Keeping healthy for exams

A guide for international students.

Written by Kate Millar

Taking care of yourself as an international student during exam time can be difficult. There’s a bit to manage like exam revision, assignments, a foreign education system, and of course Australian slang! What exactly is SWOTVAC?

To help you stay well throughout your studies, we spoke to current students and Medibank Health Partnerships interns, Keshia and Randi, for their advice.

Keshia is completing her third year of a Bachelor of Psychological Science at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), while Randi, originally from Sri Lanka, is studying towards a Master of Digital Health at La Trobe University.

These are their top tips for staying healthy during exam time.

Make a timetable

Having a timetable or schedule is a great way to stay on top of your studies. Randi suggests checking what online revision and assignment planners your university offers.

Keshia advises breaking your timetable into specific tasks, like writing an introduction or studying a particular chapter, and planning to do your hardest tasks first.

“I would say don’t put the subject you’re struggling with late at night. Try and start with it in the morning.” Keshia says.

Take breaks

One of Keshia’s top tips for exam time is to take regular breaks. Even a short break of five minutes can help manage stress.

A technique like the Pomodoro Method, of taking a short break every 25 minutes, can be an excellent way to manage time.

Keshia also advises doing something fun or physical on study breaks.

“You want a change of scenery because afterwards – it always makes me feel more productive!"

Prioritise sleep

Late nights might seem like a normal part of being a student. However, getting plenty of sleep is vital.

A lack of sleep doesn’t just impact physical and mental health but can make it harder to absorb new information. It also impacts memory and focus, which can impact exam performance.

In general, aim to get between and seven and eight hours of sleep every night and try to establish a good sleep routine.

Eat well

Randi believes it’s important for students to eat properly during exams.

Research suggests that some foods can help with studying better, otherwise known as ‘brain food’ like fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy, eggs and nuts.

When Randi needs cooking inspiration, she loves looking for recipes on Medibank’s website.

“There are so many Live Better articles, so I can browse and find so many nutritious recipes.”

Check out Medibank’s easy veggie pho, or comforting Thai chicken and supergreens curry.

Get moving

Regular activity can help with thinking more clearly.  Exercise is shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memory – which is useful during your studies!

“Definitely take a break, take a walk, do some exercise,” says Keshia

Getting your blood pumping isn’t just good for your body. Research shows students can reduce their test anxiety stress by exercising for 20 minutes two or three times a week.

Regular movement can also improve focus, memory and sleep, helping you get more out of your studies.

Find study support

If you need some extra study support, there are plenty of places to turn.

Randi recommends visiting your university or library website to make an appointment with a librarian or peer learning advisor, who can assist you with research, writing and exam revision.

Meanwhile, Keshia suggests talking to your tutors and lecturers.

“They’re your best point of contact at the end of the day for that course. They’ll know what you need to work on or what kind of tips they have from previous years.”

Manage your stress

Many students find exam periods stressful but keeping your stress under control is an important part of staying well.

When you’re overwhelmed, meditation can help calm you down and feel more grounded.

Alternatively, you might like to try a quick breathing technique. Even five deep breaths in and out, slowly counting to five for each inhale and exhale, can help you relax and unwind.

Make time to unwind

After your exams, Keshia says it’s a good idea to take some time away from your studies to relax and unwind.

“I honestly push all my work aside. I don’t look at any documents. I don’t look at any papers that are to do with university.”

She adds that the end of exams is the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, family, and even Netflix.

“Just do whatever helps you unwind.”

Wellbeing support from Medibank

If you need extra support to stay well during your studies, Medibank is here to help.

With Medibank’s Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), you have access to our 24/7 Student Health and Support Line, where you can receive medical assistance, counselling services, guidance on accessing healthcare and much more.

If you’d like to speak to someone on the phone, Medibank OSHC members can call 1800 887 283, and ahm OSHC members call 1800 006 745.

Happy studying!


24/7 Student Health and Support Line

Need support? Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover members can call anytime for health advice from a registered nurse, counselling services, emergency legal advice, travel document assistance, interpreter service and more.

Written by Kate Millar

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