For us students exams are our Olympic sport. The exam hall is a racetrack, and the pen and paper are our runners. We endure years of tough training, falls, set-backs, and injuries all in the hope of getting our hands on that gold medal, or at least a passing mark.

Once inside that exam hall, pens on their starting blocks at the top of the desk, hearts hammering against our chests, you can feel that athletes’ adrenaline coursing through your veins. Some assessments feel like a race from the second you put pen to paper. A race against the clock and a race for the best grade. Other aspects feel more like a show. We know the routine inside and out, displaying our best tricks and skills. But, what can we do to make training for this race a little less hectic on ourselves? People have sat exams for years and yet no one has a black and white answer, but here are a few simple ideas.

Make Yourself a Plan

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a study plan of how many hours to spend slaving away on each module. While that may work for some, one size does not fit all. I think we can all agree that there are very few feelings worse for students than the realisation that you have a deadline sooner than you expected. So, remember that you are in control. Write out everything you have coming up, every deadline, every assessment, you name it, to help limit any surprises.

Start as Early as Possible

While it is never easy, try your best where you can get ahead early. Any assessment you can start, start it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Breaking the workload down into smaller more manageable chunks can be a great way to make things seem slightly less scary. Even just a small start, is still a start. So that if every student’s enemy, procrastination, rears its head or when you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of deadlines, you can take a breath knowing you have some foundations in place.

Balance is Key

The clocks have gone back, the days are greyer and colder and while we want to enjoy the Christmas season build up, that exam season cloud looms gloomier than the rest. So now more than ever it is vital to take a break and make time for what makes you happy. Reach out to your friends or family. Do something simple that is an escape from the academic pressure. It is so easy to get sucked into the college vortex. Exam time is a very lonely and isolating time for many of us. But balance is key. Spend time outside, exercising, and eating properly too. No exam is ever as important as you. Desperately cramming in late night study sessions in the library or spending every spare moment chained to your desk is not worth what it could cost you. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a tough time for so many of us, so be kind to yourself.

Dress for Success

It’s been a while since many of us have stepped foot in RDS for exams – especially during the winter. RDS tends to be really cold during Christmas exams and shivering through a 2 hour exam is not ideal. Wear layers and bring a good coat. Better to get all these exams out of the way now rather than re-sitting them because you caught a nasty cold.

Ask for Help

Exam season is tough and sometimes people may run into unexpected issues. If you feel like you are unable to complete an assignment, are not prepared for an exam or just can’t get your part of the group project done there are always supports available to you. Your student advisor is available to discuss options for extenuating circumstances or extensions as are your lecturers. You can talk to your academic advisor if you are unsure how to complete an assignment. You can even speak with your representatives in the Students’ Union who can help you or find who will be able to help you. Remember you are not alone and everyone at UCD wants you to succeed so don’t be afraid to ask!

But of course before the big day, don’t forget to nail down the practicalities. Ask yourself these questions:


What exam do I have? What do I need to bring? i.e. pens, calculator, and your UCARD. Don’t forget your UCARD.


When are my exams?


Where is my exam? Is it in the RDS or in an exam centre on campus? Where is my seat for the exam?


How will I get to my exam? Will I drive? Will I get the shuttle from the UCD?

Don’t leave yourself with all these questions on exam day. All exam related things can be found on SisWeb under the “Registration, Fees & Assessment Tab”, so be sure to check it out. Here is also where some students can find their exam accommodations.

Saoirse Wilson – Arts and Lifestyle Correspondent

Additional Reporting: Danielle DerGarabedian – Editor