7 Ways To Survive Exam Season As A Christian
Today I worked out that I have, rather depressingly, spent the last nine Junes and Julys of my life revising for and sitting exams. All the way from GCSE to MSc exams, I have spent hours (if not days!) revising and using up countless biros, scribbling over a trees-worth of paper and eating a ridiculous amount of comfort food. And after doing exams for so long, I don’t think twice about them. In fact the other day I had to really try hard to even motivate myself to finish writing a paper. But I remember all too clearly the stresses of the exam season and genuinely wondering if there could be a life after Year 11. Fear not. There is. And here’s a few tips to help you get to the other side with your faith intact.
Make sure you take time to relax as it will make all the effort you spend revising more valuable. Do this in whatever way you enjoy; go for a swim, go shopping for a few hours at the weekend, read a book or watch a film. A big part of this is also trying to keep Sunday as a ‘rest’ day when you focus on doing these things to chill as well as spending time with God by going to Church. Talking to people in the ‘real world’ at Church will clear your head and help you to remember that there is a life after exams!
2. Pray together
One of the best ways I found to focus on what was really important during exam season was to commit to meeting with my best friend each morning before an exam and praying together over breakfast. So even if only one of us had the exam we would both get up and make a cup of tea and spend 10 minutes asking God to be with us that day. It strengthened our friendship, forced us to stay calm and helped to keep God at the centre. Why not arrange to do this with a friend or family member?
3. Write a Bible verse at the top of your exam paper
Whilst you’re trying to cram hundreds of authors and dates into your head during your last few days of revision, it might seem backwards to try and memorise a Bible verse as well but it can be really helpful way of keeping your focus as you enter the exam hall. I always found the first 30 seconds of any exam the hardest to deal with; everyone is frantically turning over pages to read the questions and see if the topics they revised have come up. But taking the time to write a Bible reference at the top of your notes page and say a quick prayer for strength and stamina can focus your mind and can help you through the ‘panic’ moments if you look back at it when you’ve lost your train of thought. Here are a few ideas:
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
And my personal favourite:
Colossians 3: 23-24 “ Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”
4. Get a balance
Try and think about the amount of time you’re going to spend on everything each day. When I was at university I knew some people who lived by the 8:8:8 rule. That’s 8 hours sleeping, 8 hours revision and 8 hours of fun every day! That might not work for you but see if you can find a formula for getting a good balance between work and play.
5. Don’t compare yourself to other people
There will always be someone as you’re walking into an exam that thinks it’s really helpful to tell you that they worked for 14 hours yesterday revising for this exam and yet they still don’t feel prepared. They’re lying. What they actually did was sit in front of their laptop for 14 hours, 4 of which they spent revising, 2 more they spent on Skype, 3 they spent of Facebook stalking everyone else who was ‘revising’, another 2 they spent watching CBeebies cartoons on iplayer (or maybe that was just me!) and the last 3 were spent eating junk food to console themselves for all the time they’d wasted when they should have been revising. Do not panic and do not compare yourself to other people. You do your thing and let other people do theirs. Put in all the effort you can and then you’ll know you did your best when the results come.
6. Keep having your quiet times
You might have the prettiest, most highlighted, most organised revision timetable in town but make sure you set aside time each day to read your Bible. It might even be easier to do this in exam time as everything gets a ‘time slot’ but just make sure it’s not the one thing you always leave until tomorrow. Maybe take up a particular daily reading scheme via an app or get it emailed to you so that you don’t forget.
7. Give it back to God
If we truly believe that our calling in life is to glorify God and to become more like Jesus then when results day comes and we open that dreaded envelope/refresh our UCAS page we need to remember a few things. First, we need to know that if our results are deciding what our next steps are e.g. college or university places, then God has got it covered. Second, we need to know that whether we get an A* or an E we need to humble ourselves and give all the glory back to God because he created us and made us for this purpose. Tough but true. And if we start out exam season with this in our minds then we know that the result is always going to be a good one; time spent working for God’s glory and a future with him that is certain regardless of where in life we go next.
This post was written by Bethany Parker who loves nothing more than spending her summer months taking exams!
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