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Exam Stress, The only way is…Planning

Planning your revision… 

Let’s face it few of us like doing exams and few of us like preparing for them. But sadly by not putting in the prep we are ultimately setting ourselves up to fail. I’m paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin here of course. 

As individuals we learn a lot about ourselves when we start to think about exams, whether they are A levels, GCSEs or end of term exams. How we apply ourselves, how we study, what our stress points are, how we can procrastinate, how we get busy doing something that’s really a distraction and not helpful at all. 

So how can we make it less painful and less stressful ? Well, here at Fox Paperworks we recommend using a revision planner. 

But what do you need to put on it? Here are our top tips for preparing your planner and setting your revision timetable. 

  • The first thing you need is the exam timetable, this should be shared with everyone and put in a prominent place for everyone to see so perhaps stick it on the fridge and mark it clearly, so you know whose timetable it is. Use some cute paper so that it catches your eye as you walk past.

          Mark on the planner each exam, you might want to colour code the subjects. 

  • Add any events that might be happening between now and the end of the exam period including birthdays, concerts, family events, and also regular things such as clubs. It’s really important that everyone has time to relax as well as study so knowing what these events are in advance means that you can plan those in too.    
  •  And of course mark up the days for school and include study and revision periods that the school has set as these will be useful sessions too. 

          The next few bits you might want to do in ‘rough’ first… 

  • Work out the time between now and the exams and then divide by the number of subjects so you know how many days you have to revise for each subject. Then break each subject down into topics, chunking something down into smaller bits makes it much easier to manage. 
  • Now be honest, which topics are the ones you need to spend the most time on; they might be the ones that you find hardest or the ones that the most intense. Prioritise with a simple traffic light system perhaps marking something as green where you have a good understanding level of knowledge, amber where you have less knowledge or understanding and red where something is difficult for you and you haven’t found it easy to remember. 
  • It might be that a whole subject is amber and red or a few topics within a subject. This varies from person to person, there’s not right or wrong answer it’s just to help you understand where you need to focus and also what you should do first.
  • Whilst we might want to take the path of least resistance and study something that we find easy first and put off the tough stuff until later but putting it off is less helpful especially if we’re tired or it’s getting closer and closer to the deadline. It just adds to the pressure. 
  • Be kind to yourself and schedule the most difficult things early in the day and have a treat of something that you find easier, and so probably enjoy more, towards the end of the day. Or as Brian Tracey and Mark Twain say, “eat the frog the first thing in the morning because you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst bit is behind you”. 
  • Build into your schedule regular breaks, in all honesty more than 40 minutes concentrated studying at one time becomes less effective you need to have a regular break of say 10 minutes after each 40 minute session. And after say 3 x 40 minutes sessions add in a longer break, just as you would at school or college. 
  • If you can the break should be away from your screen or desk. Go for a walk around the block, take the dog for a walk, go for a run, ring a study buddy can give each other a boost, have a snack (fruit would be best, sugar is tempting but we all know that it can have an adverse effect) or make a smoothie… it’s important to get up and move and just think about something else for a while so your brain can process what you’ve been studying. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water too. 
  • Once you’ve worked out your timetable in rough then add to your planner using your colour coding for subjects, breaks, fun time out, school and so on. Oh, and when you’ve done something don’t forget to tick it off… there’s great satisfaction 

Have a flexible and fluid approach to your timetable. If something isn’t sticking, you may need to spend a bit more time working on it. And even if you feel really tired just do a little bit and then give yourself some time out have an early night. 

Or listen to a destress app; there’s lots out there. Find the one that’s right for you and plug in and chill out. Use them when you go to bed to help you wind down and sleep. 

The BBC Bitesize site has some podcasts that might help you too and there’s lots of other tips if you Google them but the thing it to choose what works for you and stick with it… And good luck…

We have lots of items in the the Fox Paperworks store to help you keep your stress under control with cute notebooks and sticky notes to help you mark the pages.

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