The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Exam preparation

It's important to get the right balance of work and play to maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure that you’re at your very best for your exams.  If you are struggling with your wellbeing during exam time, talk to someone about it! There are lots of support options available. The University’s Wellbeing pages are a good place to start.

Eat well: Food affects both physical and mental performance. During exam time it's especially important to eat healthily. Get your "5 a day" portions of fruit and vegetables, go easy on the fast food and takeaways, have a healthy breakfast to start the day and pack a healthy snack to refuel on the go. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water too!

Sleep to regenerate: Lack of sleep can be a big factor in poor performance, so try to keep your sleep patterns as stable as possible. Allow yourself some winding down time before bed, try some relaxation techniques, and avoid screens at the end of the day.

Get physical: Your brain will work better if you look after your body too. Exercise can be a great stress buster and can really elevate your mood. Whether it’s a walk on the Downs, a swim or a full gym session – there’s bound to be a type of exercise that works for you!

Connect and relax: Make sure you allow some time to be yourself, see friends, go for a walk in nature or whatever other healthy way you have to unwind.

Managing stress

Exam stress affects different people in different ways. It's perfectly normal to be a bit anxious, but if it's making you ill then do seek support.


There are loads of ways to revise - the trick is to find the methods that work best for you. If you’re struggling with revision, the University's Study Skills Service has loads of information about revision and exams, and they also offer one to one and group support sessions.

Don't forget that the Library also has lots of books and eBooks to help you with your exams as well as Subject Librarians who can offer subject specific advice and support.

Revision requires a lot of self-motivation and concentration.  It’s important to be sensible in your approach and not overdo it. Make a revision plan with time allocated to each topic; but leave some room for flexibility so you can make changes and take breaks. 

Once you have your plan, here are our top tips:

  • Start! No matter how late you’ve left it – there’s no time like the present
  • Collect all your notes together – make sure there aren’t any gaps. If there are, look for information in another source or ask your tutor/friends for help
  • Set yourself short-term goals for each topic, so you can check that you are on target and to give you a confidence boost from achieving and making good progress
  • Don’t try to revise too much in one go – most people struggle to concentrate for more than 2-3 hours at a time. Take breaks! Research has shown that your brain needs unfocussed time to process information.
  • Don’t ignore the topics you don’t like or don’t find interesting
  • Actively revise – don’t just read your notes: write down key points, try to recall important issues on a separate piece of paper, make mind maps. Whatever works for you – just make sure you’re taking the information in
  • Use past papers – practice answering questions (and assessing your answers). Timing yourself is a great way to prepare yourself for writing under exam conditions.

Where to revise

Different students need different spaces: some need absolute quiet; some like to be able to chat to friends; some like to listen to music. But every student should find somewhere they’re able to concentrate, with plenty of space to spread out and access to all the resources they need. Information about the different study spaces available can be found here.

This year there is a temporary restriction on the number of study spaces in the Arts and Social Sciences Library, but alternative study spaces are being made available.

Disability adjustments

If you have specific needs for your exams because of a disability or health problem, you can ask for Alternative Exam Arrangements (AEAs) to be put in place. This could include adjustments such as extra time, rest breaks, permission to bring food into an exam, smaller venues or specialist equipment. If you need AEAs you must request them via Disability Services before the deadline, which is several months prior to each assessment period.

Problems during revision time

If you encounter health or personal problems during revision time, you can submit an extenuating circumstances form so that the exam board can take things into account. In some cases it may be possible for you to defer your exam(s) to a later date. Contact your personal tutor or Just Ask for more advice if you are in this situation.