Today is the day I sit my first proper professional exam. Well, the first half of it anyway. Two three hour papers over two days – so the torture isn’t over until tomorrow evening! Then it’s a break for a few weeks before a practical one in May, then straight back into studying ready for September’s exam – all before the results of this one are released! They weren’t joking when they said the first few years of my career would be intense…
When I finish my first exam later, I know I’ll have to come back home and hit my notes again ready for tomorrow. I know that it won’t be very long before I need to start prepping for my practical exam. I know that studying will start all over again very quickly. And for that I’m going to need some serious motivation. It’s not easy studying on top of full-time work (I’ve got a post coming soon – once exams are over and I’ve had time to write it!) so I keep a list of quotes on hand for when I need a good kick up the arse.
I’ve got these typed up on my phone, handwritten in my diary and there’s a few on post-it notes doted around my flat, work desk and study notes. They’re surprisingly uplifting when you randomly happen across one!
The first few quotes have been taken from Becca Rose (there’s loads of great motivational quotes on her post here).
“Inhale confidence. Exhale doubt.”
“Set some goals. Stay quiet about them. Smash the shit out of them. Clap for your own damn self.”
“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”
“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
“Small progress is still progress.”
“Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal.”
“Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.”
“If you get tired; learn to rest, not to quit.”
“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”
The rest of the quotes I’ve picked up from Pinterest and Instagram over the last few months. Where I found them with a source, I’ve added it in – as well as adding in any I could easily find. If you know where the rest of them are from, feel free to share!
“The Way Get Started Is To Quit Talking And Begin Doing.” -Walt Disney
“Don’t Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much Of Today.” -Will Rogers
“You Learn More From Failure Than From Success. Don’t Let It Stop You. Failure Builds Character.”
“Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can’t, You’re Right.”- Henry Ford
“You Are Never Too Old To Set Another Goal Or To Dream A New Dream.”- C.S. Lewis
“Don’t stop when you’re tired. STOP when you are DONE.”
“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
“Good things come to people who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them.”
“If life was not meant to be a puzzle it would have come with an instruction manual.”
I also picked up a Motivational Desk calendar for W last year, just as a little stocking filler from Santa, but I’ve kind-of adopted it. It’s been so nice to have something motivating displayed in the flat – it’s one of the first things I see when I come home and I find it spurs me on to do just that little bit more after a long day.
How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you have any quotes to share?
Now it’s March, all of a sudden exams seem an awful lot closer than they did this time last week. Things are getting serious, and as it’s final year there’s no fixing any mistakes made. I’m one of those people who gets hugely stressed around exam time, I pretty much live off adrenaline – and get ill 30 minutes after my last exam ends (true story).
When PasTest offered to send over their top tips for beat exam stress, I was intrigued as to what they’d come up with. Turns out there’s some good advice here!
The trials and tribulations of everyday life can get to anyone, but when you factor in revising for your exams it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you’re finding yourself getting increasingly stressed about your upcoming exams, try these tips for handling exam stress:
Look After Yourself
Stress manifests itself in various ways – from feeling anxious to random outbursts of anger – and when the pressure is on it helps to remember a few bits of advice to ensure your head remains in the game.
Look after yourself and maintain a decent work/life balance
Make sure you have a balanced diet
Exercise can be a great way of switching off from the pressures of revision and allows you to blow off steam. If you’re not a gym-bunny then a head-clearing walk will suffice
Socialise with friends who aren’t on the same course as you – hanging out with other students can sometimes cause more panic as you’re guaranteed to end up talking about revision
Don’t overdo the socialising as you don’t want to lose a day of precious revision to a hangover!
Last Minute Revision
If we were all ideal students, there would be no such thing as last minute revision and everyone would be prepared well in advance. So if you’re a last minute reviser, how do you handle the stress and dread? Your first answer might be ‘CAFFEINE!’ but if you overdo this it can have the knock-on effect of making you even more anxious and reduce your productivity as a result. Far better to choose other last minute cram-revision methods…
PasTest offer a variety of revision aids each suited to how well you personally respond to learning – there are vLectures, paper lectures, past exam papers, and even podcasts that you can listen to to help you. Perfect for cramming.
Give A Past Paper A Go
Whether you’re an auditory learner or a visual learner, the proof is in the pudding which is why having a go at a past exam paper is great idea – this can provide a real morale boost when you’re stressing over whether you’ve revised enough or on the flipside can point you towards what you need to revise some more about.
Don’t Turn Up Late!
