'Keep calm and carry on!'

Lewis O'Neill's avatar

Lewis O'Neill

04 May 2018


It is that time of year again. Thousands of us are quickly scrambling to memorise quotes from a poem and trying to understand what the quadratic formula even does!

This may feel scary – but you aren’t alone. In fact, 124,000 of us are taking over 500,000 individual exams within this month. So, in a way, we’re all in this rocky, seemingly terrifying boat together.

At SYP, we want to make sure that you fulfil your potential when it comes to exams and so, have prepared a few tips on how you can cram effectively this month and stay sane in the process.



Tip 1 – Most of the hard work is already done.
Believe it or not, most of the information you need for these upcoming exams is probably already in your brain from a whole year of classwork. Let this assure you that ‘cramming’ should only be about getting that information fresh in your head.

This means that the most effective way to cram is to spend short 15-minute sessions revising your weakest elements of the course – this will help your brain retrieve a broader range of information, which is far more effective than spending hours at a time.

Tip 2 – Plan, plan and plan some more.
While cramming shouldn’t be too intensive, in order to use your time effectively you need to be able to plan your days appropriately – particularly if you are off on study leave. This could be in the form of a regimented timetable, but even a general to-do list for every day will suffice. Again, make sure your to-do list is very specific sub topics in the course which you struggle with, not just ‘Biology’.

Tip 3 – Get in that mindset – the finishing line is in sight.
Studying isn’t very effective when it is a chore. It is way better to feel motivated when studying. This can be done by setting a goal and fixating on it. It could be to get the grades for a particular uni course or to pass a particular subject.

Regardless of what it is, a goal will allow your brain to see the finishing line and the exam slog won’t be quite as painful. In order to keep that mindset, Aqeel Ahmed MSYP suggested to “Stay calm and relaxed when studying. Don’t stress too much. Take your time. Take deep breathes and work at your own pace.”

He further laments that “It’s really important that you study in a place where there are little distractions and noise such as in a library or a quiet room at home”.

Tip 4 – Try to stay calm
That idea about staying calm is imperative. Stress, while wholly natural, doesn’t make exam time any easier. Your priority should be to eliminate such stress and so, studying will be far more effective.

Maria Bisland, a survivor of the exam process from Glasgow, suggests to “always give yourself at least an hour of free time before you go to bed so you’re not rushing to do last minute studying and instead feel relaxed enough to get a good sleep which is essential during exam time.”