Exams are a well known source of of stress. But it’s not just the immediate run up to them that causes anxiety. Revision can be a daunting prospects for our teens too.

It is not a surprise that GCSEs, A Level and degree final exams can cause a considerable amount of pressure. Afterll, they’re important. It’s that feeling of significance – the impact of the results will have –  that means students are bound to worry about how they will perform.

However, for many the feeling of pressure can strike much earlier.

In the run up to exams, revision can be equally weighty. Especially for GCSE students who might no have sat public, high-stakes exams before.

Often anxiety can peak when we don’t feel like we’re in control. When it comes to planning for exams we tend to find there are two key areas of concern.

How much work have I got to do?

When will I fit it in?

Let’s address each of these.

How much have I got to do?

It can often feel like there’s a magic porridge pot of work to do. In order to feel confident and in control, it’s best to break task down into smaller pieces of work. This can make tasks feel much more manageable. 

So, rather that thinking about the mountain of work that is Geography. for example, think about it in terms of the topics (e.g. Population) and then the units in that (e.g. Dynamics, Migration, etc).

This is a fantastic way of taking a view of everything that needs to be done. 

When will I fit it in?

Now you know precisely what it is that you have to do you *simply* need to do it.

For some this complete list might seem large, but with a systematic plan, you will be surprised what you can achieve. Especially as a great plan can overcome procrastination and help maximise efficiency.

We talk in detail about how to plan throughout this blog – after all it is what we’re famous for!

In overview, a great plan is flexible enough to evolve based on feedback and experience. A mastery of time is vital to a feeling of control and to prevent a feeling of drowning in work.

When we plan time we start with blocking out commitments (e.g. school, sports fixtures, job), then add in the social/me time (e.g. parties, lie-ins, new show episodes). The blank spaces can then accommodate some study without feeling like that is all that’s filling a day.

Map out one week at a time. It’s important to keep a focus on what you can manage and build a routine. Also this helps to reframe success; away from the far future grade of the exam to the the end of the week. Something that you have more immediate control over. 

Monitor progress and adapt

At the end of the week look back and review how things went:

  • what was completed
  • what needs more time
  • what didn’t happen

Next week’s plan should be adapted based on any learnings.

It’s important to make progress of course. But equally it’s crucial to unpick things that didn’t go according to plan. This is inevitable and not a symptom of a failing approach. Ask:

  • Is there a reason why something didn’t go to plan?
  • Is it likely to happen again?
  • If so, what do we do about it?

Any plan must have balance and be realistic and achievable. This is how we look after our wellbeing. You can’t sustain all work and no down time – any more than you should put everything off and create a future problem.

It is also important to remember that things don’t always go according to plan. That’s fine. We adapt to unexpected successes as much as we do set-backs.