Young girl sits at desk with a pile of books

The summer break is over and for most 5th and 6th year pupils prelim exams await. 

We've come up with some tips to help you take the stress out of studying. 

1. Make a study plan

Before you start, make yourself a good study plan. Prioritise your time according to which exams are coming up first and which subjects you need to revise the most for. The SQA website has lots of information on how to make a good study plan.

2. Lose the distractions

Make sure that you’re working somewhere quiet and that your desk is free of clutter. Turn off your phone and unless you really need the internet for research, disable the connection.

3. Do one thing at a time

If you think of all the different exams you need to study for, you’ll freak out and get nothing done.  Focus on one task, see it through to the end and don’t go back and forth between different subjects.

‘I leave my mobile in another room so it doesn’t distract me.’
Katie, 17, Cleveden Secondary School

4. Use props

Writing things down will help you to remember important information. Cue cards are a great way to memorise facts or equations and mind maps can be good for planning an essay. Past exam papers are a great tool and they’re available on the SQA website.

5. Food for thought

Just like a physical workout your brain needs the right food to fuel that mental marathon. Make sure you’re eating healthy snacks throughout the day and not just surviving on junk food and stress.

6. Keep things short

Don’t study all day. You’ll only get tired and distracted. Study in short, focused sessions that last no more than two hours. And don’t stay up late studying the night before an exam. The more sleep you get, the better you’ll perform.

7. Focus on the end goal

If you feel yourself getting low about how much studying you need to do, imagine how great it’s going to feel when you get the results you want.

‘I like writing out notes and reading over them; that's how I study. The best time for studying is after school because then it's still fresh in your mind.’ Aimée, 16, St Peter the Apostle High School

8. Ask for help

Talk to someone if you’re feeling confused, stressed or lonely. If you’ve got a question about something you’re studying – or if you just need some emotional support – speak to a parent, teacher or a friend taking the same subject.

9. Don’t procrastinate

What’s the point? You’re just going to leave yourself with less time to study and a whole lot more stress.

10. Treat yourself

Treats can be a great way to keep motivated. Set yourself a goal and some kind of treat to follow. Do you want to watch something on TV, go shopping or see friends? Tell yourself you can, but only after you’ve done a specific amount of study. It’s going to be less painful if you know there’s fun to follow.

What next?

Thinking about your next step? Check out Course Choices.