‘You’re not alone’: How I make it through revision, essays and exams

03 Dec 2019
By Gioia D M., Student at University of Glasgow

Revision is one part of university life that I think everyone must hate at some point. It’s stressful, frustrating and can seem as though it’s never ending.

But it’s important to realise that you’re not alone in your frustration. I’m going to tell you about the ups and downs I’ve experienced during university; I hope they reveal some helpful tips on how to get through this rocky time of the year.

1) Defeat the monstrous student habit of procrastinating

It’s so easy to fall into the habit of procrastination, putting your work off for hours or even days at a time. Procrastination itself takes many forms: infinitely scrolling through social media, binge watching a TV series, cleaning your room (yes, that’s also procrastination!). Basically, it’s when you’ll do anything to avoid what you’re actually supposed to be doing.

Truthfully, I think procrastination is part of the process of getting any essay or revision done. I find it helpful to make a plan of what I need to get finished during the day. For example, I might write a to-do list such as:

  • Finish writing the first two paragraphs
  • Read article x, y or z
  • Review notes

This allows me to keep track of the things I’m doing (or not doing). Essentially, it’s my way of guilt-tripping myself. If I don’t finish everything on the list by the end of the day, I know I will feel incredibly bad, so it encourages me to do as much as possible.

Related: ‘I recommend colour coding’: How to plan and manage your time at uni

2) Find out what revision style works for you

Being stuck at a desk preparing for an exam can be incredibly boring - if it’s not done right. I think sometimes we forget that there’s more than one way to revise; I personally like to change my way of studying every couple of hours.

If I’m reading articles and writing notes, I like to put some of my favourite tunes on. This way, I associate reading and writing with something fun. I have a whole playlist full of songs that I can listen to while still managing to concentrate on my work. In fact, music actually helps me concentrate more.

Again, this is quite subjective, but everyone will have something that works for them. You might consider using regular breaks with, say, an episode of a TV show to keep you motivated. You’ll then start associating finishing a task with a reward of some kind.

If I have to memorise something, I like to read out loud and walk around. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I have to imagine that I’m reciting my notes to an audience. Either way, there are several ways you can make revision less painful (so to say), and you can be as imaginative as possible finding what specifically works for you.

Related: Can music help you study? Here’s what student Kacey thinks

3) Don’t be afraid to spend time with your loved ones

I recently had to write three essays that were all due in the same week. It might seem odd, but even though I was writing them in the library with my friends there, I kept catching myself saying: “I miss you guys!”

It’s kind of ridiculous because, although we were swamped with work, we were still with each other most of the time. But it’s not the same thing. I missed being in our little group without all the stress and worry weighing on our shoulders.

The same goes for family. I felt like I barely had any time to keep in contact with my parents; like every second I spent on the phone texting them was time I was wasting and taking away from the essays I was supposed to be writing. But you need to remember that taking time for yourself and your loved ones is just as important as your work.

Why not dedicate half an hour to call your family each day. I’m sure they’ll understand that you’re busy and catching up with them will probably put you in a better mood to study afterwards. Plan something fun to do with your friends and use it as an incentive to get through this stressful time together. Hopefully, this will help keep you sane during your revision period.

Overall, you can do it…

As strange as it might sound, I sometimes feel like time is going both too fast and too slow. One day it’s as if I barely have time to do everything, but then it’s as if time is dragging and this awful period will never pass. Do you know what I mean?

The only advice I can give you is that it will pass. Remember, only you can convince yourself that you can do it. You just have to make this last push before you can go back to enjoying your time at university with your friends.

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Currently studying English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Glasgow! A little Italian making her way through the world, lover of all food and dead scared of pigeons! I lived in England for the past five years, but I’m also a massive fan of Scotland - and a little obsessed with Mary Queen of Scots…