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Posted by Lara M under General  on Jun 11 2015


Exams can be a stressful time. Most of that stress is unfortunately pressure we put on ourselves! Here’s a list of things to help you get through this period. You know these things. You’ve been told them before. They’re common sense. Anyway, hopefully this refresher gives you some time to take some deep breaths and put everything in to perspective.


The best way to be prepared for exams is to be organised. Write a plan before you start so you know exactly how much revision time to allocate to each exam. Then break down each exam in to a set plan, depending on the course. It may look something like this, spread out over a couple of days (don’t try to achieve this in one day people!):

  1. Read any notes or comments your lecturer has given you on how the exam will be structured and what broad topics will be included. Know before you go in the exam how you will allocate your time in the exam and what key concepts will be covered. What weighting are the questions?
  2. Listen to any lectures that you’ve missed online and take notes.
  3. Re-visit each week of the course. Re-read notes and lecture slides, week by week. Add to your notes, key points that became clearer later in the semester. If a concept isn’t clear, now is the time to research these areas further or contact your tutor or study group for clarification.
  4. Memorise any important formulas, key points, definitions or acronyms. Use a personal experience or reference to help you recall these easily if you can!
  5. Re-read assignments. Understand the concepts and address points your tutor has made.
  6. Undertake any practice exams given. Research concepts that are unfamiliar. Answer the practice exam questions out loud to someone else. This shows that you can explain concepts clearly and concisely and will give you confidence!
  7. From here you’re doing really well. Try to condense your notes even further if you have time so that you just have the key points/concepts to revise on the night before and the morning of your exam.
  8. You’ve got this!


You may not think you have time for exercise (there’s not enough hours in the day as it is!) but it really is important to fit in at least 30 minutes a day (more if you can). It’s a natural stress and tension reliever, and will release endorphins meaning you can take a break from feeling overwhelmed and actually feel good about yourself. Because you’re awesome!

Food and Drink

Try to eat as well as possible. Eat three healthy meals and snack throughout the day – this will keep your brain working. Drink lots of water. Dehydration will just give you a headache and you’ll never understand calculus then!

Caffeine is necessary – in moderation. It is a student’s best friend. You know your limits though. You need enough to be awake, to focus. Not so much that you become jittery, can’t focus or dehydrated (headache!). Three to four cups should be about right but you know your limit. You know!

Relaxation and Sleep

Yep, it’s important. It’s going to be the first thing that you ditch when stressed. But taking ten minutes out of every hour to get up and move around, do some deep breathing and stretch your body will really help you last the distance. Concentration lags after one to two hours anyway so you’re not doing yourself any favours by pushing through (wait, I’m on Page 4 – what were pages 1-3?!).

As for sleep – we all know what happens when we’re sleep deprived. We’re emotional, eat the wrong things and stress more. Everything you don’t need right now! Try to get seven hours to give yourself the best start for each day ahead.

Still Stressed/Anxious/Not Coping?

Your University or TAFE has great resources. Visit your counselling centre or give them a call. They deal with this all of the time. You’re not alone.


Know where the exam is and what time. Aim to get there 30 minutes earlier than you need to so you’re not rushed or stressed. Avoid other university or TAFE students as they’ll only stress you out – stand alone and calmly go through the concepts in your head.

Make sure you have water, pens and pencils and anything extra that the university has allowed ie dictionary, calculator, notes.

Once you’re in your seat, try to relax. Take some deep breaths. You’ve made it! In a few hours, it will all be over.

Use the time allocated to read the questions thoroughly. Work out how much time you have to answer each question based on how much it’s worth. Questions that are a greater percentage of your final mark should have more time allocated to them.

Answer the questions you are confident about first! You don’t need to work through questions in order. By starting with something you’re sure about, you’ll get your rhythm and build your confidence.

Answer every question. Even if it’s just a few dot points of what you can recall. You’ll likely get some points, so put it down.

Finish up and take a deep breath! You did it, And survived. Well done! Call a friend, your parents, someone. Share your moment of glory! Celebrate with a beer, a burger, a cupcake (or all three)! Why not use a PokitPal discount and save some $$ too?!

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