Fun fact: I got the idea of writing this blog post while in the second wave of my exams week. (I know right, why am I doing this to myself??? *sobs ungraciously*)
So just yesterday, exams week ended for me. And lookie lookie! I’m alive! YAAAAY WHOOP WHOOP!
I’m willing to bet that you’ve experienced the harshness of exams week at least once in your life. And like me, you’ve probably come up with this conspiracy theory that your teachers or professors secretly meet at a deserted, dimly-lit, tobacco-scented pub. There, they’d agree to give out their exams all on the same day. (Or maybe that’s just me, hekhek)
Exams week can be such an evil goblin.
And maybe like me, you’re a second- or fifth-rounder who just wants to get a better grip on exams. Folks, your sloppy potato truly here got some snazzy tips for you to get through exams week and how to prep for it physically, mentally and emotionally.
First things first, a disclaimer: These are all things that worked for me, a complete study newbie*. I’m not saying that they’ll work the same way for anyone else. Because maybe they won’t.
So like any advice and tips I share here, take these by the teeny-tiny grain 🙂 Okay? Okay, here we go!
*Yes that is a term. And seriously. I only started making my own sloppy potato version of a study habit this semester.
This one is a no-brainer. Of course you need to mentally prepare yourself for exams week because… it’s exams week.
But get this guys: even when I knew I HAD to mentally prepare myself for exams, I still ended up procrastinating and cramming at the last minute. Now back in high school, I could get away with cramming and winging major tests. I’d still get a passing grade, anyway.
But college is cram- and wing-it-proof. I had to learn that fact the hard way. And maybe you have high school exams over there that are cram- and wing-it-proof as well like SATs and A-Levels*.
So a mental preparedness primer** here:
Start establishing your self-discipline.
Yo take it from me, a college junior who’s still building her study habits: it makes your life A WHOLE LOT easier if you discipline yourself to stick to your commitments.
I’m gonna be honest here. Building your self-discipline won’t be easy. Even now, I’m still struggling with disciplining myself. But I’ve come a long way from that college freshman who gets easily tempted by YouTube videos and ends up not studying.
*correct me if I’m wrong tho. I only knew about these because of all the llama-wailing happening in teen blogs and in Twitter.
**Ha, “primer.” Don’t you just looove using big words, Kate
More ways to mentally prepare yourself:
+ Start building a study habit at the first few weeks of school. It helps in the long-run and would avoid you to rely on the Cramming Gods™. (Again, this is something I only started applying this semester.)
My fellow ex-crammer college buddy fell ill a few days before our exams week. And she shared how relieved she was that she started dividing her study time in chunks over the past couple of weeks in case of unexpected things like getting sick.
+ Regularly review your finished topics (in my case, I do it every weekend)
+ You don’t have to study more, just study smart. Know the subject. Does it have more concepts? Will you need to answer problems? (for me, I read situational examples for Law and practice answering problems for Accounting)
Basically, don’t cram it in. I don’t force myself to read every hour of every day because I can’t do that. I’m not wired to do that. If I do that and force my brain to read on something for hours on end, it implodes.
Instead, I would make myself commit to achieving at least three things over the weekend. Remember the self-discipline primer I mentioned above? This is where that comes in.
My favorite mental preparedness resources: For self-discipline, there’s this monologue by Marcus Aurelius I found through College Info Geek that’s definitely worth checking out.
Also, I found this delightful How-To on Pinterest. I like how No-BS the tips are. Because, personally, I kinda gave up on the cutesy fluffy study tips typically found on YouTube and Pinterest. I mean, cool, maybe they work for others. But those never work for me. This one does. Plus, its actionable-ness really appealed to me. You can check the image here.
Okay, listen up. Because this is where my kinda expertise lie. Much as exams week can be really stressful — and there’s no arguing its stressfulness — that does not mean you should forego looking after your physical health. Exact opposite! This is the time when you should look after it like a fragile baby.
I mean, who ever told you that your health is like a sacrificial steak you burn to please the Olympian gods??? They’re not! Percy Jackson didn’t teach us that! (whoa so anger-y)
Here are two common ways students are sacrificing their physical health for exams:
>>Not getting enough sleep. I honestly don’t get where we get that “sleep is for the weak” culture. It’s a bunch of rotten bananas. Sleep is important. Especially in crucial times when you need to stay focused like, uh, in a freakin exam??? And it’s been backed by a HELL tons of research.
You know what Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Arianna Huffington have in common? (You know, other than the fact that they founded some of the biggest websites online and are super successful and rich)
They have adequate hours of (guess what?) S L E E P.