Though you might be stressing and panicking about the exam, this feeling will be nothing in comparison to how you feel if you’re running late for it. Not only is showing up late embarrassing but getting yourself in a fluster before even sitting down will have a massive impact on how well you perform during the day. Plan your arrival thoroughly and make sure to check the traffic before setting off for any accidents that might cause delay.
If you find your stress level is above what you’ve normally experienced, remember there are options available – whether you visit your student support service or GP or just have a quiet chat with friends and family they can provide help and assistance.
I’m a big advocate of looking after yourself, particularly around exam season. I also have a rule of a ‘treat’ meal, preferably something vegetarian (I had food poisoning the night before a GCSE exam once, so eating meat is something which stresses me out around exam times) the evening prior to an exam. The best tip for me here is to definitely try past papers – it gets you both learning the material and familiar with the exam layout and style of question. Kills multiple birds with one stone I guess!
*Sponsored post in associated with PasTest, however all opinions are my own as always!
Do you suffer from exam stress? How do you tend to deal with it?
Probably a little bit late in the year for this, as I’m guessing most students will be coming up to their exams (and some lucky people will have finished theirs!) but I thought I’d tell you all how I study best…I’m currently revising like a mad woman for my second year exams, so this post is rather apt!
I will spread out my work around me, either on the floor, or on a large table (I used to have an L-shaped desk at home which was perfect, but sadly that went when my room was redecorated). I’ll work on a module at a time (usually spending a whole day on it) so I’ll have any related text-books or university material (for my Actuarial exams we are given notes from the Profession’s study support – they are amazingly useful, so make the most of any resources you have provided) out, along with my notes, print outs of questions, and enough stationery to stock WHSmiths…
A little note on textbooks – my thrifty self likes to try and avoid buying books (or stick to related ones for 1p on Amazon) but I bought a recommended book for the first time this year and its definitely helped. If you’re struggling with a module I’d recommend it! My top top is to make notes on post-it notes rather than in the book, then you can sell it on for more at the end of the year (I got £75 Amazon credit for my A-level and first year books a few months ago!).
I try to keep complete neat notes throughout the year, then can spend my revision time doing exercise sheets and past exams – for maths students there is nothing better that practice! When doing questions I try to stick to a left-hand ‘column’ on the page so I can write notes down the side, including a model answer when I get things wrong. If the question involves a theorem or definition I’ll also write it in a different colour to try and reinforce the point. I’ll always try to write out questions too, as then I have a clearer idea of why I’m doing what I’m doing…
One of my biggest problems is staying organised, so I use my Filofax to help me with that. I also find that I quite often head out to the library without a pencil case (sooo annoying…I had to pay £4 for a pen on campus once…), so I’d been on the lookout for a thin one to keep in the tiny pen loop in my Filofax. I was kindly sent this stunning Pink Gold Parker Pen* (£59.00, Pen Heaven) a few weeks ago, and I adore it. Its the perfect colour, and nicely weighted (not heavy, but not light like your basic biro either!), and writes amazingly smoothly. There’s no chance of this being left behind, I love it! I don’t use it for everyday notes as I love erasable ink far too much, but for just about everything else I’m using it. I’m really looking forward to using it at work next year – its so professional looking, but still feminine. Can’t you tell I’m in love with this pen?! Revision is sending me mad…
So, my top tips for revision?
Stay organised throughout the year, so its not a mad rush at the end to work out what you should have learnt!
Have a clear plan of what you want to do each day, but make sure it is achievable. Nothing worse than feeling bad because you couldn’t do the 20 past papers you wanted too…
Take regular breaks, and eat healthily, snacking as you go (remember to keep an eye out for the Healthy Snack post as part of my Blogger Link Up!)
Turn off distractions. I turn my wifi/data off on my phone (it also means I don’t need to remember to charge it every night), and have deleted social media apps from my tablet as I still use it for solutions.
Don’t feel bad about saying no. You need to revise, and going out shopping/partying/etc won’t help that – be proud that you are trying to do your best, and don’t be pressured into giving up your time.
Don’t do all-nighters. It’ll muck up your sleeping pattern, and your exams aren’t at night!
But my absolute top tip…?
Don’t give yourself repetitive strain injury (in the wrist of your writing hand) the week before your seven exams start! I’ve managed to either over-do writing (not sure how, as I definitely used to write more when I did essay-subjects for A-Levels) or damage my wrist some other way, and am now struggling to write comfortable for more than 20 minutes at a time. Lets just say I’m a little worried about a three-hour stretch… However, stock up on painkillers and tea (hey, a girl needs restoration fluid!) and invest in a wrist support. Take vitamins regularly before the exam period to keep your immune system running, and generally just take care of yourself – I’ll be sure to the next time I have exams!
