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5 things to remember during exam time

31 May 2016
Our experts offer vital advice for students ahead of exams
Feeling stressed and anxious is completely normal at this point in semester, but it’s crucial to maintain some balance and develop skills so you can do your best.

We spoke to Dr Clinton Moore, a senior counsellor with five years’ experience at the University’s Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Dr Bronwyn James, head of the Learning Centre with more than 20 years’ experience in the field of language and learning. Both services provide students with workshops, resources and other tools to help them succeed at uni.

1. Organise yourself, but don't go to extremes

“Even though the temptation is there for students to focus 100 percent on study, we always advocate that you keep up the basic routine of having three proper meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), getting eight hours sleep, and scheduling around two hours of downtime. This little bit of self-care does wonders for converting your study into long-term memory. “- Dr Clinton Moore.

“Not many of us are good at last minute 'cramming' - so draw up a study timetable for yourself covering the weeks leading up to the exam period. Time management is an individual thing as we each have different demands: paid work, family obligations and so forth. Allow yourself as much time as you can to comfortably revise and be ready for the exam period, and let your family and friends know that this is what you are doing.” - Dr Bronwyn James

2. Manage your own expectations

“From our point of view the most common cause of stress is expectations. Whilst we know that everyone is here to do well, we encourage students to take a flexible approach to their performance. This is especially important because studies indicate that highly perfectionistic students actually perform more poorly than students who dare to reduce their expectations, because the more flexible students have more energy.” – Clinton

Hear some study secrets from our students.

3. Get in ‘the zone’

“First of all, try to study when you are most alert and not sleepy. When you’re ready, get yourself up somewhere comfortable, with lots of light and as few distractions as possible and turn off your mobile phone. It’s a good idea to set yourself a very specific target for each study session. For example, one student we worked with recently at the Learning Centre said they found success using visual techniques like brainstorming or tree diagrams to help understand and remember connections between pieces of information, or between concepts and examples.” – Bronwyn

4. Know what to do if things start to feel overwhelming

“In situations like these the most important thing a student can do is stop. Sometimes just stepping outside of the situation for a moment can do wonders. After that it’s time to get some support. Whether it be friends, family, or a mental health professionals like those at CAPS, it’s important that they reach out to someone rather than sitting with the problem themselves.” – Clinton

5. Don't overthink it!

Feeling stressed and anxious is completely normal at this point in semester, but it’s crucial to maintain some balance and develop skills so you can do your best.

“This is probably not the first exam that you have ever done – and you have done well enough in those earlier exams to make it into uni – so walk in with a positive attitude, read the instructions carefully, keep breathing and start writing!” - Bronwyn