Staying focused during exam season

With exam season on its way it can feel like a mountain of work is on the horizon. Not only do you have books to read and past papers to practice but you might also be thinking about what you are going to be doing when the exams are over, be it summer job, internship or graduate job. And then there is Twitter, Facebook and increasingly nicer weather to distract you. I asked our staff for their top tips on how to stay focused and calm during this busy period:

‘Be realistic about your goals and what you can achieve in a set time’ Gill

Whether it’s studying or job hunting, you need to stay motivated. Setting targets that you fail to reach will only make you feel deflated. Instead, set achievable goals and deadlines that will help maintain your momentum. Drawing up a realistic schedule will help you stay on track.

‘During revision period, take 15 mins out of your day to do one thing that’s careers related. It’ll be a break from your revision and will mean that by then end of exams you’ll have clocked up several hours’ worth of Careers activity and you’ll feel a whole lot better.’ Sue

Here are three ideas of what you can do in 15 minutes:

  • Look at internship and job opportunities on QRecruit.
  • Set up a LinkedIn profile, or refresh the one you have.
  • Watch a TED talk to inspire you.
  • Have a Careers appointment (ok, this one is actually 20 minutes but still worth while!)

‘Come and talk to us about making a job hunting plan’ Katherine

Even if you have limited time now to devote to thoughts about your career, creating a plan for what to do after exams will help you feel organised and alleviate the pressure.

‘Treat yourself! Factor time into your schedule to do something other than work. And build in a break before you go to sleep’ Heather

Doing nothing but work for days on end will only lead to exhaustion and poor performance in exams/interviews. Having a break refreshes your mind making you concentrate better when you do return to work. If you work right up until bed time too, you will find it hard to fall asleep. Instead, do something relaxing for the last hour or so before you want to sleep so that you mentally start to switch off.

‘Figure out whatever it is that makes you procrastinate…and stop it’ Novlet

If you find yourself being distracted by twitter debates and quizzes on which Mr Men character you are, try enforcing ‘no social media’ time periods during your day. Put your phone on silent or give it to a friend to hold for you. Turn off your computer and work with pen and paper. Or go somewhere where you can’t connect to wifi. And if you find the temptation of TV and DVDs are too tempting at home, make an effort to work in the library or a café.

And remember, there is lots of help available from Queen Mary to get you through this busy period. The Mile End Library, the Student’s Union and Advice and Counselling all have services and events during the exam period to help distract, relax and support you.


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