SWOT Week...just the name provokes a fluttering of butterflies in the stomach. SWOT Week, by usual definition, applies to students preparing for upcoming exams and assessments. It is an opportunity to step away from regular classes, work obligations and other commitments, in order to fully submerge yourself in study.
While some type-A personalities (cough, cough) RELISH in the planning and organising opportunities a SWOT week provides, others are full of nervous anticipation and dread. What should I study? How should I study? When should I study? If this is you (and even if it's not), you're in the right place. In this post, we're going to offer you the very best tips and advice to maximise your performance and keep your nervous system CALM.
The first thing you should know about ensuring you are adequately prepared to undertake SWOT week: it's a good idea to take some time off work. Now, I know - this is easy if you're a student, but what if you work full-time? You can't very well just take a week off. If this applies to you, I recommend speaking to your employer about the negotiations that can be made. For example, can you work five half-days this week instead? Can you complete just the important tasks and delegate the simpler ones to other colleagues, leaving time for you to go home early and study? Can you work two full days instead of five? Whatever you'd like to do, chances are your employer will be willing to negotiate with you and create a (very short-term) plan that works for both parties. If you are sitting your LANTITE exam, you probably work in a school environment anyway - your principal, coordinator and leadership teams most likely understand your situation and want to help you as much as they can. So don't be afraid to share your anxieties about taking time off to study.
In the event that a consensus can't be reached, you'll have to spend every waking moment outside of work hours studying. BUT I caution you: do not burn yourself out, especially not the week before a huge exam. Dedicate yourself to studying manageable loads until the weekend comes, when you can fully immerse yourself in it. It isn't the end of the world if you can't get time off before your exam, because the consistent study you've done for the last few months will carry you through. If you're someone that hasn't done any study at all, and are relying on 'cramming' methods the week before, heed my advice: it's unlikely you'll pass, so you're better off postponing until the next window. Save yourself the headache (and heartache!).
Now that you've - hopefully - managed to get some time off during SWOT week, here are my very best tips for making it a smooth, productive and enjoyable (yes, enjoyable) process.
Yes, you've heard this before. I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but organisation is crucial. There are a few small but powerful tasks I recommend to keep yourself organised:
1. De-clutter your space
That's right; Marie Kondo isn't just a pop culture fad icon, she's also kind of a genius. By decluttering your space, you give your brain the mental capacity to process studying. Environments have a huge impact on the way we live our lives, so if you're constantly exposed to mess, clutter and filth, you're probably not in a very good mood, and you're severely restricting your ability to retain information. If you're feeling particularly unmotivated to clean, I recommend just allocating yourself 15 minutes to do as much as you can. Set a timer, put on some music and get moving. Once those 15 minutes are up, I'm willing to bet that you've made significant progress, and probably don't want to stop!
2. Gather your important documents
ACER has some tough requirements, so you'll need to make sure that your affairs are in order. Gather your entry ticket, valid photo ID and any other documents you need for the day. Requirements change depending on the location of your exam, so get online, find out the requirements for your specific circumstances, and place them somewhere safe. Having everything laid out in your nice, clean environment will give you a sense of control over what is essentially an out-of-your-control situation.
3. Make a study list
Just as you've studied with a plan in mind previously, SWOT week is no exception. You can't just frantically run around trying to do everything; you need a clear and concise plan in mind. I recommend planning out the entire week - it might look something like this:
- Revise reading strategies
- Practice exam
- Read for an hour
- Analyse practice exam
- Prepare strategy for whole exam
- Study commas and apostrophes
etc., so on and so forth. For each day, have a precise list of tasks to accomplish and concepts to revise. Ensure you already have the materials available for these. I recommend checking out our shop for some fantastic literacy resources. I've tethered some particularly helpful resources below, but you can find many more in our shop.
I know you've already heard the basic tricks to managing anxiety and stress: meditation, breathing work, distraction strategies, etc. These are all valid, but I invite you to think about what's actually behind your stress.
Too often, we are quick to want to banish stress entirely, but you have to remember that stress is your body's way of alerting you to something. It recognises that the tasks before you are important. In a twisted way, your body is trying to motivate you to get things done. So when you get stressed, think about what in particular is causing this. Yes, you're stressed about your exam - but go deeper than that. Consider:
- whether organisation is a factor (are you stressed because you are not as organised as you could be?)
- whether a lack of time is causing you to feel overwhelmed (have you managed to carve out enough time for your study?)
- whether you are worried that you haven't done enough to prepare (how can you find ways to test your knowledge before sitting the exam?)
- whether you suffer from performance anxiety, so the 'act' of sitting an exam terrifies you (what measures or strategies can you put in place to keep yourself feeling calm and in control?)
You must consider what particular issue is causing your own stress, then work to find solutions to combat it. You might be tempted to erase the stress altogether, but remember: stress is your body's way of helping you. Address the stress so the issue can be resolved. Book in our LANTITE Online Meditation Class for help with managing anxiety:
Don't get caught up in it
SWOT weeks are important, but don't let this idea negate all of the weeks of work you've already done. If you've consistently been studying and working towards achieving your goals, then one week of sub-par studying is not going to detract from that.
Above all, ensure you are well-rested and relaxed going into your exam. Remember: it's OK to ask for help. That's what we're here for :)
If you have any other tips you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below! Good luck SWOTTERS!
- Elysha 💙