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January Exams and Christmas fun – finding the balance

The longest year ever is finally coming to an end and the temptation in December is to shut down the laptop, hide the books and immerse yourself in the festive season. Unfortunately, it also means that January exams are around the corner and you will have to revise over the short Christmas break. Fear not, there are some ways to ensure that you won’t totally miss out the Christmas vibes and still prepare adequately for the January exam.

Realistic Timetable

Before you jump into revising, you have to set up a plan or a timetable, a realistic one too. A basic week by week calendar with measurable goals and the topics that you need to cover is an excellent place to start. This way, revision isn’t as overwhelming as it may sound and you can track your progress and make adjustments along the way. Having a timetable also helps with adding structure to your day and will ease the pressure to always feel productive all the time.

A picture of this week timetable with a pen on top of it
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

Revision Strategy

After you’ve set out your plan, establish a study strategy that works for you. Everyone has a unique technique – it could be flashcards, talking it out or watching videos – so you have to find what’s best for you. Don’t just rely on your class slides or notes from your tutors, extend your research beyond the course outline and the recommended reading list. While most revision guides will suggest that mornings are best, that might not work for everyone. So don’t beat yourself for a short lie-in if that means you’re getting the rest you need to be fully productive.

Study Buddies

While some students may be fortunate enough to be spending the Christmas holidays with family, others will be in students halls and residence. It may seem lonely and isolating particularly around this season, but rest assured, you are not alone. Reach out to other students who may be in a similar space and form study groups for support and accountability. One of the best ways to learn is by working with others who are just as serious and committed to their goals. As a group, you can reinforce what you know, exchange ideas and different perspectives on certain topics or just compare notes.

Two girls studying together with their laptops
Having a study partner that motivates you when you are don’t feel like revising is such an advantage. You could even teach other the content to test how much you remember.

Seek help

Besides textbooks, lecture recordings or readings, students have access to a plethora of resources such as friends, tutors and other professionals. If you need more clarification on a particular topic (after doing your own research of course), write to your tutors, classmates or someone with research/work experience in that area. Just maintain a level of professionalism in your communication (stick to office/working hours) and keep in mind that they too are trying to enjoy the holidays too. Look up and seek help from other researchers who are working on your subject areas, you’ll be surprised how many of them are actually willing to help students in their studies.

Plan some holidays

Remember it’s still December and you need to enjoy the holiday as well. Set aside days off your study plan to relax and kick back because it’s equally important for your productivity. Get out of the house, go Christmas shopping, make time for people in your life. You could divide your days into hardcore working days, holidays and a few buffer days. It’s usually more effective to intensively revise for a couple of days than trying to do everything every day. It also keeps you sane.

A group of people taking a photo is the snow
It is important to be able to take breaks and rest your mind during this busy time.

If you follow some of these suggestions, you won’t find yourself scrambling to pull all-nights after new years and you’ll avoid the guilt of not preparing for the exams.

Have you also read these articles?

How to Deal with Exam Stress

Holiday Shopping Guide: Gifts to get your Friends and Family this Christmas!

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