I WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
Phew!! I made it to the end of term one, I couldn't be more pleased.
After relocating, making new friends, finding a new job and getting used to a new schedule I couldn't be happier to welcome a new year. All of the changes I have mentioned are certainly positive but just like anything that is worth doing, it hasn't been easy by any means.
I CANNOT WAIT to go home and see my family. I feel I've lived three different lifetimes since I last saw them all. Time is flying by so quickly and as each week has fallen off the calendar I have slowly started to become a different person. Essay by essay, reading by reading, week by week. I didn't realise quite how much information I'd retained and how much my studies have already begun changing the way I look at the world. Final exams this week made that very clear to me. As I walked away from my last philosophy lecture, the exam anxiety set in and my old foe, panic, began to sweep over me and the dreaded 'OH NO I HAVE TO DO AN EXAM' realisation set in.
It hasn't been that long since I've endured the stresses that come with exams. Despite the fact that my attention span is practically non-existent after about an hour, I managed to get through my last one's in the summer of this year without a fuss. Well…A few tears but relatively fuss free. So, how bad could it be, right? I didn’t have a plan, nor did I have any conscientious ideas on the way to approach the last week of term. I can’t advise anybody not to panic on the run-up to exams, after all, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to this!
I can let you know how I got through mine though.
1. Rest-up. Firstly, in order to help myself out on the attention front, I made it my business to get plenty of sleep. If you don’t get a couple of good nights’ sleep before sitting a three-hour exam, I wish you the best of luck. This won’t ‘solve’ all of your problems, granted, but it will enable you to clear your head and get a handle on what is required of you.
2. Go week-by-week. I went back through my course reader and picked out the subjects that I knew I didn’t really pay much attention to at the time of teaching. Depending on how your course is set out, will depend on whether you can take this approach or not. We have a different topic and relevant readings to said topic each week. We get one seminar and one lecture on each subject. This makes it so much easier when returning to your subjects for revision at a later date. The structure is already set out for us. You can break it up into separate areas and then your subject, as a whole, doesn’t seem so daunting. Nobody wants to look at their books thinking, really, I need to know ALL of that?! It can be difficult if you are studying an interdisciplinary degree like me.
3. Divide and conquer. Our humanities courses at Brighton University are split into disciplines. Term one gave us ‘philosophy’ and ‘history’ and our second term will give us ‘culture’ and ‘democracy’. Consistently splitting your time between more than one discipline can be difficult and I sometimes struggle to apply myself evenly to both areas of study. Again, relating to my previous point, divide your revision into sections and give yourself an allotted time for each of those sections. I am new to philosophical study and felt I needed more time to get my head around the variations of theories that go with this subject, so I needed more time to truly understand the material. I gave myself ‘philosophy days’ where I didn’t even look at my history course reader and I’d stay in philosophy mode in the hope that some of the information would stick (and begin to make sense). Once in philosophy head-space I’d pick a topic (in the order it was delivered to us) and re-read the highlighted areas of my course reader, watch YouTube videos and revisit the content that I’d put into my essays as well as lecture notes.
4. Always a favoured topic of conversation – FOOD. We are bombarded with adverts and information about the importance of healthy foods all of the time. I certainly find it harder at this time of year, I don’t just mean Christmas but winter in general, to eat what you would conventionally regard as “healthy” foods. Yeah, me along with the rest of the world, right! As a student on a low budget (and sporting a permanent hangover) you might think it isn’t important to eat healthily just because you have exams coming up but I think it is, so for me it’s always worth a mention. Now, I’m no nutritionist but ‘brain food’ has to be better for your concentration, surely?! I don’t buy into a lot of the concepts advertised by the food industry but keeping your diet simple and high in fruit and veg has to be a given? Like I said, I’m far from a food expert but I know my concentration is aided by an abundance of veg! And water! Never forget the trusty bottle of water! I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been staring at my books, eating broccoli and drinking bucket loads of water for a straight-up week before exam time but you get where I’m going with it. Just a bit of food for thought, pardon the awful pun there!
5. Don’t worry. Finally, try not to worry too much. Some people barely give this stuff a second thought and just waltz through the exam hall doors, do their thing and leave again without a care in the world. I, unfortunately, am not one of those people. I have to work a little harder and make an effort to concentrate a little better before I can even begin to convince myself I shouldn’t be worried about pending examinations. Luckily, our university is frequently talking to us about taking care of ourselves, dropping in to speak to our tutors/staff etc. if we have any concerns. We’re constantly reminded of the support available to us so, given that this is drilled into our minds constantly, I decided to take the student support staff up on their advice. I sent a request to my tutor to ask if I could sit on my own in a separate room away from the intimidating ‘exam hall’ environment. I’ve never requested anything like this from previous study institutions before but this time I felt I needed to alleviate my anxiousness and save myself unnecessary stresses. Previously, I would just ‘get on with it’ and suck-up the panic. I’d force myself through the doors and spend x amount of time feeling completely sick, frantically scribbling away until the exam was over. I think we just get less tolerant as we get older, I don’t know but I just thought, no, I’m really not prepared to put myself through that ridiculousness again so I asked for some help. Simply asking for help made the whole process a lot less painful.
So, here I am now. Post exam, no trauma and I’m ready for a break!! Final tutor meetings went well. I finished term one with a 1st for seminar performance and 2:1 for essays. Exam results will be given in the new year but quite frankly, I am temporarily past caring! It’s time to eat, drink and be MERRY!
MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all. I hope you all have safe journeys home. I am relying on Southern Rail to get back but hey, that’s a rant for another day.