How to prepare for exam season

AFS Team·23 April 2018·7 min read
How to prepare for exam season

Prepare and plan

As soon as you are aware of when exam season will begin, get planning and preparing.

A great idea is to purchase some new stationery; it can be a real incentive to get working when you have new shiny stuff. Purchase some ring binder folders and a notepad for each module you will be studying, you can even label them or decorate them if you like. Next, give your laptop a sort out, manage the folders and make some revision folders especially for your notes. A great tip is to print off all of your lecture notes from the semester and make module booklets out of them; sometimes it’s much easier to follow your own notes instead of the ones from your tutor. Get hold of some highlighters, new pens and anything that you know will make revision more enjoyable!

Time manage

I always find that this is absolutely essential to having a good revision day: make your own timetable.

It’s always good to be strict with yourself during exam season. It’s such a short amount of time for such an important outcome that it really is vital to keep going, be organised and to really make the most out of your day. Make weekly timetables, factoring in breaks, food, exercise and free time and do your very best to stick to them. Planning out your week can bring a sense of normality and control to your life. Studies have also shown that writing down to do lists and timetables actually give you more determination to tick everything off of them.

Pick a start date

It can be tricky at times to really know when to start working. The best way to get around this is to pick a start date.

For example, if your last piece of coursework before exams is in on a Friday, have the weekend off, prepping and relaxing, before starting full steam ahead on Monday morning at 9am. Having a start date means that you can take appropriate and much needed rest before you feel the need to get going again.

Bring in the colour

Make your work colourful, exciting and enticing.

Mind maps can be a great way to get lots of information down quickly on paper, likewise, even just using different coloured pens can make your notes and revision more appealing and much easier to re-read. Essentially, just make your notes personal to you.

Morning or evening

The best way to work is to either do the main bulk of your work in the morning or in the evening, depending on what suits you best. Studies have shown that our body temperature rises and the falls throughout the day, along with brain activity and just general alertness. Therefore, it is recommended to get up early and get working. However, if you do cope better in the evening, or if your days are rather busy, then stick to what is comfortable for you and work at night. Whichever way you chose, getting all your revision done in one half of the day leaves the other half free so is always a good idea.


Morning yoga or meditation can be a great way to get your body and mind moving. You can follow some simple YouTube yoga videos to get started. Putting aside just twenty minutes of your day for a quick run, work out, yoga or even some meditation is great for getting your mind in a brilliant work set early in the morning. It also releases endorphins and these make you feel good.

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is paramount to a healthy happy exam season. Eating three good meals a day, drinking lots of water, taking vitamins and getting enough fruit and vegetables are the best things that you can do for your body in this difficult time. Likewise, on exam day, a good breakfast will get you through the day and stop those mid exam hunger pangs which are rather annoying. Porridge, made with milk, a milk substitute or even water can be delicious, especially topped with fruit such as bananas for potassium and brain function, cinnamon for a healthy gut and strawberries for vitamin C- get creative!

Office hours and email

If your tutor has any office hours left, then make the most of them. Head along to discuss anything that you might be struggling with or that you just need some help and advice on. If you have decided to do your revision away from university, then you can always email your tutor.

Cue cards

Grab yourself a pack of lined cue cards from your nearest supermarket and get making some main pointers, facts, dates, names- any information that you need to confine to your head FAST!
Make them colourful and highlight away, cue cards are all about being able to learn and memorise information, if this is displayed in bright colours or images, you will be able to take it all in quicker!

Look through old exam papers

Source yourself some past papers and do them over and over again until you have completely nailed the structure and you know exactly what type of exam you will receive on the day. Make sure that you are aware of every feature of the test apart from the question. Familiarise yourself with the layout, time limit, number of questions and general approach, it will be much easier to get working this way when the paper is placed in front of you on exam day.

Make sure that you reward yourself

It’s important to reward yourself, after a long day of revision or a stressful exam, take some time for yourself. Whether it’s seeing friends, having a meal, running a bath or watching a movie, relax- it’s important.

Make sure that you take breaks

In a similar thread to rewarding yourself, make sure that you take regular breaks throughout your work day to ensure that you stay alert and focused. Working for hours on end means that information ceases to really go into your brain anymore.

How to handle the actual exam

  • Be prepared; bring the correct pens, clear water bottle and leave your phone at home.
  • Always take your time when reading the questions and make sure that you know exactly what the question is asking of you.
  • Plan your time and be aware of how long you have for each question, this way you can ensure that you are not rushing at the end.
  • Once the exam is finished, FORGET ABOUT IT. Move on and just wait for results day, be safe in the knowledge that you did your best.

Good luck!