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The Essential Guide to Surviving Exams at University

Updated: Feb 14

Exam Survival Guide: How to Not Fail at University and Still Have a Life during Exam Season!

Surviving exams at university can be a daunting task, but with the right mindset and by following our guide, you can ace your exams and come out on top. Whether you're a first year student or a final year student, planning for exams is an important and stressful part of university life. But as overwhelming as exams can seem, you're not alone. In this guide, we'll explore some effective strategies for exam preparation, tips and achievable study goals to help you in surviving and excelling at your exams at university.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below to help you prepare for your exams.

Whether it's about the exam format, revision techniques, or time management, there are plenty of resources available to help you. In this guide, we'll answer some of the most common questions students have about surviving exams at university.

Planning for exam success is crucial in preparing both your mindset and your revision technique. Get a weekly task planner, like the one we have curated in our Member Resources (Ultimate bundle or Uni Companion bundle) to help you schedule regular study periods.

By setting yourself achievable goals, and breaking down topics into manageable chunks, you will make a huge difference to revising effectively, and boost your confidence to succeed.

The other benefit to scheduling your revision sessions is that by planning ahead, you will avoid last-minute cramming sessions and reduce your stress levels, giving you the confidence you need to tackle your exams head-on.

Planning for Exam Success

Ah, the dreaded exam season!

The time of year when your stress levels skyrocket, you quadruple your caffeine intake, and your social life reluctantly has to take a back seat. But don't worry, with a little bit of efficient planning, you will excel at surviving your exams at university and succeed with your sanity (mostly) intact.

Just think how many students have done this before you!
If they can do it - so you can you!

Creating The Perfect Timetable

Creating a revision schedule is a great way to stay organised and focused. But don't just throw together a random plan and then forget about it. Take the time to create a timetable that works for you.

Figure out your study habits, your best focus and energy levels throughout the day, and then other commitments.

And don't forget to schedule in breaks - you need to give your brain a chance to rest. Go for a walk, clear your head, take a shower, have a snack. Give yourself a few minutes away from the books to recharge.

It's All A Balancing Act

Amazon Prime logo

Finding the right balance between studying and taking care of yourself is crucial during exam season.

Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting some exercise.

And don't forget to take breaks - whether it's going for a walk, catching up with friends, or indulging in a little Amazon Prime binge.

Procrastination: The Unwanted Friend

We all know that procrastination is the enemy of productivity.

But sometimes, it's just so tempting to put off studying in favour of scrolling TikTok or watching cat videos on YouTube!

If you're struggling to stay focused, try using the Pomodoro technique - set a timer for 25 minutes and work solidly for that focus period, then take a 5-minute break and repeat.

Apps to the Rescue

There are plenty of apps out there to help you stay organised and focused during exam season. From revision planners to study timers, there's something for everyone.

Try Forest or Flora – both these apps are amazing (not sponsored!).

Exam Season Kitchen

What you eat during exam season can have a big impact on your performance. While it might be tempting to survive on a diet of coffee and junk food, it won’t do you any favours in the long run.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg, and drinking plenty of water. And don't forget to treat yourself occasionally - a little bit of chocolate can go a long way.

We have a great meal planning tool in our Uni Companion or Ultimate Bundle in Member Resources, to help you plan your meals and choose from a wide range of snacks you'll love.

A healthy wholemeal sandwich
Choose a healthy snack over sugar to avoid the spikes then slumps in your energy levels

Subject Savvy

Different subjects require different approaches to studying.

Tailor your revision to suit the subject you're studying. For example, my daughter used to listen to Latino music when studying for her Spanish exam, or watched French movies and TV shows, to help improve her comprehension.

Location, Location, Location

WHERE you study can have a big impact on your productivity.

Some people work best in complete silence, while others prefer a bit of background noise.

Experiment with different locations - whether it's the library, a coffee shop, or your bedroom - and find what works best for you.

Exam Format Familiarity

Are you familiar with the format of your exams? Are they multiple choice? Essay-based? Practical? Knowing what to expect can help you prepare more effectively.

Your teacher or lecturer should have run through the exam format with you, and hopefully even done practice or past tests to help you know what to expect. Don’t be afraid to email them for advice.

Summer of Success

It might seem like a long way off, but thinking about your summer plans can help you stay motivated during exam season.

Whether you're looking forward to a holiday, an internship, or just some time off, having something to look forward to can help you power through those long study sessions.

A yoga class with adults meditating

Stress-Busting Strategies

Exam season can be incredibly stressful, but there are plenty of strategies you can use to keep your stress levels under control.

Whether it's meditation, exercise, or just taking a few deep breaths, find what works for you and make it a regular part of your routine.

Colourful flashcards as a revision tool

Preparation is Key

The key to exam success is preparation. Make sure you're starting your revision early, setting achievable goals, and staying organised.

And don't forget to ask a friend, a university tutor, or a study group to guide you if you're unsure.

Exam Time Tips

When it comes to preparing for exam day, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success.

Make sure you're well-rested, eat a good breakfast, and arrive at the exam venue with plenty of time to spare.

Read the instructions carefully - you don't want to lose marks because you misread a question. Plan your time to tackle the big point questions, and set yourself a goal to stop, and re-read your submission before handing in.

Post-Exam Celebrations

Once your exams are over, it's time to celebrate! Whether it's a night out with friends or a quiet night in with a good book, make sure you take the time to relax and unwind. You've worked hard, and you deserve it.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I survive on coffee and energy drinks during exam season?

While caffeine and energy drinks might give you a temporary boost, relying on them to survive exam season is not a sustainable or healthy solution. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and other health problems.

Instead, try to maintain a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated with water and other non-caffeinated beverages.

Is it okay to cry in the library during exam period?

What's the best way to avoid distractions while studying for university exams?

Can I bribe my lecturers for a better grade?

How do I convince my parents that pulling an over-nighter is the best way to go before exams?

What's the best way to celebrate the end of exam season without getting kicked out of university?


So there you have it - a few tips to guide you through exam season at university with your sanity (mostly) intact.

Good luck! You've got this!

Now go check out our other blogs for more university life tips:


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