• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Top tips for the exam period from fourth year students

ByCharles Nurick

May 12, 2017

Exams are on their way. Much like the apocalypse, you were warned this day would come. Unlike the apocalypse, there is no chance of meeting your favourite celebrities in heaven – or hell. You’ll wake up the next day and curse that you didn’t spend less time on Netflix, and more time revising. It is an inevitable part of the curriculum. So how does one maximise their revision capabilities and cope with exam stress? Here are mine – and a few friends’ – tips on just that.

Actually go to the library

Yes, yes, this sounds like a cliche but it’s really not so bad anymore. Things aren’t like they seem in high school teen dramas. Going to the library because you actually want to pass your exams isn’t some great social faux pas. No one’s going to shout ‘nerd’ and throw a smoothie over you. It’s actually quite liberating to get out of the flat and make a day of it. Just don’t be that dick that reserves a desk for their mates.

Join the gym

My mum always used to say, ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. Then again, she also tried to convince me that she was the original fifth Teletubby. Regardless, the former is never more apt than during revision season, and hitting the gym is a great break from studying, whilst also releasing some pent-up frustration and perfecting that summer bod.

Ask others

University is full of people; some of who have common sense and a reasonable amount of knowledge. Speak to people you know and see if they have any advice. You might find that their methods are actually quite good. More useful than what I’m offering anyway.

Do something wild

Ok, not too wild. Like, don’t adopt a child or anything. But do something you wouldn’t normally do. Shave your head. Try a new coffee shop. Turn left instead of right when you go into Tesco. Ask someone out. Whatever it is that will spice up your life and break up the monotony of reading page after page after page after page…

Go on Tinder

Do you know what’s even more soul-destroying than finding out that you remember absolutely nothing from your first semester economics course? Finding out that no one in a 17 mile radius finds you attractive. It’ll certainly keep the exam stress down, though it might not help your self-esteem.

Keep calm

Again, this might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people work themselves into a state at the mere thought of exams. Break revision down into manageable chunks, setting yourself realistic goals and rewarding yourself when appropriate: that cheeky Netflix episode at lunchtime isn’t so cheeky when you’ve been revising all morning. It might not seem like much but it makes a real difference. Plus, it gives you a chance to use those snazzy highlighters you got for your birthday.

Use past papers

I legitimately cannot stress this enough. Since high school, past papers have been a lifesaver for me, and university is no different. Examiners have certain styles of questions they favour, and patterns can easily be spotted. If they’ve asked a question on the factors behind the War of 1812 for the last four years, chances are they’ll ask it again. Narrowing your topics for revision allows more in-depth knowledge and makes the task that little bit more manageable.


This might seem slightly counterproductive and hypocritical, but bear with me. Sometimes when everything seems impossible and the world is ready to eat you up, slowly digest you, and spit you back out, it’s ok to cry, or moan, or just sit and watch TV. If you need a day to freak out about how behind you are then do, then move on, and start afresh tomorrow. No point trying to force yourself to learn.

By Charles Nurick

Fourth year History student. A lover of sports, gin, and long, hot baths A disliker of slow walkers, clingfilm, and umbrellas.

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