Kick starting your year with over a dozen textbooks, about 20 jotters, 5 highlighters and possibly a notepad at hand? Exams are the most dreaded part about school. First there's the ever impending thoughts which hang around at the back of your mind, telling you about how, in 5 months time, your going to wish you really listened to your French teacher about those irregular verbs as you suddenly find yourself crash-coursing a year's worth of notes. Then there's the moments just before the exams when you aren't sure if the rest of the hall can hear your heart beating. After the exam, you get that massive weight lifted off your shoulders, only to be replaced by the stress and anticipation of your results.
At leat that's what my dictionary defined 'exams' as...
So I set out to find out survival strategies.
Before you start, ask yourself, how are you really doing in all your subjects? Once you know what your struggling with, start from there. You need to understand that revision can coinside with your normal life (no, really!), whether it's Netflix or that party this weekend, you need some time to relax. Trust me - I learned that the hard way! Just remember to keep yourself motivated and reward yourself from time to time.
Also, don't put it off 'till the last minute, if you're staying up the night before the exam, skimming over the notes you know you should've learned months ago, remember sleep is just as important as the notes. You might need more sleep than the average adult (which is 8 hours), being a teen and all gets pretty exhausting. Sleep has been proven to have an effect on concentration- think of it like charging your phone, sleep is how your body recharges itself, if you try and survive on 15% every day, you're going to run out of energy pretty quickly. Your brain uses 20% of the energy your body produces, so if you want to find out how much sleep you need, go to sleep at 11 on the weekend, and see what time you naturally wake up at, do this a few times and see roughly how many hours you usually sleep for. If you find it hard to sleep at night, here are some ways to help:
Switch off your phone! I hate to break it to you, but unless your phone has a night-time backlight mode, you're going to have to switch it off to sleep better. The blue or white light-waves your tablets and phones emit actually mess a bit with your body clock.
Stay away from the caffine! I know this seems pretty obvious, but caffine (or a big meal/alcohol) don't help you at all when it comes to sleeping. Sorry. Have a light snack or a milky drink to ease you into a deep sleep.
Avoid any excersise which raises your heart beat, try stretching, meditating or reading if your looking for a night time activity.
Try a nice bath, with lavender oil and soft music. That helps too!
Now you've had a good night's sleep, your brain also needs fed. Water is a must before you try any special diets or 'clean eating'.
Avoid things with added sugar, fizzy drinks and processed foods. If you're trying to aviod chocolate as well, cheese or yoghurts are great replacements to tide you over. Ensure you don't feel peckish or starving throughout the day - that is a definite telltale sign you aren't eating enough. If you feel hungy and have not drank any water in a while, before tucking into a 3 course meal, drink some water. This could actually be your body's way of letting you know it's thirsty.
I could go on for much longer, regurgitating books and books of exam survival, but I settled with one final topic to talk about (at least for today). Stress.
Stress is natural! It's our body's response to challenges, producing chemicals such as adrenaline, to give our blood a push to our head. Stress can become more persistent, so the chemicals are always there as they do't have a normal release, in a sense. This can cause panic instead of activity and that isn't helpful.
Regular headaches, negative thoughts, clumsiness, feeling overwhelmed and being very irratable and hot headed may just be you being a teenager, we've all been there. But it can also be stress.
Try tackling stress by concentrating on your breathing or counting to ten. People are different - remember that. Not all people display their stress like others, I tend to bottle mine up. But that doesn't mean you're alone in this stressful, muddled up time. So find a hobby, switch off your phone, read (reading daily is linked to better exam results) or spend some time with your friends (or have some 'me-time'!). Just find a way which helps you.