So, 8 hours ago, I had my first exam of the year. Obviously, passing your course is pretty vital to getting a job, so I thought that a nice long post about it would be relevant, especially at this time of year…
Let me take a moment to tell a bit of a life story:
As I (think I) wrote in my About Me section, I only transferred to Newcastle Uni in January – last semester, I studied Creative Writing and Drama at a different university. Obviously, I wasn’t happy, hence the transfer! I worked very, very hard to get onto the English Literature course I’m doing here over November of last year, and found out in December that I was moving out. The reason I had to work so particularly hard to prove myself to Newcastle is that in college, I studied…music technology! Yeah, I know – skipping around subject areas much?
Anyway, what this all comes down to is that I haven’t had an exam since June 2007. That’s LITERALLY three years. I had pretty much no idea what to do – but with a lot of help from my wonderful boyfriend, the courage he and my other flatmates showed in living through my nervous episodes (last night I got angry with the Ziploc bags and rearranged the entire cupboard) I learnt the best ways to go through exam season. So with them fresh in my mind, I thought I’d relay them to you. Here they are!
1) Don’t panic. This is always the worst thing to do, in any situation! I cannot stress this enough.
2) Start early. Doing 30 mins of light revision a day is a lot more relaxing than doing 10 hours of hardcore revision the day before.
3) (also applicable as general life advice) Eat healthy. Get your greens (dark, leafy greens are the best for brain power) and plenty of protein to keep you going, preferably from things like chicken and eggs, rather than huge steaks! DEFINITELY eat your 5 a day – I average around 10 a day and I’m the happiest person I know. Sickening, isn’t it?! But how are you to afford all this delicious healthy stuff, I hear you cry?
4) Don’t drink. This one isn’t applicable as general life advice, of course, but for AT LEAST a week before your exam(s), stop drinking. If you go out perhaps 3 times in a week which I guess is the average for a student, you’ll be saving £50+ to spend on lovely things that help you work better. I know it sounds awful at first, but I stopped going out about 2 months ago (for fitness reasons!) and have never ever felt better. Try it, go on!
5) Exercise. Yes, this sounds odd – where are you going to find the time in your new veggie-and-revision scheme to exercise? But again, this is something I stumbled on by accident. Over the last week, I’ve found myself coming back from the gym only to be DESPERATE to get my brain working. It was incredible – definitely the time when most of my revision has happened. Just a 30 minute brisk walk is great – and you can get in shape for summer with it!
6) (on the day) Wake up a few hours before, and don’t try to cram at the last second – read over the material again, if it’s an essay-type exam situation, maybe jot down a few points that you could write about.
7) Don’t panic! I’m serious – don’t!
So there you go. And now that my first exam has passed, (and hopefully I have, too) I can swear by those rules – I’ve never felt so calm in an exam situation, and feel like I did extremely well. More on this when results come out, though…!
EDIT: I spent many gruelling hours looking for a picture of Elle from Legally Blonde reading her massive law book whilst on a treadmill and watching TV, but…there just isn’t one. So here’s a picture of Elle from Legally Blonde: