The Don't Panic Guide to Exams


Written by Suzie McCracken
07 Monday 07th May 2012

I don’t know about you, but I’m currently in a world of pain. Not only burdening psychological pain that will result in years of emotional disfigurement, but physical pain from the bruises on my legs that I’m collecting as I absent mindedly walk into stuff in a heady daze. Exams and essay period is the worst, and my eyes that are constantly propped open with the end of my half-eaten pencil can testify to that.

So I decided to compile a guide to getting through these final days that beats the usual leaflet of drivel handed out by university councillors. I’m here to help Don’t Panic readers as best as I can with some tough love and manic honesty. Manic is my default disposition of late.

Ahead of the Game: You’re pretty sorted, just a couple of loose ends to tie up.

Well aren’t you clever. If you’re lucky enough to be in this position, then I salute you. You probably need some help to get those final few sentences squeezed out, right? Well no problem, just create yourself an environment so relaxed and ultimately boring that you’ll have nothing better to do than finish things off. Slap on a facemask so you can’t go outside and fill your room with incense so you can appropriately worship the gods of productivity. You could even use the scent of old books to get you in the mood for making love to that essay.

Just take my word for it and DON’T TALK TO ANYONE. Everyone you know will currently hate you because you’re light years ahead of them, and there’s a couple of phrases that will really rile them. Firstly, DON’T list off what you’ve already accomplished. You will be lynched. Secondly, DON’T say “You’ll get there, I did,” because right now your poor flatmate can’t envision a time when everything will be over. By causing them to visualise this mythical period, you will distract them and they will order a takeaway and cry into it. Finally, DON’T ask if you can do anything for them. Just do it. Make them a surprise cup of tea and deliver it silently. 

You can do it nerdy-pants!

Salvageable: You're not in hell, but you're still going to have to pull a few late nights.

Ok, so this is the point where all that guff you’ve been told is actually valuable. Do attempt to eat well and get some exercise, even if that just involves walking to the shop to get more chocolate.

Also attempt to get some sleep, and to help you on your way I thoroughly recommend downloading f.lux. This handy software gradually changes the look of your computer screen at sunset, adapting its tone from seizure inducing white to warmer hues that mimic the ambience in your room. Not only does this make it easier to sleep after using your computer, it also helps you work later into the evening as your eyes don’t protest so much. However, avoid like the plague if you are any sort of design student.

Also, tidy your room but don’t fall into the trap of taking the victory nap when you finish. I lost a whole day that way.

The Hopeless Case: You're screwed.

Ignore all of the above. Don’t tidy your room, you don’t have time. Writhe around in the garbage, the stench will help you stay awake. Order takeaways and use the boxes as ashtrays. Make your mother ashamed.

Perhaps consider your stance on illegal narcotics – I used to know some people that did a line of speed to get an essay finished. I hated them, but they got OK grades. If you’re keener on a legal high, a number of blogs are directing me to the Wired x505 energy drink. It’s not currently listed as one of their products on their website, but if you can scrounge around the depths of amazon or ebay for this bad boy you’ll be receiving 505mg of caffeine per serving. Red Bull has about 80mg. If you start twitching, you never read this.

Furthermore, it’s probably best to remove all ties, scarves, skipping ropes, knives and screwdrivers from your room just in case the suicidal voice in your head becomes too friendly. I’d say you’re going to be OK, but you probably won’t be. Just make the best of it and when it’s over you can sit on the toilet for a week to flush all the crap out of your system.

Have you any tried and tested exam tips?

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