Never underestimate the power of the highlighting pen!

Kirsten Wilson, College rep at Cardiff Uni, has some wise, if slightly unconventional, advice for surviving upcoming optometry school exams.

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Optometry can sometimes feel like the worst degree in the world. Well, for me, at exam times it does. During the year, I rave about how much I love my degree and how I can’t wait to be an optom and see my own patients. Then the stress of exams hits and it’s the constant ‘why did I choose this degree?’ However, I’ve found that a few simple things help me out, so I thought I’d share them with you. Check out Geoff, Raven and Saabrien’s blogs about this too – they show that everyone’s approach to exams is different!

My top 5 tips for surviving optometry school exams:

1. Never underestimate the ability of a coloured pen!

These magical little things turn a boring page into something you want to look at. It’s probably best not to be like me and over-highlight - I’m talking about whole pages here - but it is helpful to highlight a key word here and there. And they’re great for learning equations too, and making mind-maps look pretty. For example, I recently created a mind-map about the drugs used for glaucoma with the drug names in red and basic information about the drug in blue.

2. Give yourself time to relax

I guess this could be number 1 ... but, seriously, don’t doubt the power of the pens! So many people overwork and don’t allow themselves proper breaks during the day, but honestly your brain and your body need it, and you shouldn’t feel guilty. Find time to do things you enjoy – give your brain a rest and CHILL OUT!

3. Don’t follow the crowd

If your best friend is at the library 8am-8pm, you don’t have to go with them. Everybody works differently to each other. Yes, the library is great because it’s silent and you can get a lot of work done; but at the same time you could spend half an hour admiring a girl’s eyeshadow, or spend an hour trying to not think about the smell of the tuna sandwich the person on the table next you has eaten (honestly people, that is NOT an appropriate snack to bring to the library!) when really sitting at home in your comfies is the best thing for you.

This might need a bit of experimentation if you’re still wondering what kind of reviser you are, but don’t fret and follow the crowd. If you know that’s not what you’re feeling – go by how you feel when you wake up.

4. ‘Treat yo self’

It’s my favourite saying, so I had to!.

If you’ve done a great day of revision and can honestly say that you understand the work and everything else, then treat yourself for it. Personally, I’m a big Cadbury’s chocolate buttons fan so that’s my go to. Although it’s so hard not to eat the big bags in one sitting! Treats don’t have to be in the form of food though, buy that top you were eyeing up, or those sunglasses. Just do something that’s going to make you happy as a treat for all the work you did that day. 

5. Make exciting plans for after the exams

This is the best motivation going for me. The countdown has already begun until exams are over (roll on 29th of May) and all the bits and bobs myself and my friends are planning brings me that extra oomph to put work in and do the best that I can.

I wish you all the best of luck with the upcoming exams, just remember to do the best of your ability and there is no such thing as failure.

Kirsten Wilson
Student rep, Cardiff University

Kirsten always wanted to be an optometrist as she finds eyes really complex and fascinating – especially how they can tell you about patient health. However, she’s not so keen on all the extra reading optometry students need to do as there is so much you need to know before starting the pre-reg year.  

When not in uni (or doing some extra reading), Kirsten can be found at the gym.  And if she wasn’t an optometrist, she’d either be a midwife or a veterinary nurse. 


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