OCD · School & OCD

Coping With OCD and Exams

So that looming time of the year is nearly upon us again, which for students, can really only mean one thing…exams. Now exams can cause a lot of stress within themselves to almost everyone who takes them. The pressure from teachers to revise their subjects individually just that little bit more, the countless revision lectures being given from all angles and the number of weeks being until the exams being drilled into you no matter what the circumstance. So to sum it up, its pretty stressful period of time for the majority of people. What can cause further complications is having the added stresses of OCD, anxiety, depression ect, which don’t always coincide with exams very well. Making an already stressful time of year, a thousand times worse. What I really want to stress is that you should never put yourself down for worrying about a certain set of exams. I’m sure we’re all guilty of looking back on our old exams and wondering why on earth we stressed because the exams that we’re taking now are so much harder, and so why were we being so pathetic back then. Please don’t do this to yourself or others. It only adds more unnecessary stress to your current exam situation, as often time is spent worrying what people in a higher level of education will think at you stressing at your current exam tier. Whether you’re takings SAT’s, GCSE’s, A-Levels, Degrees or PhD’s, they will all mean a lot to you at the time. People doing A-Level may look back on people currently doing GCSE’s and laugh because what they’re doing is so much more difficult. When in reality, at that moment in time last year, they were probably stressing just the same. It all has to be looked at in perspective.
I’ve tried to compile a list of tips and tricks that may help you during the exam season. Now the majority of these aren’t going to be anything fun because, well, exams just aren’t fun, but I hope these help in some way…Quick side note – these tips may not work for everyone, but they can definitely be adapted or changed depending. Also if you have any tips that have helped you over the years, feel free to add them as a comment and I’ll add them to my post as a ‘submitted by you’ section.

1. Keep Track Of Time

As soon as you know your exam dates, write them down. It’s scary how fast the weeks can pass and before you know it you’ve only got a few weeks left before your exam, when you were sure that the last time you checked you had a least a few months. Try to actively keep an eye on the calendar, not to the point that it’s obsessive and its freaking you out, just every once in a while so that you can ground yourself with where you are within your revision and what you need to pick up on in terms of subject prioritisation.

2. Organise With Folders

Now if you’re anything like me, you tend to somehow accumulate many different sheets of information regarding each subject throughout your course. If you think about it, with the many different subjects being studied, that can accumulate to a lot and I mean a lot of loose sheets…which I all too often misplace. So to combat this and to make each subject more easily accessible and not as cluttered, just use some simple cardboard folders to place all your work in and label them. That way, you have less of a chance of loosing vital information and it’ll just make things a lot easier for you than having everything bunched together.

3. Mindmaps

Mindmaaaappppsss. Okay, I have a thing with mindmaps. Some people may hate them, but I think they’re a great revision tool. All the important information can be condensed down into facts situated all on a few pages of A4 making it look a lot less daunting than having a book full of paragraphs. Again, this is only my personal preference, but I just thought I’d stick that in here.

4. Extra Classes Do Make A Difference

Now I know the prospect of staying back after school is really unappealing, but sometimes those extra hours spread out over several weeks can really make a big difference. (Wow I’m sounding like some sort of teacher, I’m so sorry. xD) If there are extra revision sessions held that aren’t compulsory, I still would highly recommend going. Often these classes can be a lot smaller and so you can access more help in the areas of the specific subject that are needed.

5. Do Not Isolate!

What can often happen when all life seems to consist of is revision and exams is that we tend to isolate ourselves. However, this can become extremely detrimental to our wellbeing. Take time out of your day to do something for you. Whether that be sport, reading, art or watching your favourite TV show, all are still important aspects in your life whilst exams are going on. If we systematically remove all the things that make us happy during exam season then it’s just going to make everything 1000x more dull than it already is. Self care during exams is vital, which brings me onto my next tip…

6. Have Support In Place

Schedule therapy appointments. Make sure you have someone to talk to during this period of time. If possible, plan these things in advance to your exams. Things can get extremely stressful and often we end up bottling things up, which is going to make revising and the whole exam experience a lot more difficult. Heck, it’s going to make life in general more difficult. Try to pick one or two people who you can go to when things are getting tough and you need someone to help support you. This could be a parent, a friend, a therapist, an online support group, a helpline, anyone who you feel comfortable taking too. As stated in the previous tip, we should really try not to isolate ourselves. It’s a slippery slope, but one that if you do find yourself slipping down, is totally reclimbable.

Soo, that’s a few of my tips. Hopefully it was somewhat helpful?! Good luck to everyone who is going to be doing exams over the next few months, breath and try your absolute best. What will be, will be and don’t forget to treat yourself once you’ve completed an exam/when they’re all finished! We got this.

Hope you’re all well.

-Ellen

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7 thoughts on “Coping With OCD and Exams

  1. This is a great post with a lot of helpful information. My exam week is next week and i have been stressing a lot. I will definitely keep these tips in mind. I have a question on what mindmaps are though, i have never heard of that before. I completely agree that perspective and organization and keeping track of time are some of the most important parts of coping with exam stress.

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    1. I’m glad this helped you! Mindmaps are a mixture of drawings and text to help you remember information. So I use A4 sheets of paper and fill it with all the information I need, with coloured bubbles around each subsection. If that makes sense? 🙂 I wish you the best of luck for your exams and hope they go as well as possible!

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