The mere utterance of the word ‘Exams’, can often cause people to break out in a cold sweat. Whether it’s now or 10years ago, the concept of exams is often associated with a fight – flight – freeze response of some sorts. The pressure which is exerted, whether verbally or through association can often cause young people to panic before the exams are even here. Whether it is about the exam itself, finding motivation or the fear of failure, many young people struggle with the impending timetable. Whilst some stress is motivational (it shows us that our exams matter to us) we can reduce the unnecessary stress by taking control early on and being prepared.
For parents, the exam season can be just as difficult. You want the best for your children and the best opportunities. However keeping home life peaceful and planning opportunities for time out, as well as offering a quiet space where they can revise without distraction can make the whole home more peaceful.
So I’ve collated my FIVE tips for revision to make home and study a little more peaceful and under control:
#1 – Change the dialogue
Whilst we know that exams have their role, and open up opportunities. If we focus on the consequences we continually activate the amygdala in the brain which tells us ‘we are not safe’. Which means our blood runs to our limbs and away from where we need it. Encouragement with support, connection and relaxation creates an environment where we can relax and absorb, retain and consolidate information.
#2 – Revise in different ways
When you plan your revision plan a range of different types of revision, just reading notes will slowly drive you crazy and does not allow you to see that you have taken it in. You can make mind-maps, make key note cards, practice quizzes or exam questions, read your notes or text book or test a friend
#3 – Factor everything into your planner
When you create your plan factor in all things that are necessary – include; breaks, meal times, fun things, exercise, commitments, study groups, days off. You can colour code subjects to make your plan more visual. 24/7 revision is not effective and if we balance it with rewards and downtime, we are going to have longevity rather than burning ourselves out too soon.
#4 – Take time off
Whilst it can feel like revising all the time will help it actually has the opposite affect. Our brain learns in patterns. By working in shorter spells and coming back to information so you need to recall it your brain strengthens the patterns. Recalling information a few times with breaks in between would allow you to learn faster than just staring at the notes for 6 hours. Working smarter rather than harder really does help revision! Therefore taking time OFF is important to allow the brain to rest then you can come back and recall the information later to consolidate it. For instance, revise one topic for an hour – take a break – then come back to it and see how much you recall and strengthen the gaps.
#5 – Sleep
Sleep allows our body to rest, refresh and restore itself. A lack of sleep can make us feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious as our body feels under threat. Therefore ensuring that you stop revising at least 2 hours before bedtime and getting at least 8 hours sleep is a great way to ensure that your brain can revise more effectively and you feel in control.
Whilst you are asleep your brain also consolidates the learning that you have done. The brain is able to process the new data and patterns and sort everything through, so when your parents say ‘it will feel better after a good nights sleep’ – they are right!
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