Resitting exams isn’t exactly an ideal summer activity, but it really isn’t the end of the world either. Mistakes happen, and in any case it’s a learning curve.
To give yourself the best chance of smashing your resit(s) out of the park, you should make sure you’re healthy and feeling positive.
Here are our suggestions on how to approach that.
Stock Up on the Brain Foods
Our diets have a huge influence on our perceived physical health, and also on our mental health - including our brain performance.
When you’re stressed and you have to knuckle down and get through some work - such as revising topics for resits - it’s tempting to opt for junk foods and drinks. Less time prepping food equals more time studying, right? Yes, but the quality of the fuel you’re putting into your body will limit your ability to absorb and retain the information.
Some great brain foods and drinks to fill your cupboards with:
Blackcurrants and blackberries - Full of antioxidants. Chuck them in the blender with a banana and some milk, or scatter them over some Greek yogurt, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, nutritious breakfast!
Coffee (the proper stuff!) - Chances are you’ve already discovered this one. Proper coffee (not the instant granules that smell and taste more like Weetabix than anything else) will put a natural spring in your step and aid your digestion. The best kind of energy drink there is! It’s not expensive, either: you can buy a bag of pre-ground coffee for as little as £1.50 in the supermarket, so get yourself a cafetiere (or an AeroPress) and Bob’s your uncle!
Dark chocolate - This one might be an acquired taste to begin with, but dark choc is a great food to get into. It has antioxidant properties and boosts your immune system, and it’s a perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee.
Leafy greens - Much less boring than they sound, there is loads you can do with green vegetables. Do bear in mind that they lose some of their nutrients if you overcook them - so stir-fries and salads are ideal.
We could go on all day. Just try to avoid processed foods as much as you can, because they’re full of additives and refined sugars that will only set you up to crash. Of course, what you eat is ultimately up to you!
Run, Cycle, Practise Yoga - Get Some Sort of Exercise
As well as keeping your body healthy and your mind sharp, a little bit of exercise can help you relieve some of the stress you’re no doubt feeling about resitting exams.
Everyone has a different sport or physical activity that works best for them. If you’re lucky, you’ll have several.
Running, cycling and swimming are physically demanding sports that you can partake in all on your own, giving you the chance to really blow off some steam and get some headspace, but other activities such as yoga and just a good brisk walk can be equally beneficial.
Don’t feel like you have to persevere with an activity that you dislike doing, because that might only make you feel even more stressed out. Be honest with yourself.
Okay, so, up to now we’ve advised eating healthily and getting some exercise. However, you should continue to do things that you get pleasure out of. An all-day Netflix binge won’t do you any harm (as long as you do get your studying done as well), nor will an impromptu takeaway one Friday or Saturday night - or, screw it, even midweek!
Go and see a film at the cinema and take one of those enormous Cokes in with you; buy yourself a new pair of jeans or trainers; get a Frappuccino from Starbucks on a hot day (or a cold one, for that matter!). These little treats are what keep us going sometimes.
Take Regular Breaks
Yes, you do have an exam (or maybe several) to resit and ace, but you don’t want to burn yourself out.
Some people like to take a 15-minute break between each hour of study. Some people like to do half an hour on, half an hour off. We aren’t going to prescribe any particular formula for you, because it depends entirely on you. If you’ve not tested these waters before, have a go and see what works for you.
Maybe do a stretch of revision and then watch an episode of Stranger Things or whichever series you’re on at the moment. Or read a chapter of your book. Make a sandwich (and eat it, obv.).
The bottom line: don’t punish yourself.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Eating healthily and exercising will only have a limited effect if you’re not getting your eight hours of shuteye each night (maybe it’s seven or nine for you).
Maybe avoid exercising late at night, because you might have the post-workout buzz for hours afterwards. Same goes for coffee: a good cut-off point is around 6 p.m., otherwise you might be lying in bed wide awake till the wee hours.
If early nights aren’t your style, at least try to get one on the eve of the exam itself. By 10 p.m. the night before your resit, you should theoretically be done and dusted, ready to go. If not, there isn’t much you can do about it by that point!
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