When a plan comes together

Being organised is generally considered to be something you are either good or bad at – there is no in between. Some people simply have the ability to sort their life into different compartments, knowing exactly where everything is and having all the tools for any eventuality.

While this regimentation to your life may seem a little unappealing for the free spirits out there, there is no denying that it can be pretty helpful when it comes to certain life events. One of those life events that being organised can help with, is exams.

And the good news is that while we can’t completely change our personalities, you can learn a few techniques to help improve your organisation. In the last issue we focused on how to prepare yourself – body, mind and soul – for your exams. This issue, we are taking a look at how to organise everything down to the last paperclip before you even think about hitting the books.

• Organise your revision. Many people find it helpful to do a revision timetable in advance. With so much to learn, a timetable can be useful in making you assess what needs to be done and how much time you need to devote to each area. Organising yourself in this way can also reassure you that there is time to get through it all, and therefore will lower your stress levels.

• Check your notes. Unless you have never been ill or hungover, you are guaranteed to have missed a couple of lectures here and there and didn’t you always mean to get the notes but somehow didn’t get round to it? Well, now is the time to make sure you have everything in order. Go through your notes and ensure that everything is up-to-date, filed nicely and legible. Starting off like this will make everything run a lot more smoothly throughout the revision period.

• Get into a pattern. Working regular hours and getting up and going to bed at the same time can be the key to success. There are people who are positive that they only do their best work at night – unfortunately this kind of studying is a recipe for disaster. Yes, you may have had the luxury of a weekend lie-in but starting work later in the day, when your mind is not fresh, will only take you longer and might not be as effective as you had hoped. If you are absolutely positive that only night-time studying is for you, then make sure you find a quiet spot in your house and don’t let yourself be distracted by the TV.

• Talk to your peers. Some people find that being able to talk about their problems with someone that understands their situation is vital when going through a stressful period. As dentistry is such a long and intensive course, the chances are that your friends on the course will know your difficulties better than any outsider. They will have their own anxieties and so whether it is a problem with a patient, a particular topic that you just can’t get or someone to give you a quick test, getting one of your peers to go through it with you will help show that you’re not alone.

• Talk to your tutor. If you find talking to people from your course more stressful than helpful, then you should try talking to your personal tutor. They have seen students through exams lots of times before and are well-equipped to give you advice. They also know your strengths and weaknesses, so will be able to point out those areas that you are already good at and those that need more work. This kind of objective assessment can be vital before you start revision as it enables you to see things from an examiner’s point of view. After all, that is the position your tutor puts themselves in when giving students exam advice.

• Take a day off. Perhaps the most important of all. Planning time off to do something that you enjoy is crucial to get through finals with your sanity in tact. A break from revision will give you the time to recharge your batteries and come back to it with renewed energy. Plan a break with other people who are studying so you make sure that you are all ready to have time off together. Arrange it so it coincides with an event you would like to attend or watch, something that you can really look forward to, so you will be doubly motivated to revise before you take a break. Having a day off is the ultimate stress buster and the key to balancing anxiety-free exams with professional

success.

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