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surviving exams with your sanity intact

Morning loves.  Time for a chat/waffle/ramble today.  About exams, and how to not let them ruin your life.

Not the most bouncing-off-the-walls-excited of topics, but life can’t be all sunshine and rainbows!  Many people I know IRL and in blogland are sitting exams of some kind or other in the next couple of weeks (or are one of the lucky buggers that have finished already – damn you) so if not exciting, it’s at least relevant.  Uni, A levels, GCSEs, whatever.  Jeez even year 6 SATS are stressing the 11 year olds out at the moment.  Don’t even get me started on that debate!

I feel like there are 3 types of people around this time.  The ‘Get Head Down’ers, the ‘Winging It’ers, and the ‘Muddle Through Doing Both’ers.  Type 3 over here.

Part of me feels like being totally irresponsible preaching that your life ain’t a number or a grade and to hell with it, and part of me feels like we’re pretty damn lucky to have a free education in the first place so should shut up complaining about it and open a textbook or 6.  I oscillate (lol such a physics nerd) between the two a good few times a day.  And usually settle somewhere in between.  Exams matter, of course they do, so try your absolute best.  But it’s really not the end of the world if it all goes tits up.  We’ve all heard enough stories of J.K Rowling and the like to know that several failures doesn’t mean you won’t make it in the end.

Prioritising is literally my biggest struggle atm.  I’m a couple of practical exams down already, and have another 6 to go that boyyyy I am not looking forward to.  Making time for friends and fam, keeping on top of blogging (a newspaper can’t stop printing for 2 months and expect readers at the end of it, can it?), maintaining some level of fitness routine and ideally sanity, is ever so slightly tricky when you’re trying to up your IQ overnight.

In that vein, I thought I’d share my recommendations for revising most effectively and not letting exams take over your life!

— Change your scenery.  Yes, you can still go places during exams.  And you should.  Day trip, weekend away, the back garden, cafe down the road, whatever.  Take your notes with you.  Seriously that silver calculator goes everywhere with me.  Whatever you do, don’t sit in the same room all the time.  Way to make it more boring and less effective!  You’ll associate X paragraph with Y place, and you just never know what might pop into your mind during the exam.

— Mix things up as much as possible.  Mindmaps work for you?  Great.  Do something else as well.  Find what works for you, but don’t make a million identical mindmaps just because they’re ‘your thing’.


— Speak not write.  Conversations are really memorable for me, so if I’ve chatted about a topic or been tested verbally I’ve a (half) decent chance of remembering it.  Explained spectral classification to my mum whilst doing the ironing the other day.  It helped.  Doesn’t feel as miserable and boring either, win win.

— Don’t procrastinate revise.  It’s a thing, seriously!  Revising stuff you know inside out = procrastination.  Figure out exactly what you need to revise, and don’t bother with anything else.  Despite what you probably think, there’s a decent amount of information knocking about in your head already – don’t try to go over everythinggg from scratch.  I tend to flick through past papers/tests/practice questions, write down a list of ‘stuff I usually screw up’, and spend most time on that.

— Don’t overdo pretty notes.  Rich coming from me, I know!  But hey, just because I only Instagram the colour coded sheets doesn’t mean there isn’t another pile of boring looking scribbles.  Excessive ‘prettifying’ is just another form of procrastination.

— Early mornings.  I’ll preach this one ’til the day I die.  Revision all morning, all afternoon for you!  Simple.  Get out of bed.

— Cribsheets.  Or whatever you want to call them.  Won’t work for some sheets, but so useful for others.  For maths in particular I find it super handy having a whole unit/topic summarised and simplified on an A3 sheet, rather than spread throughout a book.  Would be useless for subjects like english or history though, I know.

— Don’t be a hermit.  Saying goodbye to a social life (completely) really isn’t gonna help.  Moderation, people, everything in moderation.


— Drink wine.  It helps solve equations, I promise. 😉

lily kate x

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  • Reply
    15th May 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Great tips! I wish I’d had a good, solid list of advice like this back when I was revising for exams. I’ve always been a head-down’er but no matter how much I did, I never felt like it was enough and would work all day, every day – work meaning study for 5 minutes, get distracted, study a bit, get distracted etc. etc. – without really giving myself any proper breaks (or even having a plan!) Getting drunk helps actually; once you’ve spent time learning something, you need to give your brain time to encode that information and getting drunk prevents new information interrupting the consolidation of your memories in the hippocampus 😉 xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Food, Travel, Italy

    • Reply
      lily kate
      17th May 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Thank you Lucy! I think we need all the help we can get during exam time. 😛 I never feel like I’ve done enough either, but procrastination/distraction gets me too!
      Totally agreed on getting drunk being helpful ;D Love that explanation!

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