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Tackling exams and revision - the Outward Bound way

Exams are just around the corner, but do they seem like the overwhelming mountain between young people and their summer freedom? Fear not, there are some simple ways to dial down the stress during exam season.

At Outward Bound, we're all about equipping young people with the skills they need to deal with the tricky situations they come across in life – just like exams. We help to build young people's resilience – so that when a problem crops up, they’re not stuck at the bottom of the climb but can scramble right to the top and down the other side. We empower young people with the attitudes and behaviours they need to excel.

Exams can be a real challenge for some young people. So, it only seemed right we put our heads together to come up with some top Outward Bound tips for dealing with exams - and looking after wellbeing throughout the revision period.

1. Plan, plan and plan again

You will have heard the phrase “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”? We don’t doubt this one has been drilled into you from every angle, but we’re going to drill it in some more. Thinking ahead, planning and goal-setting is a characteristic of highly motivated and successful people. Setting yourself an objective which is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound, will help you to stay on track and make sure you're exam ready. And this one doesn’t just apply to exam prep. When we set goals and create a plan of action, it helps us to remain committed to our task and achieve what we set out to do.

2. Take your breaks outside
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Regular revision breaks are essential – you can only concentrate for short periods of time. Why not take your break outside? We know that in general, young people spend less time outside than previous generations, but there is a great case for turning that statistic on its head – nature is brilliant for our health and wellbeing. Spending time outside for just a short period of time has been proven to have a positive impact on self-esteem and mood, so it’s a no brainer to us. Get maximum effect from your revision break by going to the park, your garden, or just taking a short walk around the block.

3. Fuel your body and your mind

Health is never just physical or mental – it’s both. Part of keeping yourself in tiptop working condition (to achieve those goals) is eating the right stuff. You wouldn’t go out into the hills for the day without a hearty breakfast and a pocket full of snacks so why would you embark on a serious revision session without the appropriate fuel? If you’ve ever been to one of our centres you know we’re serious about proper food. We recommend a balanced lunch and plenty of water too.

4. It's good to keep talking
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It’s easy to become isolated when you’re deep in revision. But having and maintaining strong relationships – with our friends, teachers and parents – is critical for our own wellbeing. And it’s doubly important at a time when you might be feeling anxious about exams. So make sure you don’t lock yourself away – plan a study session with friends, find time to meet up and relax, and speak to a teacher or parent if you need some help. Make the most of the supportive network you have around you – nobody can do it all by themselves.

5. Balance physical activities with revision

Why not incorporate a little physical activity into your revision break? Regular physical activity is linked with lower rates of anxiety – so it is perfect for helping to deal with exam stress. Far from thinking that revision means there is no time for a kick about down the park, or that you’ll have to give swimming a miss this week – it's all about balance. We think outside revision breaks, friends and getting your heart rate up is an absolute winner for happy and healthy minds this exam season.

We’re committed to providing educational experiences which nurture young people’s health and happiness, enabling them to flourish in all spheres of life, not just school exams.

We’ve written a report about mental health, wellbeing and connecting to nature, which explains more about the role outdoor environments can play in individual wellbeing, and how schools and workplaces can contribute to young people’s mental health.

Further Reading

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Interventions put in place to promote mental and physical health in pupils.

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