring your own laptop; library computers may all be taken, some will be reserved, and others will have their users gone on 2-hour long lunch breaks. Plus, you can keep working on your laptop after the actual library computer shut off.
Coursemates are great until…
Group revision is a good way to revise. A key thing to do is to learn the material as it is, then attempt to simplify it and explain it in these simple points to your group.
By vocalizing what you’ve learnt to others, you’re remembering and understanding it in a way that’s different than the lecture notes. Beyond this, it’s also useful to go over material together when you don’t have a clear understanding of it. Group revision is just everyone helping each other.
However, there are ways in which this can be detrimental. Stress levels are already high during exam season, and course mates discussing advanced concepts that you did not focus on in your revisions may result in more unwanted stress!
In fact, even asking about their time spent in the library might result in stress. Unfortunately, you will not be able to avoid this unless you isolate yourself from social interactions. Therefore, considering it’s likely that your stress levels will go up regardless, try to use talking to other people as motivation. If you can’t manage 6 hours at the library on your own, go with a group of course mates. Their presence will help you stay longer.
Take breaks, but not ones that will involve you going on a two-hour lunch or coffee. By the time you make it back, it will be all the harder to work. A common suggestion is to take 10 mins every hour, just to stay refreshed and maintain focus.
If productivity is the issue, try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo to maximize productivity in blocks of 25 mins. It combines both work and breaks so it may be worth a try if you feel yourself struggling. Below are its core principles:
- Choose a task to be accomplished.
- Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
- Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
- Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
- Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
It’s important to note that these 25 minute blocks are not interruptible; if there is a distraction, pause the timer and start a new one after you’ve taken care of it. At its core, it’s all about maximizing your productivity and focus in those 25 minutes.
Long nights or long days?
Sleep is probably the next important thing when designing a revision schedule. Ideally, you want to start early and end late in the afternoon and work a set number of hours every day. This will give you some time at home to relax and prepare your day for tomorrow, as well as go over the material you covered during the day.
However, if you happen to be a more productive person in the evenings, then this will call for a slight lifestyle change. Forcing your body to stay awake for extended periods where there is no natural sunlight will affect your health. A night time schedule will also require you to switch back to a normal sleep schedule once exams roll around; rotating sleep schedules is very detrimental to your health and will affect your focus on the day.
William Tong is a contributor for Inspiring Interns.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobsLondon, visit their website.