Good luck to all readers who have exams, and (if you have time) – how do you revise?
I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m obsessively and unhelpfully organised. I say unhelpfully; when plans change for reasons beyond my control, it kind-of upsets me, and definitely stresses me out! Tonight I’m going to blog all about one of the ways I stay organised – my Filofax.
Filofax’s were really popular way before I was born, in the Eighties. I love the Eighties, I wish I was my age (too close to 20 for my liking!) in that decade. Everything just seems so much simpler, the music was better (I’ve been addicted to Bon Jovi for many years now) and it wasn’t seen as odd to carry a Filofax. I get a few funny looks when I full out my Filofax, and I think that’s a shame. Just imagine how many less people would miss deadlines if they actually wrote them down! That said, I think they are beginning to become more popular. I’ve seen a few around and about, particularly on trains, and I even see a girl on Loughborough University campus jogging with one a few days back…
Back in the “good old days” a sign of popularity was whether your Filofax was stuffed full or not. Nowadays, people are being a lot more creative. If you look on any of Philofaxy’s ‘Web Finds’ post you’ll find many links to other blogs showing their Filofax set ups, complete with bright colours, stickers, washi tape etc. They’re not limited to diaries and business-card-holds – you can buy and make so many different types of inserts, and they’re completely versatile. I currently use mine as a complete organiser, and here it is…
I have a Personal sized Vintage Pink Malden. I agonised for weeks about which Filofax I wanted (it was a gift from my parents in reward for my A-level results). I knew I wanted a Personal sized one (for those who are wondering about sizes, have a look here). Basically, these are roughly the same size as the academic diaries given out yearly by many schools, they aren’t too bulky, but nor are they too small (being a very awkward left-hander, I was conscious I’d struggle to write in anything smaller).
After going and touching them up in Paperchase, Rymans, and pretty much anywhere I could get my hands on them, much to the embarrassment of my other half, I finally decided that I definitely wanted a leather organiser. They’re just softer, and more luxurious. Because lets face it, if you’re a student being offered luxury, grab it with both hands and make the most of it! If you’re just starting out on the ‘getting organised’ route and are not sure you’d use a Filofax, I’d suggest getting a non-leather one, or even an alternative brand, as they are very pricey. After much more stroking and leather smelling, I fell in love with the softness, floppiness and luxury feel of the Maldens. It is such a strokeable (yes I sit and stroke my Filofax…) leather, and it smells so lovely too! I then had to decide about colour. I was deeply tempted by the Ochre colour, but in the end the girliness inside me won. Vintage Pink it was. The colour is ridiculously hard to photograph, I’ve seen nothing which has managed it, but I’m hoping the following photo shows it off reasonably well:
I apologise for the quality of all of these photographs – my university accommodation attracts a lot of sunlight in the evening, and I also wanted to use as much natural light as possible as I often find colours distort under artificial light.
Inside my Malden there is a lot of pockets and card slots – perfect for someone who likes to stay as organised as me. I keep all of my bank, and loyalty cards inside, as well as ID and stamps. Anything I might need in fact! The zipped pocket holds spare change, and emergency £5, and a memory stick.
Although you can’t really tell from my photos, the fifth ring down is misaligned. Not hugely, but enough to make my pages catch and be annoying. I’m not too sure what to do about it though!
Skipping to the back of my Filofax now. Built in there are two large pockets, and a pen loop at the back. The top (horizontal opening) pocket is one that is used a lot. It is the perfect size for my passport, and also houses a pen and usually a Filofax holepunch. It is very significant that the pocket houses the pen – the pen loop on my Malden is actually fully closed up – if you push a pen through it can’t go through as there is an ‘end’ to the loop. This is clearly a fault, but as you can’t get hold of these Filofaxes anymore, its a problem I again don’t know how to address! The pen I use is a black Pilot Frixion – one of those erasable ones. I use these all the time, apart from for coursework and exams. I love them, they don’t smudge from my (dodgy leftie) handwriting, don’t bleed through, and last a reasonably long time. Well about a week, but I do use them a lot. Next year I hope to use some of the coloured ones to make my Filofax a little bit more organised, but I couldn’t fit them in the budget for this year. The holepunch I have is a WHSmiths branded one. Its fiddly and difficult to use – I’m definitely in the market for a more sturdy one, preferably one that punches A5 filofaxes too. Any ideas?
