Friday, 5 June 2020

Getting Through Online Exams

Mariam shares her experience of studying for her university online exams. She goes through her approach to tackle procrastination, get through exams and practising self-care.


- Mariam Ali


With the current situation, I find myself consumed in either the news, my family or enjoying the weather outside (in my garden). This makes it difficult to focus on my exams. As with many universities, my exams have moved online. Working and doing exams from home is tough, with more distractions around us and our body feeling as if it’s in ‘holiday mode’. This is a strange but common situation that I and many university students find themselves in. A big change for certain, meaning I had to also change my approach to studying in order to get through this online exam period. Here are some of the ways I came up to overcome my procrastination.

1. Eat, Sleep and Repeat 
This is what my typical day looked like at the start of lockdown. Sometimes I still slip back into this routine which is normal – it is good to have a day off! Though I was having the time of my life, reality hit; I would need to start studying as my online exams were fast approaching. I jotted down a realistic timetable to ease myself back into studying. I started off with 30 minutes of studying a day and slowly increased the time length to how long I felt comfortable with. I made sure to balance this with time for myself and time to hang out with my family. Getting this balance was essential so I didn’t feel the need to procrastinate.

2. Big Task, Little Task 
Studying feels like an overwhelmingly enormous pile of work that you must somehow trudge through. Looking at everything I had to do made me feel even more stressed and demotivated to get started. However, here is the trick to conquer this– split a huge topic into manageable chunks. This is effective because I felt motivated to do smaller tasks because they were quicker to complete. Once I finished one task, I felt accomplished and in the right mindset to begin the next one on my list.

3. To Do a Little or to Do a Lot 
Whether you do tonnes of work or just a little – that is great! Being productive in lockdown is a journey so do not feel you aren’t doing enough because every step you take is a step further. I have great days and not so great days, but I make sure to appreciate whatever I did, so be proud of that question you tried or the flashcard you had a look at. It is important to do what is best for you - everyone is different and stays productive for different lengths of time. Don’t overwork or compare yourself to what others are doing!

4. Study Buddies 
Sometimes, I feel demotivated to get straight into studying and find myself doing everything under the sun except studying. I decided to change things up and video chat/ call my friends to see how they were doing. We ended up having a productive group study session whilst also having a laugh. Working in this way kept it light and fun that I even forgot I’m getting some actual work done.

5. Pour yourself a cuppa
With so much uncertainty around, the current situation can seem daunting and absorb most of our attention. We forget to take care of ourselves in the process! I cannot stress how important it is to put our health and wellbeing first. We have the stress of doing well in exams and the difficulty of focusing which makes us even more stressed. Take time out for yourself in order to break this cycle. It will help you get into a better mind frame.

Finally, remember we are studying whilst a pandemic is going on, so whatever you do be proud of yourself. Good luck and remember we CAN get through this together!

For more information about managing stress during the pandemic and online exams, please see these resources from Student Minds here. 


Hi, my name is Mariam and I am a university student studying Biology. I felt passionate about sharing my experience of studying for online exams which I know many other students can relate to. By sharing the realities, I hope you find comfort in knowing you aren't alone in this. We can get through it, step by step.

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