8 top tips on how to survive swotvac

swotvac survival

It’s that time of the year again – swotvac – for those of you who aren’t aware what swotvac is, swotvac means “study while on term vacation” or “study without teaching vacation”. Basically, swotvac is the study period before exams begin and your lectures and tutorials finish. Or, if you’re as hopeless with your studies as I am, the game of catch-up where you force yourself to watch a semesters worth of lectures and cram the content in two grueling weeks.

As exhausting as this sounds, there are skills to assist you in your struggle and I’m here to hopefully alleviate that struggle with 8 top tips for how to survive swotvac.

1. Preparation is key: I know I sound like your pestering year 10 english teacher, but approaching your studies with a clear and confident mind frame, leaves less room for those pre-exam jitters. Whether that means having a weekly planner on display or an array of study goals to achieve. If it helps, start your preparation with a clean environment – that includes your study space. Find your routine.

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2. Study snacks: to be honest this should probably be the first tip because study snacks are vital to success. Stock up. Desperate times call for desperate measures and there is absolutely nothing wrong with finishing that block of chocolate to yourself. But, brain food is important, so make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need in your meals – I can relate to the budget struggle but packet Mie goreng does not count as a nutritional meal.

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3. Sleep: remember that luxury? I know all-nighters seem like the only practical option but organise your routine to allow yourself rest and relaxation. Whoever deemed napping to be an activity for toddlers was wrong - there is no shame in a nap. Although, there is shame in passing out in a public space to awake in a pool of your own drool.

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4. Do what works for you: if that means starting your mornings with a 6am run to prepare yourself for the day ahead, or sleeping in because your brain doesn’t function until at least midday – that’s cool. Everyone works in different ways, identify your strengths – and your weaknesses – and work with them. For me, that means relying on the ‘do not disturb’ option on my iPhone because one Facebook notification later and I find myself stalking my friend’s brother’s second cousin’s wife Europe Trip. Procrastination is real.

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5. Take a break: you are only human so don’t feel guilty for needing a break every now and then. There are ways to be beneficial with your time, stretch your legs and go for a walk to get some fresh air. Practice hoops with your friends. Meditate. Have a relaxing shower. Get out of your head and allow your mind to recover and refocus.

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6. Reach out for help: they aren’t kidding when they say most successful people are the ones who recognise when to ask for help. Although you’re technically on vacation, don’t become a stranger to your lecturers or tutors because 9 times out of ten they’re there and willing to answer general questions and offer guidance. Familiarise yourself with the student support available at your University, if you’re at the University of Adelaide like me I’m referring to Succeed@Adelaide, while sometimes a little annoying with their numerous emails and ‘check- ins’ they do have some helpful resources – all you have to do is ask.

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7. Network: Attend study groups and seek feedback from your peers because I can guarantee there will be someone willing to swap drafts and different perspectives are invaluable. If you’re lucky enough to live in a residential college, take advantage of your academic tutors and attend drop in sessions – find support within your cohort.

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8. Don’t forget to prioritise your mental health: swotvac can be a stressful time and it will take its toll if you neglect the things you enjoy. Taking a night or two off to spend time with your friends and let your hair down doesn’t make you a bad person. If there is an opportunity for fun, take it, there is no harm in stepping away from your studies for a period of time. But, remember that in the scheme of things, what might seem like an intense few weeks, will not consume you, so prioritise your time accordingly.

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Good luck to everyone during swotvac and especially in your exams, if you need me I’ll be the blonde one buried in a pile of books and self-pity – one step closer to getting those degree certificates. 

Written by Billie Greatbatch