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Exam Season: How to beat the nerves and look after you during this time

Exam season is upon us so we’ve pulled together some top tips and advice to support you during this time.

Beds SU

By Beds SU

Thursday, 13 January 2022

It’s January, so you know what that means! Leftover Christmas chocolate for breakfast, signing up for a gym membership you’ll never use and, of course, exams.

Exam season is tough in a normal year, but exams and a pandemic? That’s really tough. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of some of the things you can do to help you through exams compiled from our own experience of managing with exam stress, researching popular techniques and highlighting services available for you here at the university.

1. Take Breaks

  •  Revising non-stop all day is no good for your brain. Make sure you schedule regular breaks when you’re working, to give your brain time to absorb what you’ve just taught it.  
  •  Some people like to use the Pomodoro Technique, which is where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles, you take a longer break (usually 30-45 minutes).  

2. Don’t Forget to Eat

  • Ah, breakfast, the most important meal of the day! Scientists have done loads of research into the science of breakfast, and they generally agree that having something to eat in the morning increases your memory and attention span throughout the day.  
  • Everyone’s bodies are different, though, so if you can’t stomach a full cooked breakfast at 8am, have a breakfast bar or piece of fruit. Something small to give your brain some fuel will go a long way.  

3. Reach Out

  •  If you’re struggling, don’t suffer in silence. Lots of people get really stressed about exams, so you’re not alone if this all feels a bit much. Keep in touch with friends and family! Sometimes, a quick coffee with a friend can make a huge difference to your stress levels. 
  •  University of Bedfordshire University’s Mental Health Service is available if you need more support with your mental health and wellbeing. 
  • You can also reach out to our team of specialist advisors who will do their best to offer support or direct you to someone who can email or visit the website. 

4. Get Some Fresh Air

  •  If you hit a revision wall, where you just can’t do any more, change up your environment. If you can go outside to get some deep breaths of fresh air, that’s a great way to get a change of scenery. If you can’t, then open a window and breathe in that cold January air.  
  •  This is a great time to do a breathing exercise to help reduce stress. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, then breathe out for six seconds. Repeat this as many times as you need!  

5. Go to Sleep

  • Sleep is so important. When you’re asleep, your brain saves all the important things from your day to your memory, which is what you’ll need in an exam. If you’re struggling to sleep, even just lying there and resting is better for your brain than no rest at all.  
  • While it’s tempting to stay up until the early hours revising, that’s actually worse for your chances of exam success than getting a good night’s sleep.  

There are a range of options available if you need more support, which are outlined here. Remember, always be kind to yourself. You’re doing university exams during a pandemic, that’s a huge achievement by itself.