Letters from the Dorm: The university experience isn't just about exams; make time for personal development and growth


Explore your interests and be mindful of your mental health on your tertiary education journey

Belinda Ng |

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Schedule study sessions with your classmates.

In Britain, the last term of each year is known as the exam term at university. At my university, there are designated “quiet periods” during this time, the libraries become very full, and society events are minimised to give students ample time to revise.

I will be sitting my first university exams this year and experiencing exam term for myself is, of course, daunting and stress-inducing. However, what I have learned in my time here is that everything is a matter of perspective. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting a mock exam for your DSE or your very last third year university exam, it’s your mindset that makes all the difference.

When surrounded by bright minds and hardworking people who seem leagues ahead of you, stop feeling like you somehow don’t measure up. Instead, learn from them. Schedule study sessions together where you can exchange material and discuss difficult topics together.

Stress is often self-induced and leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. When you’re faced with a seemingly chronic lack of time to work or revise before exams, you might feel an adrenaline rush. Learn to harness this feeling, focusing it on tackling your problems head on. If this doesn’t work, find an outlet for your stress, such as exercising or talking it out with friends and family.

Exams aren’t the end of the world. In the grand scheme of things, even if you don’t get the results you expect, it’s a learning experience. Trust me, your life will not be ruined because of it.

Use your exams as an opportunity to showcase what you have learned – and try to enjoy the process as much as possible. Revise in a way that challenges you, and come up with ways to make it as interactive as possible. This process is much more important than your final grade.

Take charge of your schedule – this includes adding in time to be mindful. Mindfulness is about being aware of the present and taking time to check in with yourself and your mental health. Don’t let exams take over your life. Make sure you are okay.

I’m hoping this exam term will be somewhat enjoyable.

I have time to look into topics I’ve found interesting throughout my year, and I’ve scheduled in time to take breaks with friends. The pace of my university life will, compared to previous terms, be very different. Regardless of the outcome of my exams, at least this time will be a testament to the learning I have done throughout the year – not just academically, but personally as well.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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