How To Survive Exam Season (& 3 hour exams)

exam season and revision tips flat lay with nescafe pods

I can’t think of a time in my life where I haven’t been learning something. However, it’s been over ten years since I’ve been in an academic situation like University. I graduated with my BSc (Hons) Exercise Science way back in 2006 and started my MSc Management with Business Innovation in 2017.

Not only is there a huge leap in the expectations and work required, it seems that I’ve changed as a learner. I used to be a reader / writer… I could happily read a textbook, make notes and feel confident about my subject. But when revising for my Marketing exam in the autumn term, reading my textbook sent me straight to sleep… literally.

I was forced to find new ways of taking in information and I got acquainted with sitting 2-3hr exams again so of course I’ve documented what I’ve learnt (pun intended) so far, right here (mostly for my own reference) along with some other tips to help you get prepared for exam period!

Use Podcasts to help you revise

I found podcasts to be a total lifesaver for my marketing revision. It kinda depends what topic you’re revising but there’s lots out there that a simple google search can bring to your attention. They’re handy as you just have to listen and can do other things at the same time. They’re a great use of time when commuting too!

Survive Exam Season with Revision YouTube playlists

When it came to revising for Research Methods, unsurprisingly, there were no interesting podcasts out there. What I did find though was a wealth of information on YouTube. I created a specific playlist and saved any related videos so I could come back to them if needed and like podcasts, sometimes you didn’t even need to watch, you could just listen and do other things!

Why it’s good to talk

Now, I didn’t go to university to make friends but I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a select few people who are there to achieve the best they can too. Our lecturers have been encouraging us all to interact however the facilities, i.e lecture theatres don’t really facilitate that.

However, most of what I’ve learnt when it comes to surviving exam season has come from chatting to fellow students. Different people have different strengths and are willing to share information.

I also find that talking through what you’re revising is a good way to check your understanding and sometimes I end up remembering the things that I didn’t get the first time better than anything else because someone explained or challenged me on it!

Sleep, eat and stay hydrated

You’d think this goes without saying but I saw so many people who were sleep deprived and not eating well when they turned up for exams. Your body needs sleep, food and water to function well.

Your brain needs these things and you need your brain so why would you not sleep, eat well or drink lots of water?! Here are some tips on getting a good nights sleep, and as much as coffee is handy, remember that it does dehydrate you so drink plenty of water too!

Take time out to sweat

Yeeeees, you should exercise. Schedule it in; first thing in the morning, on your lunch break or in the evening. Make time for yourself in between all the reading, writing and thinking because it will actually help you to focus better and be more productive.

It’s good to move and it will also encourage you to eat well and look after your mind and your body during what can be an intense and stressful period of time.

Set up your surroundings for success

TV is a myth for me. I never watched live TV anyway but I was partial to a Netflix binge every now and again (when is Stranger Things back, people?). However, TV can be a bit of a distraction even if you just use it for background noise.

I found some great playlists on Spotify – this one, Revision Ballads, is one of my favourites – which were perfect for having on when revising so I highly recommend searching for one on there or whatever music platform you use.

Can your pen make a difference?

The short answer is yes. And so does your handwriting. Over recent years we’ve become so accustomed to not even having to write that 3 hours took a physical toll on my hands!

I got to have a chat with Craig Poland-Smith, Calligrapher (to Royals) of London Scribes at a recent Nespresso event so I asked him a few related questions about being in exams. Here is what he shared with me:

  1. Don’t hold onto your pen too tightly. Too right a grip will put unnecessary strain on your hand and cause it to feel tired
  2. Keep an eye on your posture; sit up nice and straight with both feet flat on the floor. In an ideal world he shared with me that you would use an easel (like he does) but we don’t have that luxury in an exam so just focus on not allowing yourself to slump over the table you’re sat at.
  3. Then as simple as it may sound, and as difficult as it may be, just relax!

As for pens themselves, I’ve been using these ones. They’re 1.0 and write smoothly which helps me to write faster (they came recommended from a fellow student so I stocked up!).

Best of luck with your revision, exams and your studies… If you have any more tips please do share them with me in the comments below or on my social channels…



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