Today marks the end of my 3rd exam in this summer period. But with another 5 to come over the next two weeks I’m far from finished.

The build-up and then sudden speed of exams can be tricky to handle it. It feels like you spend an age waiting for the first and preparing for it, and before you know it you’ve finished your last one without a clue for how well you’ve done.

It can be tough mentally; cramming in all the lecture slides, less sleep and general adrenaline and/or stress of the actual exam. It’s no surprise that those who control their head better, do better.

So what can be done to help? Try sport.

You spend a great deal of time sitting at the computer or with your head in a book when revising for exams. You can’t revise effectively for excessively long periods, so take regular breaks to stay productive. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, reducing stress and helping you to get good night’s sleep

Some research actually suggests that 20 minutes of exercise right before an exam will help you perform better.


You’ve studied hard, had a good night’s sleep, eaten a good breakfast, and now you’re ready for your big test. You might consider walking to the exam—20 minutes of activity, walking, running, or other exercise, has been shown to boost test scores.

Researchers started with children around 9 and 10, and tested children who got some exercise—usually aerobic exercise like walking, running, or playing—before a test, and compared their scores with children who didn’t get any exercise at all. They found that the children who were active scored better on the tests, all other things being equal.

The research showed that “fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply. Since both groups of children had similar socioeconomic backgrounds, body mass index and other variables, the researchers concluded that being fit had enlarged that portion of their brains.”

Similar research has been conducted with teenagers and young adults, results of which can be seen here.

What’s clear is that there are benefits. If may take up some precious revision time, but it is worth it.

So the next time you had enough of past papers, put down your pen and do something active!