University and PKU: How to cope with exams, by Annie Skidmore
Exams can be a stressful time for everyone and coupled with PKU they can be a real burden and worrying time. I have gone through high school exams, GCSEs, A-Levels and now University exams and coursework, so I have a wide range of experiences in how to cope with a range of exams. Throughout my academic studies I have also adopted and found certain techniques and things that work for me to allow PKU to not negatively influence my performance in my studies.
Over my academic years I have found that PKU can affect my performance if it isn’t managed properly. I have found my concentration and focus to be impaired when PKU levels aren’t under control, or around stressful times such as exams where I was also prone to headaches. However, careful management of PKU and keeping in a routine has helped me to control my stress and anxiety around exams to help manage my PKU levels. Therefore, I have become in control of my PKU and successfully performed and achieved high academic performance. I obtained 9 GCSEs – 4A*s, 4As and B and achieved A*AB at A-level and I am on track to graduate from university at a high level with hope to go onto further MSc study. So, although PKU has challenged me and my academic performance it has NOT stopped me from excelling in my studies just as well as my peers.
MY TOP TIPS:
BE PREPARED: for me this has always been a key component in managing the PKU diet. Knowing when your deadlines and exams are helps you to plan ahead and keep in control – for me it also helped me to become less anxious if I knew what deadlines and exams were coming up. Therefore, allowing for less impact on PKU levels and better control.
HAVE REGULAR BREAKS: when revising for exams it is important to take regular breaks. This will help to keep your brain fresh, and you can use this time to rehydrate and refuel to support your studies whilst managing your PKU diet.
KEEP IT BALANCED: this is also crucial to academic performance. You need to be able to detach yourself from your studies and have time to relax. This may be doing a workout, going on a walk, making a recipe, ringing your friends or watching your favourite tv programme. It will help manage your stress and emotions and give time to control your PKU diet.
DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF: you don’t need to be working non-stop you need time to rest! Also, some days you may manage your PKU better than others, but it is important to take each day as it comes – stressing over a slip up will just heighten your emotions especially closer to the exam.
MEAL PREP: this is such a good way to manage your PKU, save time and still smash out revision. Having a quick and easy meal already to go will minimise cooking time but will still be in line with your diet especially if you don’t have someone who can make it for you.
GET SOME REST: good sleep is crucial and poor PKU levels coupled with stress can disturb sleep patterns. Therefore, by adopting the tips above you will help to relax your body before bed to ensure you are prepared to have a good sleep ready for another day of revision and exams.
I hope these will prove useful to you to help manage your PKU around exams. Keep going with your studies…you’ve got this!