GCSE season can be a very difficult time. There is a lot of stress and pressure going around and it’s not unheard of for it to make you feel a little bit crap. Even if you are one of those people that strive during exams, it can still get a little on top of you. There’s no shame in admitting it though. You are definitely not alone in it all, everybody up and down the country is going through the same thing!
So, I thought that I’d put together a few tips in coping with the season.
Getting Enough Sleep During GCSE Season.
Sleep is precious everyday but it is especially needed during exam season. Not getting enough sleep leads to sleep deprivation and that leads to your stress levels being higher. During exam season, being more stressed is definitely not what you need so make sure you are getting enough sleep. Not only can it reduce sleep levels but it’s rest and recovery too. Waking up feeling refreshed because of a good night’s sleep is definitely a feeling that you will crave during exams.
I know that when you’re under the pressure of exams, it can be hard to get a good nights sleep. But, there are ways that can help you get to sleep. The most important thing is don’t revise just before you go to sleep. You’ll stress yourself out even more and your brain will struggle to process the information so you may not even remember everything when you wake up again. Before going to sleep, tear yourself away from all of your screens for at least half an hour before putting your head down. Looking at a screen just before going to sleep can cause your brain problems with shutting down and going to sleep.
During my exams when I struggled to get to sleep, I used to take a hot bath. I used to lay in there for around half an hour with a scented candle before going back into my room and listening to some music. This just helped me relax a lot before going to sleep.
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, here we go, a lecture about healthy eating.” WRONG. I’m not going to give you a lecture on the fact you should be eating your five-a-day everyday. Honestly, I can’t say that I did that during exam season. What I mean by eating well in this instance is eating properly and regularly. So, no lectures of eating your five-a-day, a lecture of eating all three meals instead. I’m joking but seriously, it is important.
Eating breakfast in the morning is so important. It wakes up your body and gives you more energy throughout the day. Which, when you’ve got an exam first thing in the morning, is something you’ll crave. Eating breakfast first thing will help fuel your body and your brain to start functioning properly first thing. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll become tired and restless during the day. This can effect your concentration during your exam.
You’ve got an afternoon exam? Are you eating a good lunch? If the answer is no, then you need to change it to yes. Eating before exams is so, so important. Also, if you’ve had an exam first thing in the morning and then a lesson, lunch is going to help keep your energy levels up. The stress and pressure of exams is hard to deal with and eating in the middle of the day is a good way to deal with that.
Okay, I know, I know, dinner is the meal that you’re less likely to skip but we’re going to go through it anyway. Sometimes when you’ve come home from a long day of revision and exams, you just want to sleep. Am I right? Well, you need to eat something in the evening. For one thing, if you’re doing revision in the evening, working on a full stomach will help you concentrate more. You won’t be thinking about the fact you’re hungry because you haven’t eaten. Your mind will be more on the work you’re doing.
Last one, snacking. I really can’t lecture on the five-a-day thing because before an exam, I would drink a can of coke and eat a chocolate bar. Heck, our school gave us a chocolate bar before an exam. It puts you on a bit of a sugar rush for your exam. It means you’ll have the energy to get through it. And, when it’s a two hour Geography exam on Coasts then you might need that. But, try not to snack too much during the day as you still want to eat in moderation. But, eat a small snack and drink something before an exam.
Now, I’m sure you all know why you should drink water. You need to keep hydrated well, all of the time, but during your exams. If you’re not drinking enough, it’ll be harder for you to concentrate and you’ll become tired and irritated. Not drinking enough can also cause you to get headaches and that won’t help you during an exam. I also found that when I was taking my exams, drinking water during the exam would help me calm down when I was panicking. If I was on the edge of a panic attack, I take a little breather and have a drink of water. I found this really helped.
Remember, you are allowed to take a bottle of water into the exam hall with you. You just need to make sure that you take the label off. So, make sure you take some in with you. You may not even need it but it’s there if you do. Whether you’re not very well and need a drink which was a huge help to me when I had tonsillitis during exams. Or you just need to take a little breather and have a drink of water.
Revision. Almost as bad as the exam itself, right? If it isn’t enough that you’ve got to sit in an exam hall for ages, you then have everyone shouting revision methods at you. It can get hard to keep up with everything. One of the hardest things for me when it came to revision was finding the right revision method for me. There are so many different revision methods, I’d be here all day if I went through them all but I’ll go through a couple that worked for me and people I knew.