Forget “sleep is for the weak.” Get Sleep for Exams Week!
“But Kate, I am a night owl. My brain functions better at night!” Pssh. Easy fix: Go to bed at 4PM, set your alarm at 10PM and start your witching hour study ritual. Viola! You get 6 hours of sleep in your body and you get to study.
>>Relying on junk foods for your three meals a day. Bro, please no. No amount of Happy Meals or potato chips can give your body the adequate nutrients it needs to survive the week.
<3 Eat carbs and proteins that give you energy to last you the week.
<3 Eat fruits and veggies that keep you healthy and away from sickness.
My mom likes to tell us, “You only have one body. Invest in it and take good care of it.” I mean, what other vessel will bring you to your exam room?
A metal can? The clouds?
Though those would be really cool, nope. It’s your body. So my dear friends, look after your body, mkay?
(also btw, we’re getting a lil’ deep in a few)
For a long time, I always thought I don’t need to emotionally prepare myself for exams week. I’ve always been able to tamp down my nervousness and the llama-wailing inside me. This semester was different, though.
The night before my first day of exams, I had a breakdown.
It wasn’t an instant thing. It was gradual. Everything piled up in the past few days. Toxic thoughts and trivial worries that I chose to ignore because “I don’t have time to deal with them. I still have to study.” I forgot what triggered the floodgates to open. But it did. I tried ignoring them but they were too much. They already accumulated in the past few days.
And I just broke down.
Thankfully, at one point, I just thought, “Okay Kate. This isn’t working. You’re not getting any study done if you keep this. They want to be addressed. So let’s address them.”
And so I did. I thought of all the toxic thoughts and worries I avoided in the last several days:
“Things are getting out of hand.”
“You’re not doing enough.”
“You are not enough.”
“Why are you still doing this?”
“You’re gonna fail anyway.”
Remembering my state of mind that night still make me feel miserable. But I got through it. And that’s something.
Here’s what I did during and after that crucial emotional part of my exams week:
<3 Listened to guided meditation. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to meditating but I like guided meditations. Specifically, listening to Chel Hamilton’s Meditation Minis podcast. Her voice is very relaxing.
That night, the first thing my hands did was open my podcast app and I listened to Episode 09. I didn’t think spending that precious 10 minutes was a waste at all. I’d rather spend 10 minutes regaining my emotional state than spend the next couple hours bumbling helplessly.
<3 Told myself that I’m going to be okay. I like telling myself, “Okay Kate. You can do this. You can DO this.” Remember in Frozen when Kristoff and Anna were about to jump off a cliff and Anna kept saying, “I can do this. I was BORN ready.”
It’s like that. This is my motivating mantra. And in a way, it boosts my morale.
<3 Gave myself time to relax. After that first day of exams, I decided that I won’t be spending the rest of my day studying for the next exams. I’d do it on the next day. Instead, I drew. I started writing the first draft of this post. I experimented in some graphic elements I made myself.
In a way, it was a sort of reward I gave myself. I got through my first day of exams. And I got through it with minimal scars. YAAY WHOOP WHOOP!
So whaddaya gotta do?? TREAT. YO. SELF.
My favorite emotional preparedness resource: This post written by Bea of Child of Cynicism a few months ago. I have a screenshot of it saved on my phone because I just knew I’ll need it. And I did 🙂
Do check out Bea’s awesome blog! She shares her views on the socio-cultural issues present in our society and they are absolutely thought-provoking and inspiring <3
Okay guys, one last thing: All the things I shared here? In one way or another, they interrelate. Taking care of yourself during exams week (or any week for that matter) involves a wholesome care routine that gives thought into your mental, physical, and emotional state.
And at the end of the day, remember what Bea said in her awesome post linked above.
You are more than any exams.
They are important, yes. But they’re not as important as your well-being. And if a sloppy potato like me can get past them, I have no doubt in my mind that an awesome peep like you can too 🙂
Your turn: How do you get through exams week? Will you be experiencing it soon? Do you have an exams week preparedness plan ready? Do you have a favorite podcast??? Do share them in the comments below! I’m a potato newbie to this and I’d love to hear your expertise! 😀
Happy Exams Week-conquering, awesome peeps! 💪
Note: I initially called exams week “Hell Week”, because that’s what we call it here. Apparently not in the west. So I decided to just edit the whole thing because I don’t want there to be any confusion or misunderstanding regarding the post. Cheerios! 🙂