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Stressed about exams

Dear Annie,
I am so stressed about my AS-levels. I don’t know where to start with my revision and I’ve got to the point when all I do is read the same paragraph over and over again and it still doesn’t make any sense! What should I do?
Cheers, Oscar

Hello Oscar,
Thanks for bringing up this issue and I would like to offer you ideas about learning and the stress it provokes in us.

The first is so basic we often forget about it – how do you learn? Do you know the type of learner you are Oscar? Understanding how you learn most effectively will revolutionise your revision, it really is that simple.

There are three main types of learners: Visual Learners who learn best through pictures, photographs and visual displays; Auditory Learners who learn most through hearing and discussion; or Kinesthetic Learners who are most effective through doing and experiencing.

So, if you are a Visual Learner use Post-it® notes, cue cards, posters, diagrams, flow charts, and spider charts. Mind mapping is also wonderful – just go with the flow of ideas. Use colour to highlight and organise data, and place information, key words and posters at eye level in your room.

If you are an Auditory Learner, have a revision mate to engage in discussion with or do question and answer sessions together. Try using limericks, stories (the ruder they are, the more likely you are to remember them!), rhythm and rap to place the information. Read passages out loud to hear yourself speak, or use your parents to talk it through. Have background music on whilst studying.

For Kinesthetic Learning get involved in group work, role play and games. Write up cards or Post-it® notes to make key points and then move them about into timelines, stick them onto posters, make them yours by building up layers of data;  even make a model! Be physical – try using the coordinating BrainGym workouts by Paul Dennison to help you focus and build in regular planned physical breaks (20 minutes).

We are often a mix of two learning styles, with one being dominant, and they can change and develop over time. There are loads of diagnostic assessments and quizzes out on the web, but your tutors should have a working knowledge of these approaches to learning – so ask!

Once you have got your head round how to learn, your stress levels will drop, but you can still adopt good learning habits of eating and sleeping well, rehydrating regularly, going out at the weekend (not school nights) and planning your revision.

Remember that you are doing these exams for your future, so to motivate yourself, imagine yourself in the future and focus on how to get there.

More than anything consider your friends and family – they can help you through this, so talk with them, laugh with them and as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Think positively and learn happily.

Annie has worked with students for 12 years as both a Humanistic Counsellor and running a College Counselling and Welfare Service. She has a wide experience of supporting students and their parents/ guardians.

If you would like advice from Annie, email dearannie@walpolepublishing.co.uk

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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