How to survive your final year of school (or any exam period)
Surprisingly, it's not all about studying hard!
The final year of school is crazy for anyone. You’re on the cusp of adulthood, and yet, before you reach that glorious freedom, you must jump a little hurdle called ‘exams’. Having just completed school myself, I know first-hand how difficult it is to navigate the balance of study and normal life.
Additionally, I’m also aware of all the repetitive, sometimes non-practical study tips that crammed down the throat of every student. So, instead of those, here are my five unusual, and practical, tips on how to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually during your last year of school (or any exam period).
(Note: While this article is aimed at almost-school-leavers, its advice is relevant for anyone completing any type of exams.)
While God created us to work, he also created the concept of rest. Choose one day a week where you take the whole day off from anything school related. Do things you enjoy so that your batteries are recharged for the next week of study. For me, it was helpful to have my rest day on Sunday. I would sleep in, have a morning coffee and spend the day reading, writing and going to the beach.
This doesn’t mean that school consumes every other waking minute. Smaller times of relaxation are healthy too (before bed or at lunch breaks, for example). But, what a rest day does is allows your body to ignore, for a whole 24 hours, the pressure of school.
2. Stay Connected
It is very important to not study yourself into a bubble that is only penetrated by classmates asking you the locus of point P where the gradient is tan of 67 degrees. Surround yourself with supportive friends who are willing to share the burden when things aren’t going great. Christian friends are even better - knowing that I had people my age praying for me was very encouraging.
However, more importantly, you need to stay connected with God. It doesn’t matter how - church, youth group, bible study, quiet times - as long as you maintain that relationship. In my experience, I found that I felt significantly better about my study and my efforts in doing so when I stayed connected with God consistently throughout the week.
3. Know Your Limits
Ensure that you pace yourself throughout the year so you don’t burn out halfway through. Create a schedule that enables you to achieve all that you have to during the week, but that also conserves energy for the remainder of the term. Personally, I would study hard during the day and then stop around 7, leaving the rest of my night free to do the things I enjoyed.
4. Reward Yourself
Rewards are an incredible source of fuel for when your motivation tank is running low (for you can only receive the reward when you have worked hard, right?). Congratulate yourself when you arrive at the end of the week, at the end of the term and then at the end of the year!
My end-of-the-week reward was the delicious combination of a family movie night with homemade pizza and fancy ice-cream. It was by far my favourite part of the week.
5. Find Study Methods That Work For You
There are a crazy amount of study methods out there, but you must find the ones that work for you. Here are a few that worked for me, some of which you may not have heard of.
- Record your summary notes and listen to them while getting ready for school in the morning
- Make mind maps of important components of the course/unit
- Do LOTS of practice papers (if you only implement one study method ever, implement this one! It’s probably the most effective and the most vital!)
- Do extra research (eg. reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries)
- Make quizzes (with answers) and then do them
It’ll Be Over One Day
No matter what you glean from this article, it doesn’t change the fact that exams, let alone the final year of school, are hard. But, I do hope that these strategies alleviate some of that difficulty. Remember, God has his hand over your study; it will be over soon. There is a definitive date in sight.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:31-34