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Exam-busting 101: How to de-stress your brain while studying

Sinead Goodfellow  |  08 May 2019

Completing school assignments on time and studying for exams are some of the most stressful parts of being a teenager. One of our young writers shares some of her tips for ensuring you care for your mental health and wellbeing, so that you can study smarter not harder.

  1. Create a timetable and factor in relaxation time

All you need is Microsoft Excel, and your calendar. You can do this as a weekly/monthly thing or even for a whole semester.

Start by putting in regular things that won’t change: class times, work shifts, etc, and then look at what you have remaining. This is the time that you can put in when you will do study and revision, and when you can work on assignments.

BUT, don’t fill up every free space with study! Leave time for eating and showering, and time each day and week for relaxing and doing something that makes you happy. Doing a semester timetable means you can put all the due dates of your assignments or quizzes on one page, ready to see at a glance what you will have due in a week or five.


  1. Find a way to take notes and break down ideas that works for you

Reading through a textbook will 100 per cent put you to sleep, so take it one idea at a time.

My way to study is to go through the readings and highlight the key words in each paragraph. Once I have highlighted some key words, I break up the sentences around those words into short, key ideas.

The way I was taught to write notes in VCE (which I still do now at uni), is to turn my notebook horizontally, rule a line 4-5cm from the left (this is the space to write the key-words I’ve highlighted) and using little arrows, go across the page, dot pointing each little note related to the key word. What I end up with is a visual representation of the key ideas in the textbook, which is much easier to take in and remember.

  1. Make sure you eat well and exercise

This is a no brainer. Going for a walk, even just around the block for a few minutes during a study break, can help get your blood flowing so you can get into gear and learn yo’self some facts.

One of my friends used to get up and do star jumps every half hour or so. Granted, she looked ridiculous in the library, but it worked. Also, try and keep up at least one afterschool activity; they’re great for stress relief and keeping active.

Now the important stuff: study snacks. Sadly, I find that if I make myself hot food or drink, I won’t finish it before it goes cold, so I’m constantly getting up to reheat it or make more. Instead, try to stick to cold things or use a thermos to keep drinks warm while you study. Small treats to ease yourself into a long study session can help. For example, a gummy bear for every page that you read through.

  1. Go to sleep!

I cannot tell you how many times I actually had to tell my friends to sleep. Set a reasonable bedtime for yourself and stick to it! 2am study crams do NOT help you.

Part of sleeping is the uninterrupted consolidation of memories you have made throughout the day.

The night before your exam is a big one. By 9pm switch your highlighter for pjs and snuggle into bed. If you haven’t fully learned that last chapter by now, it’s not gonna happen. So chill out and consolidate what you do know. The last thing you need on exam day is extra stress because you’re tired. You can always ask for any last-minute help the next morning if you have time and you’re still worried.



Topic tags: familylife, healthycommunitylife

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