Words by Moiza Butt
The paper in your university notebook is running out. You’re missing lectures to make up for work you need to hand in. The sun is out but you’re stuck inside the library researching, looking on the outside where people actually have a life. Praising yourself for when you decided to get a fringe, so you can hide your bushy brows, which are now beyond taming because you don’t have time to get them done.
People keep telling you that you look tired and stressed (yes, we heard you the first time!).
It can mean only one thing – exams are coming.
I’m lucky because this year I only have two exams but whether it’s two or twenty, each exam is a burden in itself. I hate exams. I’m rubbish at them. But I need to sit them if I have any chance of passing this year. Here are a few tips that have helped make my life bearable through this difficult period!
Wake up in the morning. I know it’s a cliché and everyone says it, but it’s true. Mornings are for working and nights are kept free to relax because you know once it gets dark, you won’t be working. Once you get some work done, you can reward yourself by enjoying the rest of the day watching back-to-back episodes of True Detective. Hello Matthew Mcconaughey!
Pick the right environment. Whether it’s the library, your bedroom or a coffee shop. Try it out and see where you’re least distracted. I personally find working on a spacious desk by myself works for me. Everything distracts me, so I like to work in a place where nothing can disturb me.
Organization? Check! Make a list of anything and everything. Tick it off as you go along so you feel like you’ve accomplished something. As silly as it seems, it works. You’ll see how well you’re progressing and at what speed you’re working at too.
Don’t mix business and pleasure. Even I’m guilty of this. We try to make ourselves comfortable so that working is bearable. For example, if you’re working at home, don’t sit on the bed. Keep the bed for resting and keep your desk for working. It looks comfy and it’s tempting but you’re going to take a nap and you know it!
Food glorious food. Just give me that Dairy Milk, someone, please. The amount of chocolate I eat when I’m working, no force can stop me. But if you’re trying to lose weight for graduation, which I know many of you are, keep yourself away from unhealthy foods. Eat brain food. Surround yourself with foods like nuts, fruit and water, especially when the weather is warmer because you’ll want to eat them. (There’s an old wives tale in the Asian community where you’re not supposed to eat almonds and water together because you’ll get a sore throat so be careful!) There’s more of a chance you won’t be reaching for that junk if the food is already around you because if you’re lazy like me, getting up from your chair is an effort.
Music. It works for some and for others it disturbs. I find listening to music helps me. I try to listen to music I’m not too familiar with because if I listen to The Weekend or Lana Del Ray, I will stop working to pull out that hairbrush! My favourites to listen to are London Grammar and Pharrell.
Once you’re familiar with it, change it up again. Listen to it on a low volume so your focus is your work.
Make a list of things you want to do once exams are over. I plan on watching endless TV, reading books for pleasure again, baking, hitting theme parks, movie nights and Come Dine With Me sessions. Have something to be excited for when all this is over.
Take some time for yourself. Have one day a week where you don’t do anything. Get that list of errands done. Meet a friend. Go shopping. Pamper yourself. Anything to take your mind off exams for a few hours.
My final tip is probably the most important.
Make exams easy for yourself. Create mind maps. Whip out those highlighters and post-it notes. Break it down. If you have to remember lots of facts, make songs out of them so you remember. If you’re studying a novel, remember to focus on a few themes.
That’s all folks! Good luck!
Moiza Butt is currently in her third year studying English Literature at MMU. You can follow her on Twitter @MoizaB