Hello everyone! I hope you're all well and still keeping up those New Years' Resolutions. Mine was to make someone smile (or even better laugh) every day and I think I've been doing well so far. As usual time is flying by quickly and a recent trip to the library, after being in a four day bubble at home finishing essays, made me realise how stressful exam periods can be. Never have I seen so many tired and panicked faces...so, as a way to help you now and in the future, I've decided to dedicate this blog to ‘Stress-Free Exam Tips'. Enjoy!
1. Don't Cram
I really can't stress this point enough. I know different people work in different ways and that for some of you, cramming may be the only way you feel you can study. However I personally think it is one of the top ways to stressing you out. When you cram, you're likely to panic and start worrying that you won't have enough time to study everything that you need to. Instead I suggest you break your studying up into short, manageable bits. Study one course at a time, and take a break between subjects so you don't end up confusing yourself. Immediately before a test, you should review (not cram) a few notes to get yourself into the mindset that you need.
2. Get Some Exercise
During the frequent breaks you should be taking between study sessions, try getting some exercise. Going for a short walk (yes shopping does count!) or even just playing with a football for a bit can be a great stress reliever, as exercise causes your body to produce endorphins. You don't want to exercise to the point of exhaustion, but a bit of light exercise can be refreshing.
3. Do Something Fun
A lot of people try to "buckle down" during Final Exams and focus entirely on studying, but doing so is a good way to burn yourself out. Instead try to do something fun, either alone or with friends, such as going to a movie, reading a (nonacademic) book, playing board games, etc. Just don't get too sucked into these fun activities or you might forget to study.
4. Make A Schedule
Write yourself a schedule noting the times and dates of each of your exams, then allocate study times for each. Schedule in a few fun times as well, and then try to stick to your schedule. Put it in a visible place. Having a schedule will let you keep track of how much time you have at your disposal and how best to use that time.
5. Eliminate Distraction
It is very easy to get distracted during Final Exams, so do everything you can to avoid distractions whilst studying. Turn off televisions and computers (Facebook isn't going to help you) and try to eliminate other forms of visual entertainment. Decide if you study best in complete silence or if you study better with background noise. Consider moving your study location to a place that is not your bedroom.
6. Study With Friends
You aren't the only person dealing with exams. Try to get together with friends and classmates to study. Stress is easier to deal with when you know other people are going through it too. Just make sure the group stays on-task, or everyone will just be wasting time.
7. Get Plenty of Rest
Your body deals with stress better when it is well-rested. While it's tempting to stay up very late to study before a big test, you'll do better if you go to bed and get the seven to eight hours sleep that your body needs for rest.
8. Eat Healthy
Final exams often overlap with eating lots of junk food, but try to stay away from the junk and eat healthier foods instead. Instead of crisps for a snack, try things like an apple. Drink water instead of fizzy drinks. You'll have more energy and generally just feel better.
9. Be Careful With Caffeine
While caffeine can be a great way to give yourself a quick boost of energy, it can be a double-edged sword once the crash hits. Avoid energy drinks and the like, as the crash that comes along with them can often cause you to lose more time than the energy boost lets you make up.
10. Just Breathe!
Final exams can be stressful, but they aren't the end of the world. Chances are you'll do better on the final than you think you will. Anytime you feel yourself stressing out, just stop what you're doing, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, refocus, and get back to it.
In studying Pharmacology our course offers the opportunity to take a year in industry (also known as a ‘sandwich year'). Ours is taken between years two and three and I believe it will be very beneficial to my future career.
After speaking with my course director, it has come to my attention that in the current climate there are not a lot of jobs and there are a huge number of graduates. This has led me to the conclusion that taking a placement would be a good start in getting my foot onto the career ladder, and has also reminded me that I should push myself as hard as I can to get a good degree. My course director mentioned that in increasing numbers, employers are only taking graduates who have work experience as they already know a reasonable amount about the work that they are doing.
There are several placements available, including summer internships for those who don't want to lose a year of studying for whatever reason. Kingston's Careers and Employability service is constantly sending emails, posting positions of interest on Facebook and inviting you to meet representatives from some of the UK's best employers. They work so that these events are course specific (i.e. I couldn't end up going to an event that was only for Biomedical Science students!) For my course specifically I can find a placement depending on which branch of Pharmacology I'd like to go into, which is a huge bonus.
From a studying point of view there is also a huge positive in taking a placement year. Recently 81% of students who took the year in industry got a first or 2.1 degree. Only 34% of non-placement students achieved the same class of degree. For this reason I think a placement year would be hugely beneficial for me even though I already have some work experience from before my degree. Being a first year, I have a while to go before I have to make a decision about whether I want to do one and where I want to go, but it is something that I am very excited about. I think it will help with the third year of my degree, especially the project aspect of it. Kingston is very pro-active about helping with graduate jobs and industry placements and when I get there I know that they will be there to help if I need them!
It doesn't need to be said that the most important part of university is succeeding so you can go and get your dream job, and Kingston definitely plays a big part in helping all the students succeed. From the Language Scheme, to help with internships and placements, Kingston offers lots of help to their students to get the best graduate jobs.
Having attended the internships and placements talk at Kingston Hill, as well as the spotlight events on working in retail and FMCG careers, I will be focusing on these to tell you about how Kingston prepares us for success. The talk on placements was to give information to those who were thinking of undertaking a placement year between their 2nd and 3rd years at university. There is a wealth of help available to students to make sure that they can get through online applications, writing CVs and interview tips to make sure you get the placements that you want. There is even a dedicated placements office! I have decided not to go on a placement year, as I am looking into summer internships for this summer at the moment. But I know a lot of my friends have been busy applying and I would highly recommend considering going on a placement if your course offers it, as it will really boost your CV, especially if you know what you wish to do after you graduate.
The other topic I wish to talk about is the Careers Uncovered events that take place throughout the year. I attended the Retail Careers and the FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) Careers Uncovered events last semester. At both events, a number of speakers came from well-known companies such as Unilever, Apple and the John Lewis Partnership to talk about the graduate roles they offer as well as the placements/internships they offer to students in, usually, their penultimate year. These gave an insight into the roles that they offer to students, and helped narrow down which companies to apply to for placements or graduate roles in the final year. There was also the opportunity to talk to the speakers afterwards, and ask them any questions that you had, from entry requirements to the best placement/graduate role to suit you.
These events were incredibly useful in helping me decide what I want to do, and I know that they also helped a number of my friends choose which companies they want to apply to for placements. These events aren't just in the Business and Law faculty though; there is something for everyone in each faculty, from Journalism to Engineering, and they can really help you in succeeding in your chosen career.