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Revising: overcome stress and aim for success

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Struggling to find revision inspiration, and feeling alone in your frustration? There are ways to ease your revision stress

Revision is always one of the most stressful times of a student’s life.  If revision stress is really getting the better of you, there are plenty of ways to reorganise and revamp your time so you can feel confident and take on whatever is thrown your way. 

To help yourself

  • Organise your time table wisely. Start early and make sure you’re not being unrealistic in your study goals.  Cramming 12 hours of studying into one day is stressful and inefficient.  Why not start two days earlier than you feel necessary and change that 12 into three-three-two.  You’ll find yourself with much more useful downtime and not dreading long study days. 
  • Make sure you’re not overlooking exercise.Physical laziness encourages mental laziness. Exercise lowers anxiety, releases endorphins and gives you time to get your mind off of those exam notes. Work at least 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule and you’ll feel more energised and ready to take on even the most daunting sections of revision. Just make sure you begin your work as soon as you get back, so you don’t waste all of your energy on other tasks.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.  It’s so easy to jump from topic to topic without really delving deeply into any of them. This is when you walk away from the books realising you’ve retained nothing. Give yourself several hours to fully learn one topic or idea and then move on. If you do this from the start of revision, you’ll develop better study habits, and break the habit that so many of us have of just skimming over topics. 
  • Condense your notes.There is nothing more overwhelming than looking at an entire notebook full of gibberish.  Read your notes in sections, and transcribe them into another notebook. But instead of copying them word for word, see if you can condense the notes and link them to one another. Try copying sections multiple times, each time seeing how little space you can take up; the more you write them, the better you will remember them. 
  • Take breaks. Set benchmark goals for yourself that should take a few hours at a time. Reward yourself with a half hour break each time you complete a goal. The key to these goals is to make them realistic. If you have three hours worth of work to get done, don’t set the goal for two hours, or you’ll become anxious and stressed. With more gradual goals, you’ll likely find yourself motivated and less likely to become frustrated with your workload. 

If you need to turn to others for help, but don’t know how

  • Remember: asking for help saves stress and time. Professors are there to give you help and support through exams. If you are really stuck on a problem, the best thing to do is go straight to the source for an answer instead of mulling over it for hours. While it can be a little nerve-wracking addressing a professor one-on-one, when all is said and done, the time saved by asking for help is time that can go to other things, such as revising harder topics, or finishing early for the day. 
  • Find strength in numbers.You may feel like no one knows the pressure of exams quite like you do, but realise you’re not alone. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your friends, see how they are handling their exam timetable. Talk to older siblings or friends and ask advice - how did they deal with the pressure? Ask for advice on study tactics, how to maximise your study time, and get your mind off of exams by discussing other things. You’ll soon realise you’re not the first person to feel this pressure.
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Readers' comments (1)

  • Adam Roxby

    This is really good advice and i would always encourage students to use the services that are available to you. that may be your lecturer, the student services at your university or the community of students on this site. they are all valuable and will all be able to help you through the difficult times that you may encounter.

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