I made a revision timetable and colour coded it. This way, I could tell what I was good at and what I needed to work on most. For example, Physics was always marked in red because I was so bad at it. So, I worked on that more than I worked on things like English and Geography because they were my best subjects. I made time for each of my subjects and knew which lessons I could do extra little revision bits in. I started my revision time table eight weeks before my exams, starting off with half an hour sessions and ended in two hour sessions. Also, when I was actually doing revision, I listened to music quietly because that’s what helped me. Sometimes it was my favourite bands and sometimes it was just some calming music.
Another revision method is what my brother did. When he was doing his GCSE, he would record himself reading his notes and listen to it back. This works well if you’re an auditory learner as you’re constantly listening to your notes. He told me that this really helped him so if you’re better at listening then maybe try that.
The last technique I’m going to talk about is one my whole friend group used. We each had a box of questions for each subject. Then, at lunch times and break times, we would ask each other questions to test ourselves. This really helped especially with subjects that we were struggling with. It meant our brains were constantly working and it really helped us learn because it was quick fire. So, that’s a method to try with friends or even with family and teachers etc.
Taking A Breather.
When you are under the stress and pressure that GCSE bring, it’s important to take a breather. Take a few hours to yourself. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, talk to your family. You don’t need to be revising every second of the day. Remember, taking breaks is important as your brain can only completely focus for twenty minutes at a time. Revising isn’t everything, you also need to look after yourself. So, go to a concert and take the night off. Take a bath or twenty, just make sure you have at least one or two nights a week where you’re taking a breather.
During an exam, it’s okay to take a breather as well. I know that you are up against time but there’s always time to take a couple of minutes to just breath. If you’re getting worked up over a question, just sit back for a minute or so and take deep breaths. I found that this really helped. Taking a minute or two before looking at the question again can really help. So, make sure you’re being careful and nice to yourself.
Before The Exam.
Now, the waiting before going into an exam can be the scariest time. Groups of people talking about what they hope does and doesn’t come up in the exam. Talking about how to answer questions. Panicking. The time before the exam can be really stressful and can make you and others around you panicky.
If it does make you feel panicky, don’t be scared to step away from it for a few minutes. Take a step away from your friend group and just take a bit of a breather to calm yourself down. Get a drink of water and maybe eat something just to help you calm down. And, when you’re in that situation just keep reminding yourself that you can do it. Text a family member of a close friend who isn’t there for some reassurance.
Also, if you need to, take a quick glance at your revision notes. This can really help. I know when I was doing my English Lit exams then it helped me to just glance at quotes. Do what you need to help yourself before the exam.
After The Exam.
After the exam can be just as daunting as before. You always get that dread feeling when you find out somebody got a different answer to you. I know that it is impossible to get everybody to not talk about the exam afterwards but, there are ways you can avoid hearing it. For example, in my friend group, we made a pact to not talk about the exam after it happened. We came out of the exam and talked to each other about normal things. That way we weren’t stressing each other out.
Also, if you don’t want to be around anyone after an exam that’s okay. Not everybody wants to hang around with their friends or other people after an exam. Especially if it was one that you’re particularly stressed about. It’s okay to take some time for yourself, don’t push yourself.
Okay, this is the last section I promise. Results day. Those two words made me feel physically sick two years ago. I hated those two words with a burning passion. Especially after exams, waiting for results day was horrible. I’m not going to lie to you and say that you won’t be stressed about getting your results because you will. It’s completely understandable to be stressed about it. But, remember that results aren’t the be all and end all of everything. If it doesn’t go completely the way you want it to, you still have so many options. At my college, if we didn’t quite pass Maths or English, they would give classes so we can retake the exam at the end of the year. So, if things don’t exactly go your way, don’t worry. There are still a lot of options out there.
Obviously, with results day, there is what comes next. Going to sixth form or are you going to college? You can find a post about that here. The most important thing there is that you just need to do what’s right for you. Which is a theme in this whole article. You just need to do what’s best for you. Not everything that works for you with work for other people and not everything that works for other people will work for you. But, you’re going to be okay!
So, I know there is a lot to take in here but I hope it helped. Even if it helped just a little bit. The main things are that yes, you need to do these things but everything is going to be okay. If you work hard and strive for what you want, you will get it. No, GCSE exams aren’t the end of the world but they are important. And, you’re going to get through them and you will be okay!
What are you worried about with your GCSE exams? Is there something I’ve missed and you want to know about? Let us know by tweeting us @Fuzzable