Hacks That'll Help You Survive Exams

Yeah, yeah – everyone you’ve told about how incredibly nervous you are about your exams is getting really bored of it. You’ve been giving that excuse for way too long. Get up and get organized! I’m here to help.

Here are some simple tips for you, student, to get you through your examination stress. Full disclosure – every single statistic in this article is made up, even if otherwise mentioned. But, so what?

1. Actually Study while Studying: 79% of students admit that the hardest part of studying is self-discipline. It’s true – too many things need your attention, and your attention wants a lot of things too. Like Facebook, YouTube, your girlfriend/boyfriend, food.

Here’s the tip: stop guilt-tripping, and allow yourself time for randomness. If you really want to watch a few YouTube videos, then just do it. Give yourself 30 minutes to do nothing at all, and promise yourself that after that, you’re back to work. Having guilt-free chill time is key to actually getting work done when you (finally) get to work.

VP Schedule
2. Efficiency, Efficiency: Students have a morbid fascination with hours-of-work that they’ve put in.

How much did you study man?

Man, I was up all night. I was in the library for, like, 16 hours.

That’s amazing, man.

No, it’s not. What matters is how much you get done, not how much time you spent. You need content targets, not time targets. Deliberately tell yourself that you’ll do two chapters in this sitting, whether it takes 10 minutes or 10 hours. (And while you’re at it, stop discussing how much other people have worked, it’s really pointless.)

16 hours in the library? Sounds refreshing!

3. You Wake Yourself Up: Every smart phone has two apps that work magic together – an alarm clock, and a sound recorder. When you’re in high spirits, give your future, sleeping self a pep-talk. You might need some berating:

Wake up, you worthless, procrastinating, dumb door knob! It’s time to study! Get up!

or just friendly, wholesome, inspiration:

There may be a day when you put me on snooze, and sleep till it’s too late, sleep till you waste the whole day away. Yes, there may be such a day. BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.

Whatever your morning potion, hearing your own voice wake you up works for 97.3% students. (Recording mom’s voice works for 102% – use your imagination.)

alarm you success

4. Don’t Be Terrorized By Others’ Routines: A routine that you didn’t create yourself is a big, big mistake. The biggest mistake is reading Steve Jobs’ autobiography and adopting his lifestyle. Jobs created a lifestyle that suited him, not you. Think carefully about what your ideal, productive day would be, and then create a schedule around it. Don’t worry about conventions and best-practices. As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter whether your jog (or revision) is at 7 am or 7 pm. This is not to say you should give in to bad habits: it’s possible that you get your best work done in the morning, but you just refuse to wake up because of stress. In that case, you need point 3, and a routine that allows for morning studying. [There is a school of thought that’s worth mentioning which involves masochism and military regimen. You can try that, but I hate it; it also doesn’t work for over 60% students.]


5. Last-Minute Revisions Are Awesome: When I’m walking to the exam hall, or in the bus, or in the toilet that morning – my brain is on super-absorb mode. And I make the most of it. Throughout my studying time, I use Evernote to write down formulae, important dates, facts, concepts, mind maps etc. And on the morning of the exam, I read all of it. 73% students claim that they gain at least 5 marks from just what they read that morning. I’ve benefited 100% of the time. Even better, having it on Evernote means you can refer to it months after the exams, so your knowledge is cataloged and ready to peruse at a later stage too. [If you’re literally running to an exam hall, this device can help you read while on the run.]

last minute revision

6. Get Some Perspective: Perspective is the one thing they should be selling at Fairprice, but they somehow forgot. One exam is exactly that – just one exam. Nomatter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise, truth is that one exam just does not matter in the grand scheme of things. If you don’t do too well, lo and behold, you have another sob story to tell! So, stop fretting, it’s not a big deal. Life will go on.


Good luck! May the odds be ever in your favor.


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