To up the storage in my Filofax, I make good use of the card holder inserts that came included, and I also bought two zip pocket inserts from Paperchase. I use the extra card holders for business cards, and cards I don’t use as often as the ones in the front. Inside the zip-pockets goes receipts, and vouchers. You can see a Golden Ticket in the following picture – this is the voucher I received from my other half for Christmas, and entitled us to an afternoon of Chocolate making at a shop in Loughborough (review to follow I think!). I also keep some painkillers in my Filofax, just for sudden migraines.
So, now you’ve explored the actual physical features of my Filofax, it’s time to take you inside and show you how I use it.
I use it mainly as a diary/organiser. For this, at the moment, I am still using the original inserts that came with the Filofax – week to view. This doesn’t work particularly well for me. At the start of the academic year, I was really organised and colour-coded everything. As is very clear from the photos, I got bored of this, and instead it now contains a lot of scribbles, and a lot less writing. I’ll definitely aim to use it a little more next year – hopefully with some more suitable inserts. The best I’ve seen are on Philofaxy, but I don’t have a good enough printer so I’d be looking for someone to print and send them to me for a bit of payment – not sure who to approach about that, definitely something to look into over the summer! I ideally want something a little like the undated planners, but with only half a page per day, and less note-taking space.
As you can see, my Filofax definitely got more bare as the year went on, and I think the main reason for that is the setup just wasn’t right for me – definitely need to change my planner style!
Next is an insert which does get a lot of use – a horizontal year planner. I got mine from WHSmiths, as I prefer the layout and font. Plus its cheaper, particularly as there’s no shipping costs. I use this to record term dates, deadlines, exams, breaks, boyfriend visits, holidays, rent payments, pay-days, work commitments. I have to be intelligent in how I note things in, as the space is very small. I also use the back (note spaces separated by month) to jot down train times relating to that month.
I then also have a ‘weekly’ section in my Filofax. This is homemade, using a Philofaxy template, and involves a physical copy of my university timetable. This year I used a bright pink paper, I’m going to tone it down a bit next year!
I love this layout, as it shows when my free periods are, when I’m busy at the weekend, work commitments (which change weekly due to my wonderfully flexible job), visits to the boyfriend, lecture venues, and just about everything. I don’t include deadlines though. I’m not sure whether I will continue this for next year, though, as my lecture timings get more complicated (so there’s won’t be enough timeslots), and my university does have a very good system and so my timetable is synced seamlessly onto my phone calender. I will look for another type of weekly planner though. Or maybe a monthly one. I just feel something a bit more detailed than my yearly one would be a good idea.
A quick note about dividers. I still use the ones that came with the Filofax (the lovely cotton cream ones), although the A-Z ones are currently hiding in a drawer somewhere. I don’t use them in any particular way – their headings don’t match up to the contents, but I know where things are. I may cover them with a nice cream or plain-ish pattern over summer, and just use them unlabelled.
I then have a Finance section. At the beginning of the year, I used Filofax’s standard finance inserts, but it got very confusing. Plus to look at my sorry empty balance was getting a little depressing. So I gave up and just relied on my internet banking. I do however keep a note of what I’m spending any physical cash on, as I find otherwise I’d spend it here, there and everywhere.
I keep a section full of To Do List inserts. These are from Paperchase, and I really, really, really dislike the border – I’ll definitely splash out on nicer ones for next year as they really annoy me, and the paper feels so cheap and scratchy. But they do the job I suppose. (the following shows a typical fortnightly shop for me).
Finally, I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite things about the Filofax brand. If you register your Filofax, and put it’s unique code on a sheet which comes with every Filofax, then if you lose it, and if someone finds it, they can contact Filofax with this code, it will be returned to you and they will receive a free gift. I recommend every Filofax owner registers theirs, as I know I’d be devastated if I lost mine!
I’ve had my Filofax for around 9 months now, and its hardly worn at all. There’s the few issues (rings and pen loop) that I have pointed out, and it also arrived with a dent on the front. But you can rarely get hold of these now, so I’m prepared to put up with it. I really do love it – the perfect way to look smart, but a little pretty, unique and slightly vintage-y, and stay organised.
And so that’s my Filofax. And one of the reasons why I should have been a student in the eighties. That and my hair would have fitted in a little bit better than it does now!
If you liked this blog post, feel free to check out this, and this.