How to survive exam season

Exam season is hereeeeee! This is the time where everybody starts realising that they should start taking things seriously instead of turning up to lectures hungover/still drunk (or not at all in some cases), stop putting off work with chores such as tidying your room and abstaining from any type of fun whatsoever. The worst part of this time is that everybody has to become really work orientated and but the good part is it’s like the calm before the storm, because once exam season is over everybody will be be in full on party mode.

However, freedom seems like a distant dream right now, but between writing essays I’ve come up with a mini survival guide for exam season:

1) Prioritise

This is what I was doing at 3:00am after two energy drinks.

When I say this, I’m not thinking of the little efficient things, such as starting your essay/revision and THEN checking your emails and social networking sites, nor am I saying don’t have a coffee break for every 200 words you write, because let’s be honest, we’ll all carry on doing them regardless of how much more work we’d get done if we didn’t.

No, I’m talking about the BIG things. For example, it’s now my last week of lectures, and I had a choice, go to my lectures about topics that I’m not going to research or write about because it’d take too much time (and because I’m incredibly lazy), or actually start my essays and make real progress. Of course, me being me, I started my essay at 3:00 am in the morning because I’d downed two energy drinks whilst working in the library, and was so pumped up with caffeine that my heart was racing so fast I thought I was actually having heart failure.

Of course, this meant I missed my lectures because after crashing at half five in the morning; I then slept through the day and eventually emerged from my pit at 12:00 in the afternoon. I still could have made my seminar but I decided to skip it because I decided stocking up on more energy drinks would be beneficial to the essay writing process. My point is that you should make sacrifices where possible, of course, I’m aware that those of you doing a real degree have exams, and thus feverently attend your lectures; if you’re doing a BS 100% coursework humanities course like me though, skip ’em!

2) Avoid alcohol

You don’t need to be in this state when your have exams (or EVER actually).

It’s natural to want to blow of steam when you’ve spent the day in the library chained to a desk alternating between working and desperately trying to hide all the food, and drinks that are not bottled water from security, but alcohol is not the answer. You’ll feel great when you’re dancing away, one finger in the air, eyes half closed but you’ll regret it when you wake up face down in your pillow and you’ll regret it even more when you remember you have coursework due in and exams rapidly approaching.

If your hangovers are anything like mine, then firstly, you have my deepest sympathies. Secondly, we both know that work just isn’t an option, – AT ALL. Lounging in bed till midday is, lying in the sun because ”it helps you come round” is, catching up on your tv programmes is and generally just spending the day doing nothing is all acceptable. This is NOT acceptable when it’s exam season though! It’s only a few weeks of your life where you don’t abuse your liver and when you can’t get away with missing a day of work, so put the shot glasses down, avoid all those pesky humanities students with their Micky Mouse degrees who are trying to entice you out, and spend the next few weeks dryer than the sahara.

3) Exercise

Admit, you’ve dance along to your ipod like this.

Apart from the odd walk to your lecture (if you’re studying for a real degree and need to attend your lectures that is) then you’ll most likely be spending most of your time in your room or in the library. Consequently, there’s a risk you might end up going a bit feral or feeling depressed so make sure to stay especially active during exam season, even if it’s just a midnight walk (I go on these frequently). Whether it’s a hard session at the gym, impromptu dance session with your ipod (we all do it) or a hot and heavy sex session, get moving and release those endorphins into your body!

4) Work Alone

How I fear I look after completing my work.

There’s always that one friend who says ”Let’s have a study session!” and you think, ”Ok, we can help each other”. It never works does it?  You get your books, paper and pens out in front of you and have a little natter and then BOOM, four hours have passed and all you’ve talked about everything under the sun. The irony is when you both talk about how you’re going to fail and your work is sat in front of you untouched.

When I work, I lock my door and become a recluse. When I emerge I’m slightly wild eyed and bedraggled, but I’ve done my work. Sometimes I’m locked away for so long I check the mirror before I leave to ensure the stress of it all hasn’t made me go grey like Gandalf  and that I haven’t been locked away so long  that I’ve grown a beard to rival his. Study groups rarely work in my opinion, you get distracted. In fact, if someone suggests a study group to me I only attend as an excuse to be distracted.

5) If you have exams, forgo the all nighters.

This is what I looked like when I turned up to my exam sleep deprived.

Doing an all nighter for an essay is pretty standard, I’ve done a couple of them and I realised how many great ideas I come up with when sleep deprived. Admittedly, when I look at it after I’ve slept I start to wonder if I magically learnt Swahili the night before because the grammar and spelling is that atrocious, but my point still stands.

I no longer have exams, but back in my gcse and A level days, I did. I only once did an all nighter before my exam, and let me tell you something, I’d have got more marks if I didn’t bother turning up. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but running only only three hours sleep before an A2 exam wasn’t my brightest idea. I turned up to the exam feeling like I’d been smacked in the face with a shovel, and I was starting to wonder whether I’d have to sellotape my eyes open to stay conscious. I passed the exam, but I made so many ridiculous mistakes that wouldn’t have occurred if I’d had a decent nights sleep. I actually cried when I got home after that exam, so please go to bed nice and early before exams!

6) Remember the library is like being on holiday.

The beach equivalent of a library during exam season.

Before you rush to the library to see if they’re replaced desks with sun loungers that come with someone who’ll rub sun lotion into your back whilst you suck on an ice lolly (not a euphemism), let me explain. I walked into the library on a Wednesday afternoon thinking, ”I’ll find a seat, and crack on”, oh how wrong I was. Finding a spare desk in the library is like trying to find a sun lounger on holiday that DOESN’T have a towel on it. You can’t just roll up at 2pm and expect there to be free seats! I was starting to feel like I was in a labyrinth at one point because I was seeing the same faces again and again – I’d walked round that many times. People are keen, they’re dedicated to their degrees which will give them a good job at the end of it (so not humanities students). You have to get in there EARLY.

It’s worth pointing out that the library is also a bit like the cinema, because there’s always one noisy person rustling their food (guilty) or having their phone vibrate every couple of seconds, you’re here to STUDY, so put your phone in your pocket and not on the desk and please stop distracting me from my poetry, because Dramatic Monologues are going to help me get employed at the end of my degree (haha).

7) Remember that you will be free.

How we’ll all feel when it’s all over.

I know at the moment things look a little bleak, you’re up to your eyeballs in work and it doesn’t seem to be shifting, but it’ll all be ok! You’ve gone through this before and made it! Of course, you’ll have to go through this again and it’ll be much more complicated and time consuming next time around, but when that times comes, the pain of this will have faded!

Soon you shall be free to drink alcohol again, spend days doing what you like and there will be no impending deadlines or exams that you’re convinced the lecturers have set as a joke, so stay positive!

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