The return of exams: tips to keep calm this assessment season


By Isobel Edmondson, Second Year, Theatre and French

The Croft Magazine // With exams and deadlines fast-approaching, Isobel considers the best ways to deal with the unique stresses of online assessments, and reminds us that we are not alone.

If, like the majority of us, you struggled with the online January assessments this year, you might not exactly be looking forward to the summer ones which are now just around the corner. I especially feel for those in their final year whose degree classifications potentially depend on what they produce this year.

While some issues are out of our hands and perhaps need to be dealt with by the uni, here are some suggestions of how we can make the next few (hopefully sunnier) months more bearable for ourselves.

Feeling detached can get in the way of studying: try video calling a friend while working to minimise feelings of isolation | Epigram / Isobel Edmondson

Find a study buddy

Over the Christmas break, I felt quite detached from uni as I was no longer in my bubble of Bristol uni students, which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. I found that it was more difficult to hold myself accountable when I knew I was procrastinating (I’ll blame lockdown for my TikTok addiction) and since one of my housemates felt the same, we decided to call on Zoom and work ‘together’ as we normally would in Bristol.

For the most part, our mics were off, but just having each other there reminded us that we weren’t alone and it made our tasks less daunting. I would recommend having your camera on so that you can both see when the other gets distracted, and taking breaks to chat without going on your phone so that you remain somewhat in the zone.

Taking time away

As someone who nearly always has a to-do list etched in the back of my mind, I should take my own advice on this one. It is easy to become fixated on one specific task and let it take over your life, especially if you left something a bit late, but I believe that taking one whole day here and there to shut your laptop and do something completely different can only be beneficial.

‘Taking a whole day here and there to shut your laptop and do something completely different can only be beneficial’ | Epigram / Isobel Edmondson

If you feel that your mental health and academic performance go hand-in-hand, disconnecting from the academic part of yourself can allow you to view whatever you were working on with fresh eyes. The most important thing to remember, in my opinion, is that even if a source of your sense of achievement in life is academia, you are not what you produce at university. Time outside of your studies is just as valuable, in the present and in the long-run.

Create the right atmosphere

I find tasks like essay writing much less tedious with music. In fact, it can really help with motivation. Music with lyrics is too distracting for a lot of people, so I recommend classical instrumental playlists, lo-fi or house, depending on your tastes.

You may be surprised by the types of music that you find helpful to study to | Epigram / Isobel Edmondson

I was surprised to find that house could help me focus, so if you find that slower music makes you a bit sleepy, I’d recommend looking for something a little more upbeat to wake you up. If you are lucky enough to have a decent desk and chair, make the most of this space and try not to let your phone into this space.

Likewise, you’ve probably heard that bringing your work to bed is not a good idea as each space needs to be associated with a different area of your life.

While this is easier in theory than in practice, it could be the little switch you needed to improve the work-life balance that is so hard to attain during these times.

Well done for what you have already achieved and good luck!

Featured image: Epigram / Isobel Edmondson