Yep, it’s that time of year again when all of a sudden it hits you that you have BIG and IMPORTANT things to do. Now, you have two options: you can either run away and hide in a cave hoping that it will all go away. Or you can follow this advice (dispensed by someone who has no authority to give it except for once being a student who survived finals…)
Prioritise. No one enjoys taking stock of what has to be done because you suddenly realize what has to be done. But, it has to be done. (If you’ve still got three months until your exams begin then well done, you smug so-and-so, now move along, no one likes a swot.) If, like most of us, you have maybe left things a tiny bit late then its time to grit your teeth and make a list of the things that need doing and when it needs doing by. DO NOT PANIC.
Break down tasks. Make tasks small enough that you can tick something off every few hours. Tasks are less daunting if they are “Draft introduction,” or “Reference literature review,” rather than “FINISH DISSERTATION.”
Plan: Once you’ve got your list of priorities then its time to make a plan. Don’t be an idiot about it. You’re short on time so there is no need for you to make your own paper, write on it in fairy dust and then embellish it with gold-plated hearts. Biro on scrap paper will do.
Make a timetable…but cheat. Allot an extra 20-30 minutes to each task than you think it will take, okay, not for “brush my teeth,” but for bigger things. You will avoid trying to stuff an impossible amount of things into your day, you are more likely to complete everything you plan, and you either have additional free time, or can get ahead of schedule!
Keep in touch. Now is NOT the time to stop talking to friends, family and significant others. Give them a ring, grab a revision break coffee with them, go to the gym with them. They will keep your feet on the ground and remind you that there is more to life than these exams.
Don’t be an idiot. Whilst keeping in touch is important, playing Facebook games for four hours or going to a rave the night before an exam will not help. Obviously.
Make use of the available support. Keep in contact with your supervisor or tutor who can advise you on what to read, and how to structure essays and exam answers. Good tutors know when something is wrong! "You seem to have gone into radio silence mode, you're either snowed under a mountain of stuff or you're sitting on a mountain of panic resembling 'Touching the Void' but without the happy bits. Do tell.” My dissertation supervisor - Steve Kettell
Just do your best. We KNOW it’s what your mum always said, but I reckon she’s a pretty wise lady. If you’ve done your best then what will be will be.
Remember ‘This too shall pass’. Honest. It will. You’re going to be just fine.
*Some have suggested that alternative drinks are available and constitute acceptable life-choices. Whilst the jury deliberates on the legitimacy of this claim, remember, everything is better with tea.
By Nicola Beaumont and Jenni Summerscales