Some handy tips from local drug and alcohol service, ReNew.

Exam time can be stressful and you may consider looking for ways to improve your concentration or keep you awake longer so you can fit in as much revision as possible. We’ve got some handy tips to help you to be more productive and also things to avoid if you want to reduce stress over the exam period:-

Keep revision sessions short

Research shows that revision is best done in 20-30 minute spells. Concentration is at its highest for this period of time and having short breaks allows the brain to reboot, meaning you are then more likely to take in and retain information.

Keep active

Exercise can be really helpful in making revision sessions more productive. As little as 30 minutes of exercise gets oxygen to the brain and increases productivity whilst also reducing tiredness and stress.

Stay well rested

Sleep is really important during both revision and exams. It isn’t wasted time as it is when our bodies process the events of the day. It is also a time when we consolidate and strengthen memories. Research has shown that after sleep we retain information better and are able to perform well in memory related tasks. This is vital for us when we are revising for, and taking part in, exams.

Eat well and stay hydrated

It’s also really important to eat properly and stay well hydrated whilst revising. Try to plan ahead and cook and freeze easy meals to avoid reaching for convenience food. Keep caffeine intake to a minimum as this may affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

What to avoid

It can be tempting to leave revision until the last minute and then cram information in by staying up late and using caffeine and other stimulants to fuel performance. This will have a negative impact in terms of what you retain and how you are able to logically present information in an exam.

Even if you feel that you won’t be able to fit in all the revision that you would like to, using the tips above, you are more likely to remember what you have revised under pressure.

Use of stimulants such as speed and cocaine may temporarily make you feel as though you have more energy. They will increase your blood pressure levels, heart rate and respiration, but this burst of energy will be short lived and you are unlikely to retain information whilst you are under the influence or afterwards when your body is recovering.

Other types of stimulant can include those available on prescription to treat conditions such as ADHD and Narcolepsy. In all cases, stimulant use will negatively affect sleep pattern, appetite, memory and mood, therefore making us less productive when retaining information and presenting it in an exam.

If you are trying to relax and escape stress by using alcohol or cannabis this will not be productive in the long run. Feeling unwell the next day could stop you from being able to revise and these substances are system depressants that negatively affect the balance of chemicals in the brain and make you feel low in mood. A positive outlook during exams can make a big difference to the outcome. Research suggests that a positive attitude can affect the way you approach the exam and helps you to be more relaxed. Try to see it as a way to demonstrate how fantastic you are rather than something that is going to outline any flaws.

If you require more information about drugs and alcohol, or would like some support to make changes to your use, please contact ReNew Community on 01482 363565. You can also speak to the student support services team at The University of Hull. More information can be found at www.hull.ac.uk/support

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