How to stay motivated during exam season?

Mia Ainsley

With exam season in full swing, you may find yourself losing motivation or procrastinating more than usual. This is completely normal, so don’t be hard on yourself! If you feel like you need some inspiration to get back on track, then this could be a useful place to start. In this blog, I aim to share with you some of my top tips for staying motivated during that mid-exam slump.

Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself

I remember in school when I was doing my GCSEs, I always felt guilty whenever I took a break. I constantly compared myself to other students, forever assuming that they would be doing more than me which made me reluctant to take some much needed ‘me time’. However, since being at university and gaining a lot more experience with exams I have come to realise that having breaks and continuing to do activities which I enjoy actually makes me more productive. I seem to complete work and retain knowledge a lot quicker when I am having fun doing other things too. Equally, it is much more calming for my mind to work when it knows that something familiar is just around the corner. Whether it be as simple as reading a book or going to the cinema, it is amazing what a positive impact that can have on my mindset whilst working.

Work out when is best for your motivation

Not everyone works best at the same time. Personally, I like waking up early so that my work can be done by the afternoon, and I can enjoy my evenings completely free. However, if you do not work productively at that time then there is no point forcing yourself to wake up at 6am and work just because you think it is the right thing to do. It would be much better to have a good sleep and find the optimal time where your mind and body is most productive so that you can be efficient with your work. This could also help you to retain knowledge quicker.

Set yourself achievable targets

This is another tip that I have learnt the hard way! When I was in school, I would set myself impossible missions like revising the entire Biology specification in two hours and it simply was not helpful. It left me feeling unsatisfied, even less motivated, when I could not even finish the first chapter. Setting unrealistic goals can make you feel underwhelmed, deflated, and disappointed which can prevent you from studying effectively. If you design manageable targets which suit your individual working pace, then you will probably feel more motivated to stick to your schedule in the future.

Reward yourself – you deserve it!

Treating yourself during exams is so important. Whether this be buying yourself your favourite dessert after each exam or allowing yourself a day off at the weekend to do what you love, all these things can be beneficial to your mindset. Remind yourself of all the incredible things you have to look forward to post-exams. In my experience, not only does it make the entire process a lot more pleasant, but it helps you to keep on top of motivation and reduce procrastination to a minimum.

I hope that my tips were helpful for you and if you are sitting exams now, or in the future, good luck! You can do this!

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Mia Ainsley


Hi! I am Mia, a third year Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC) student at Durham University. From the north east & a very proud member of Josephine Butler College. When I am not studying for my degree, you can probably find me taking part in some of Durham's societies. I am one of the project coordinators for MLAC Outreach society, a member of the 93% club and hoping to join yoga soon too!


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