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Fighting the Exam Period

20/01/2020

It’s 11:30pm and I finally sit down to write this column which has been in my ‘To Do list’ for a while now. It’s exam time and being engineering students we all know how easily we become victims of procrastination. However, the night before the exam, after chugging 5 cups of coffee, everything suddenly makes sense (or not). Next morning, we go to the exam hall wishing to have started earlier and cursing ourselves for not having done things at the right time but oh well, guess it’s too late now (fingers crossed).

During exam time I get pretty stressed, anxiety takes over me and I am restless. Being someone who is a little hyper in general, the restlessness during exam period makes it even harder to sit down and focus. However, over the years I have used some ‘techniques’ to help me tackle these weeks of constant stress and I would like to share them with you.

  1. Have a schedule: I struggle with this because I keep procrastinating to sit down and make a schedule. However, once I do it, it gives me a good overview of what I need to do, how much time I have and gets me to working. Typically, I make a sort of calendar and distribute all the topics I need to do into the available days. I leave some buffer time of course and take into consideration the extracurricular activities that take up parts of the day. Those who keep such a schedule know the joy of crossing out an item once it’s done.
  2. Do sports: To many people doing sports during an exam period seems like a waste of time but that morning run that I take before heading to the library keeps me awake and energized. It is often also a way that I use to let go of frustration and relax a little. You don’t need to work out for long, but some physical exercise definitely helps our brain activity.
  3. Avoid distractions: We are constantly surrounded by distractions - the primary one being our phones. I fight my phone by turning off its internet while studying so that no notifications distract me. Although my friends might hate me for not answering them and them having to look for me in the highly crammed library, this one really helps me stay focused. There are also various apps which help in focussing. So, you could use your phone to help you not use your phone?
  4. Schedule breaks: When we are stressed, we often just want to sit in one go and do everything. This may work for some but if you are someone whose focus span is short, schedule in breaks. When I study, I tell myself (and my friends so that they check on me) that I am going to study for an hour and then take a 15-minute break, followed by studying for another 45 minutes etc…etc…This ensures that in the time that I study I am fully focussed and don’t take 1-2 minute ‘unnecessary stress breaks’ in between. Additionally, it makes sure that my ‘short’ break does not end up being longer than my study period.
  5. Breaks: After sitting down for an hour or more, our bodies need some movement and change of surroundings. Take a 15-minute walk, stretch yourself, go visit a friend sitting at the other end of the library. Whatever it may be, just get up and move a little!
  6. Change of environment: I am someone who gets tired of places quite easily. More than tired, I get too comfortable in the environment I am in and then studying there doesn’t really work anymore. What I like to do is hop around buildings on campus (even within 1 day) and that refreshes me. So, in the morning I may be studying at MetaForum but in the afternoon you may spot me at Atlas. May work for you too!
  7. Don’t just study: Having nothing else but studying planned for the whole day makes me less productive. Knowing that I must be at Place A at 4pm makes me more productive till then because then I wouldn’t say “Oh I have the whole day anyway”. Because saying that gives me this unrealistic, overly exaggerated feeling of the amount of time I have until the end of the day when I realise ‘Oops!! The day is over…’ and all I have done is say ‘No’ to plans and procrastinate! Make plans (short ones of course), schedule them in and see how that increases your productivity.
  8. Stay healthy: As hard as it may sound, we all know how sufficient sleep, good food and water are crucial to tackle this season! No more explanations, but try your best to drink, eat and sleep enough.

You may be reading this article as one of your ‘short’ breaks and I hope it has helped you a little. These are some ‘tricks’ I use to fight this tough period and they may work for you too. They aren’t a universal code that works for all so see what suits you and make your own set of techniques.

Most importantly, realise that what really counts is that you have tried your level best for every assessment you take and regardless of whether you score a 10 or a 3, it is the hard work that should give you satisfaction. If it doesn’t work out this time, hopefully you learn how you can do better next time. And as cliché as it sounds, keep fighting against the past you and no one else.

Thanks for reading, now let’s get back to studying. Good Luck!

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