Saturday, 29 November 2014

Exam Stress

It is a big year for me as I have my GCSEs coming up so this can mean that I have several exams in one week. This is normally just coursework but some of them are incredibly testing and can make me want to just lie on my bed and scream. Next week I have mock exams so I have 11 exams in four days (this is nothing compared to my 23 in May/June) so I have had to have been doing a lot of revision. I'm not great at revision because, unless I get really into it, I find it almost impossible to focus. This then normally means that I don't revise and as the exams approach I end up having a number of anxiety attacks and there are a lot of tears. 

Don't feel sorry for me - it's my own fault.

But my short attention span is going to have to be changed as it isn't really an excuse. The examiners don't care. So this time I have been doing my revision differently and I am going to share what I have done.

Know what you want to do

Every day you should wake up and have a plan. An exam timetable would be very useful here but I understand that not everything can always go to plan. As long as you make a list each day of the subjects that you need to cover I can't imagine many things will go wrong. As long as you actually do it. It is very easy for someone to say "Oh I will do it later" or "But I have to do this..." If it doesn't have to be done right then wait and do it later. Do those subjects to the extent that you feel necessary/that you are able to do.


If you are brilliant at French but you are struggling in Biology then put down those verbs and pick up that cell revision pack. I know that when you are good at a subject and you enjoy it you will feel inclined to spend more time on that; however you are probably going to get a decent grade on that test anyway and it is a bit pointless to waste your time on something that you are good at. Even if you HATE biology if you revise that topic well enough you will probably not have to cover it again or spend less time on it. That means you could spend more time doing the things that you enjoy instead of drawing root hair cell diagrams. 

Past Papers and Examiners Reports are a gift

Find out your exam board and use their past papers until you run out. This way you are able to see the type of questions that have come up before and you can practice your technique. The best way to do these questions are to:

  1. Get the exam paper up and look at the question. If you have no idea what to do revise the topic (MyMaths is ideal for this). If you have some idea try and answer it. Answer all the sub-questions (so 1a. 1b. 1c (i) and so on) 
  2. Then when the question has finished mark it with the mark scheme and every question (regardless if you got it right or not) read the Examiners Report. This is when the Head Examiner gets all the examiners together and the discuss the common mistakes and whether a question was too hard. It lets you see if you are making common and silly mistakes. It also lets you see if it was a higher demand question and whether the people who get similar grades to you got that question right. I love these things.
  3. Repeat with every question. It's going to take a while but you will learn how to correct your mistakes and it will hopefully help you in the exam its self.

Do not work for more than a solid two hours and this is when your revision will stop being as effective. After every 1:30-2 hours take a half hour break and watch TV or talk to your friends or go for a walk. Staying cooped up with just revision is likely to make you just feel sad and then you are less likely to revise effectively. 

If your family are going out and you have revised enough don't be afraid to go with them. If it is a day trip take some revision cards with you so when you're stuck in a queue or something you can whip them out and test yourself. Or you could even download an app on your phone and test yourself in a more interesting way. 

Please remember 

Exam stress is hard and it can cause even the most calm and collected people to freak out. If I am stressed I will get terrible migraines that feel like someone is trampling all over my head so managing stress is key for that to not happen. However, if something has happened or anxiety and stress is making it impossible for you to revise go and see someone. Don't let revision for GCSEs, A Levels or any exam make you feel depressed. It's not worth it. There is more to life than exams - that's not to say they aren't important but your health is more important and if you really do feel down and maybe even suicidal you must talk to someone. A friend, a doctor, a teacher, your parents, me - I DO NOT MIND JUST PLEASE DON'T HURT YOURSELF. You don't have to let your exam results decide your future. 

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