Final year exams survival guide

Posted October 13, 2011, by Darryn King

Every year, Year 12 students around Australia sit their final year exams. Here are some tips, not for studying, but for coping with all the other baggage that exam time brings.

Feed your brain

Be especially careful choosing what to eat before an exam. Fuelling yourself with sugar and caffeine may sound like a good idea, until you come down from your high halfway through the exam and are suddenly unable to concentrate.

Likewise, it's probably not a good idea to gorge yourself prior to entering the exam room – chances are you'll feel bloated and a little bit sleepy. Instead, keep yourself well fed with regular, balanced meals and healthy snacks. Don't forget your bottle of water – especially to keep away those nasty headaches.

And don't ever, EVER skip breakfast.

Get physical

Another important part of keeping healthy is to make sure you don't coop yourself up indoors all day. Even if you have a lot of studying to do, occasional physical exercise – even if it is just going for a walk outside every now and then – is a good way to unwind and quite necessary to keep sane. Getting some sunlight (and some Vitamin D) is important for your health and wellbeing too.

Hermit or social animal?

So, should you stop taking calls, delete your Internet messaging programs and shut yourself off from your friends? Or should you keep in contact to alleviate the boredom and keep in touch with reality? If you're on top of your studies, you might find yourself with more free time than you were anticipating. Everyone's different, so you'll have to find a healthy balance between socialising and study that works for you. It's also important to not immediately throw your nose back on the grindstone after a big exam – reward yourself with some time off!

Rest and relaxation

The typical Year 12 student should be getting around eight hours' sleep a night. You need to walk into that exam room feeling rested and awake, not exhausted and worn out. Pulling all-nighters and staying awake for 31 hours is not the way to go about it. Also, make sure you go to bed at a reasonable hour – disrupting your sleep cycle or messing with your circadian rhythms will be bad news for your powers of concentration.

You basically need to know when enough is enough. Take breaks and some time to relax – though be wary of the brain-numbing powers of television! Try reading a book or listening to music instead.

It's not the end of the world

Calm down! It's not the end of the world, even if you don't get the marks you planned for. If you're freaking out too much over the exams, chances are you'll be stressed out in the exam room, which is anything but productive.

Darryn King

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