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5 ways to stay motivated during exam season

Guest blog by Catherine Knock

After the first exams are done and dusted, it’s easy to lose a bit of motivation. And it doesn’t help that exam stress makes us feel tired too. Over the years, I’ve found a few tricks that keep me going through exam season. 

When you feel like they’re dragging on, try these 5 tips to power through your exams.

  1. Change your scenery.
  2. Take breaks to avoid burnout.
  3. Count down the days.
  4. Plan something to look forward to.
  5. Don’t worry about being perfect.

1. Change your scenery.

Switching where you study can be a fun way to shake up your revision routine. Why not treat yourself and your laptop to a day out at your favourite coffee shop? Saturday or Sunday mornings are usually quiet times, even if you live in the city. You could also listen to a Youtube revision video while you’re on a sunny walk by the river or lying on a blanket in the park. And if you’ve been feeling lonely, study at a friend’s place. Whatever you decide– try something that feels new.

Find your new study spot.

2. Take breaks to avoid burnout.

If you’ve had a few late night and early morning cramming sessions, you might start to feel burnt out. When stress levels stay high for longer than they should, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. I’ve been there myself!

The best thing you can do to avoid burnout is to take regular breaks. Move your body around, eat a healthy snack. Do something that makes you feel good–like listening to your favourite music or watching a film. Just make sure you’re switching off. Tip: Get a Pomodoro APP on your phone. It tells you how long to study for, and when to take breaks. 

3. Count down the days.

It might sound too simple to work, but a countdown can be super motivating. If you haven’t already, get a calendar and circle the end of exams. Then tick off the days as you go. Even though it feels like it’s dragging on forever, you’ll see that the end is in sight–yay!

4. Plan something to look forward to.

A way to boost your motivation is to get some fun post-exam plans in your diary. It doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive – just something you’ll like doing. Maybe that’s spending a day at Thorpe Park or just hanging out with your friends. Whatever you go for, make sure you find a way to celebrate the end of exams– you deserve it!

5. Don’t worry about being perfect.

Sometimes, we put too much pressure on ourselves–I’m guilty of this myself. But if you’re feeling tired and bored of exams at this point– it’s OK. In fact, it’s normal. Take slow steps if you don’t feel like revising. Start off with flashcards to warm up and work your way back up to practice exam questions.

Wherever you are in your exam season journey, remember that it will end eventually. I learned that the most important thing is to keep one foot in front of the other. And if I’m not feeling motivated, it’s not the end of the world. Instead of feeling guilty, I try to remember that exams are hard–and I’m doing my best.  

Catherine Nock studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge. She graduated in 2019, and has been tutoring English and French.

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