The run-up to exams can be a stressful time and your usual organisation strategies can easily slip. But don’t worry, as I have a few suggestions to combat that stress, make your exam preparation easier and get you back on track.

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The Eisenhower Matrix

One issue I have is that it can be difficult to prepare myself to do some revision when other tasks are on my mind. Washing the dishes, tidying your room, walking the dog or going for a run are all forms of procrastination that can be on your mind in the run-up. However, prioritising these tasks and setting a timetable are important to ensure you settle down and revise. When you are preparing for multiple exams it’s essential to have excellent organisational skills to make sure you are using your time effectively.

The Eisenhower Matrix. 4 square boxes where you can categorise tasks by important/urgent, important/less urgent, Less important/urgent and less important/less urgent
The Eisenhower Matrix

A good starting point in ranking the tasks that you need to complete is the Eisenhower Matrix. This is where you categorise all your tasks into boxes depending on urgency and importance. The more urgent and important the task is, the higher on the priority list it should be. I recommend this You Tube video which is a good introduction to the matrix. It’s easy to place all tasks within the ‘Do First’ box, however, think of it on a day-by-day basis. A task on one day may not be as urgent on another. As someone who likes diagrams to see what I need to do, having the satisfaction of crossing it off my checklist is therapeutic especially when it’s been on my to do list for a long time.

The Pomodoro Technique

Now that you have got yourself organised, the question is ‘what’s next?’ Sitting down for a long study day can be daunting at first, usually I can think of other activities I could do rather than sitting down and writing notes.

Pomodoro technique countdown timer from 25 minutes
Pomodoro Technique Countdown Timer

One technique that I have learned over the years breaks down the ‘long study day’ thought into 25-minute chunks, making it far more interesting rather than ‘I have to study this whole topic by the end of the day’. Breaking down tasks in 25-minute chunks with a small break in between can be a good way to motivate yourself, knowing that there is not long before you can get yourself a drink or do a smaller task to refresh your mind. It can be very easy to reply to a message or watch a couple of TikTok videos so a timer on your phone or a task list such as Pomofocus is a tool I find useful.

Rest and Treat Yourself

Studying can be hard! Everyone is different and it can be difficult to find techniques/tools to suit you. Taking breaks and let your brain rest will help in the long run as it allows you to absorb all the information you’ve been reading about. Starting early (but not too early), is a tip we have all heard before but it works. Treating yourself after a good study session if what your brain needs. You should be so proud that you have done your exams, go and binge watch that new Netflix TV show or go and meet your friends, you truly deserve it.

By Thomas Jones

Student Advisor Thomas Jones

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading all Tom’s tips and techniques. You can find more useful toolkits and guides on the UniSkills Getting Organised pages.

Good luck with your exams and assessments!