Exams suck, let’s face it, but like essays or prac classes they’re an inevitable part of uni life.

With a few semesters under your belt, you begin to realise exams aren’t the end of the world and there are ways of surviving them so when they’re done you can get on with enjoying your well-deserved holidays.

We asked exam survivor extraordinaire and third year Bachelor of Psychological Science student Jasmin Brooks to share some of her hints on getting through SWOTVAC and the exam period unscathed. Here’s what she recommends.

  1. Enjoy your coffee


Coffee during exam periods is an absolute essential, if it delights your tastebuds! Drinking three to four coffees a day is totally socially acceptable during exams and much better for your health than energy drinks. We’ve got some great cafes close to our campuses so you could even treat yourself to some high-quality coffee if you meet your study goal for the day. However, excess amounts of caffeine can affect anxiety, especially when it is already high during exams periods, so drink in moderation!


  1. Get some exercise
Women exercise at city park at winter

Women exercise at city park at winter

Although exercise tends to be at the back of everyone’s mind during exams, it is an absolute game changer for your headspace. Aim to get your head out of the books for at least 15 minutes a day and go for a walk, or a run, or a swim or anything that gets those endorphins kicking! Tassie has so many local walking trails where you can breath in some brain-clearing fresh air, and even a walk along Sandy Bay beach will do the trick.


  1. Rest


Cramming last minute – we’ve all done it. Staying up half the night studying for your exam the next day may seem like a good idea, in theory. However, this is not the case. It is suggested that during exams you need to aim for 7-9 hours sleep a night in order to be able to function effectively. You also retain knowledge better when you’re well rested. Do not deprive yourself of sleep, nothing is more important than a decent snooze.


  1. Breaks


Study and break in moderation – your study is always going to be there when you come back (unfortunately). Every 15 minutes or so aim to get up and have a stretch, ideally away from your study space. Some might find it effective to set themselves interval breaks, where you study for 45 minutes, have a break for 20. Find something that works for you, but do not neglect giving your brain a break every now and then!


  1. Study Schedule


PLAN, PLAN, PLAN (and prioritise). Before you begin studying for exam periods, sit down and write out what you need to do on each day. This will help with your time-management, but also hold you accountable for slacking off! Personally, I benefit from prioritising topics which need some extra work and planning what chapters to read/slides to skim over. Everyone studies differently, but creating a schedule is always a good idea.


  1. Ask questions


If you’re uncertain about something, do not hesitate to ask. Chances are, someone else is struggling with the same thing. It is your lecturer’s job to help you, don’t feel bad for asking them for some extra guidance.  Also, it is not a great idea to neglect something you’re not sure about, because if you’re as unlucky as me, it will be on your exam.  Ask your peers, ask your lecturers, ask anyone who will listen! And remember, one of the advantages of studying at UTAS is that we have small classes and high ratio of lecturers to students so they really do have time to spend with you one on one. Make use of it!


  1. Quiz yourself / others


Again, this might not be a useful study tip for everyone but it is definitely worth trying if you haven’t so already. Getting people to test you on content, as well as testing others, or testing yourself, is a great way to assess your knowledge. This method relies on recall of information and will indicate what topics you may need to focus on a bit more. Ask questions of one another and explain things in your own words – it is the most effective and efficient way I have learnt to study.


  1. Pace yourself


Don’t try to do everything at once! You will burn yourself out and struggle to study for all your other exams. As mentioned earlier, creating a study schedule is an awesome way to manage your time and by doing this, you can actually plan to pace yourself. Take your time, do what you need to do, but do so in a way that you are able to do it all again. “Leave some steam in your tank.”


  1. Maintain a good diet


Don’t get me wrong, nothing tastes as good as a cheeseburger or bag of chips when you’re under stress, but unfortunately, this does not help the cause. Eat your veggies (lettuce in a Big Mac doesn’t count), drink lots of water and refuel your body. Drinking water increases your energy, reduces fatigue and also helps with concentration. There are so many water-bubblers hanging around campus, bring a drink bottle and aim for at least three bottles a day. And remember: Tasmania reputedly has the cleanest water in the world!



  1. Think about the end


All the pain and suffering throughout exams will be SO WORTH IT. Keep the end in sight: end of exams; end of degree; end of University (forever)! It might seem like the end of the world at this point in time but you will always reflect on this period and be so proud of yourself for living to tell the tale. Have a cry, have a bath, get it together, and keep on trucking.


Need some advice about preparing for exams or coping with the stress levels? We have amazing international student advisors who can give you support and help – and not just during SWOTVAC and exam period. Drop in or drop them a line – they’re amazingly helpful! We also have lots of other support services including learning support, some designed specifically with international students in mind. Check them out now.