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1 Exams 5: Revise and de-stress 6 th May 2015 Adam Sandelson Neil McLean LSE Student Wellbeing ServiceTLC The format of the Workshop may differ from this.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Exams 5: Revise and de-stress 6 th May 2015 Adam Sandelson Neil McLean LSE Student Wellbeing ServiceTLC The format of the Workshop may differ from this."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Exams 5: Revise and de-stress 6 th May 2015 Adam Sandelson Neil McLean LSE Student Wellbeing ServiceTLC The format of the Workshop may differ from this powerpoint

2 2 Preparing for exams – the last few weeks Neil McLean Teaching and Learning Centre

3 3 Overview Time available Best use of time Resources ‘Team spirit is an illusion created by winning.’ Parker (2009)

4 4 Time available Exam session starts on 14 th May Exams run until 13 th June For an exam on 15 th May, you have 96 working hours (no weekends or evenings) Dividing this up into essay plans, for instance, you could make 68, you probably need to make 12 – 15 to be ready)

5 5 Time available Planning – divide time based on the scheduling of your exams Where possible focus on the next exam in the few days leading up to it In an 8 hour day, break time up into 1.5 hour blocks, working on answering different questions

6 6 Best use of time You need to be good at the exam tasks – these tasks include performance and time (e.g. for 1 hour essays, most people write 800 – 1000 words, therefore an introduction and 4 or 5 paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction answers the question and outlines the argument in support of this answer, each paragraph begins with a clear statement that helps answer the question and combines reference to the literature and other sources to justify and support the main idea of the paragraph in a detailed and convincing manner.)

7 7 Best use of time Complete and practise exam tasks, using texts / lecture notes etc. as you get stuck Look to produce answers that Show you can think (answer the question) Show you’ve done the reading (references / context) Show expertise (detailed knowledge, real world context or use, locate the debate etc.)

8 8 Resources Each other – read each others essays, try the same questions and talk through the solutions (good end of day task) Revision sessions – examiner’s mindset, marking preferences etc. Office hours – take answers / plans rather than questions of detail

9 9 Exam Psychology Practical techniques for revision and exams Common psychological issues Stress management skills Adam Sandelson LSE Student Counselling Service

10 10 Part 1 Techniques for dealing with revision and exams

11 11 Revising well Don’t compare yourself to others Work out your own schedule, be flexible if necessary Explore ways/ places to work Don’t be obsessive! Talk to others, ask for help

12 12 Time and Targets Set realistic and achievable goals Break down huge tasks Short term targets and longer term strategies Recognise short term achievements Revise study skills, time management skills

13 13 Focussing on the task Concentrate on the task, not the outcome Remember past successes Recognise you are likely to pass Be methodical, and allow time for breaks and space to breathe and think Use mind maps, scribble ideas Go for a walk, talk out loud

14 14 On the day of the exam Don’t cram, sleep Relax, visualize it being OK Read the question Sketch out thoughts, mind map Plan answers Keep notes for later questions After – avoid show-offs

15 15 Part 2 Psychological Issues in approaching revision and exams – Family Dynamics Procrastination Perfectionism Change

16 16 Underlying dynamics The family / historic context for your success, eg keeping the family together Trying to please others Wanting to be the best Setting yourself impossible targets Repeating past anxiety, trauma, failure …

17 17 Dynamics of study, work, life... Past relationships Relationship with LSE or exams or or work or … Current relationships

18 18 ………Procrastination Putting off tasks Anxiety, stress, guilt, shame Disguise avoidance by being busy We may find things to do that are interesting or even useful, but don't contribute towards the main goal

19 19 Why do we procrastinate? time management inability to prioritise, task overload Anxiety/ boredom fear of failure/ success perfectionism all-or-nothing thinking

20 20 Overcoming revision blocks Stop new reading if this is avoidance make notes, summarize ideas, list key quotes… Practice questions Practice drafting bullet points Break work down into chunks Take a break/sleep on it/talk to someone Talk to the computer or your hand? Acknowledge your procrastination!

21 21 Challenge perfectionism Perfectionism can reduce achievement. Experiment with your standards for success try for 80% or even 60% Focus on the process of doing an activity not just the end result evaluate success in terms of what you accomplished and whether you enjoyed the task Challenge ‘all or nothing’ thinking

22 22 Thinking about life after LSE Not everyone knows what they want to do afterwards - it’s OK to wait Transition and change are stressful Going home Losing Social Network How to keep in touch with others Preparing for work; the Rat Race

23 23 Preparing for change Don’t deny endings Be willing to say goodbye Don’t obsess too much about endings Remember that endings are part of life

24 24 Part 3 Review your Stress Management Skills

25 25 Stress Management Skills Regularly switch off Good self care – sleep, diet, caffeine, alcohol, physical activity Time management Take regular mini- breaks to relax Breathing or relaxation exercises Allow yourself time out without guilt Anxiety is normal – don’t deny it!

26 26 Cognitive Strategies Challenge negative thinking Distract yourself from negative thoughts Difficulties and setbacks can be good for learning and personal growth? Tolerate not knowing – try to see shades of grey, not black and white!

27 27 Challenging negative thoughts Apply ‘Socratic reasoning’ or imagine this being tested in a Court of Law Identify the negative thought Eg, I am going to fail all my exams Ascertain the evidence For and Against Ask if you are making a ‘thinking error’ Propose a more reasonable alternative thought

28 28 Thinking errors All or nothing thinking Discounting the positive Only seeing the negative side of things Over - generalizing because it happened in the past it will happen again in the future Catastrophising Emotional Reasoning If I feel it then it must be true

29 29 Part 4 What sources of advice and help are available?

30 30 Sources of advice and help Academic Adviser/ Departmental staff TLC Learning World Website Student Services Centre Deans Don't wait until problems have grown impossibly large! Student Union and Advice Centre Medical Centre Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor Disability and Wellbeing Office

31 31 Further resources Learning World - See powerpoints on: Exams 1: Planning and Preparation Exams 2: Last Minute Preparations and Sitting the Exam Exams 3: Using Past Exam Papers Exams 4: Quantitative Exam Preparation Student Counselling Service website See powerpoints/ video podcasts on: Good Writing Psychology Overcoming Perfectionism Overcoming Procrastination

32 32 LSE Student Counselling Service Free and confidential Mainly offers short term counselling Appointments need to be booked in advance See Website for Stress management handout Self help resources on study – related and personal difficulties Relaxation MP3’s

33 33 Final thoughts Focus on the task, not the outcome Transition can be stressful, but also allows us to grow as a person Imagine looking back in 5 years Talk to others (if not yourself)

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