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Tackling the Trinity Terrors

Trinity Term marks the final term of the year, the term where the sun is (sometimes) shining, you can finally enjoy the joys of Port Meadow, and the long-awaited four-month summer is on the horizon. Whilst Trinity is often crowned the best term of the year, it is also the term when most students feel shackled to the Bod.

I am grateful to be able to say that, as a second-year geographer, I will not be experiencing the ‘Trinity terrors’ this year, but I am highly aware that Trinity presents a constant dilemma: soaking up the rays or battling the stresses of revision. This inevitable tension is particularly drawn out for those with exams in 8th or 9th week, with many forced to make the tough decision whether to attend the typical end of year entz. The image of sitting in Exam Schools the following week remains in the back of their heads as they sip their third Pimm’s of the evening, wondering whether not reading that one paper could have been the difference between an academic flop or a groundbreaking essay.

Fight your fears away? Unfortunately, I don’t think the Trinity terrors are something anyone can choose to ignore. It is a matter of finding a way to maintain the balance between focus and fun. Whether they choose to admit it or not, the anxieties of the exam season are experienced by everyone in some shape or form.

So what can you do to maintain a balance between fear and fun? While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, for every milestone in your revision, you have to attempt to recognise your progress. Whether this is delving into that extra sweet treat that you definitely budgeted for after a library session, enjoying an hour in the sun or making the most of your sport commitments, the way I approached Trinity last year was rewarding the little wins. You’ll appreciate this a little bit more if, in the future, you are able to sit in your scholar’s gown (although that tailored piece of fabric does not define you) whilst knowing in your head that you did it without going MIA to everyone in your life.

This balance is also nicely complemented by – without wanting to sound like your school headteacher – a more rigid working schedule. Find friends who maintain a similar working pattern to you and work together. Committing some hours to the SSL together is worth it if it means you can then enjoy an evening of sun (and perhaps sangria).

Celebrate these personal wins, but recognise the wins of others too. In the height of exam anxiety, it is very easy to maintain tunnel vision and forget that other people are in a similar boat. Find the friends that motivate you, but also allow you to maintain a personality that is more than ‘I have exams in two weeks.’ I know this can be easier said than done. Oxford (and university as a whole) can be a pretty lonely place at times, so if that means you spend more time alone, celebrate your little or large wins with the people who matter to you, even from afar.

Most importantly, the Trinity terrors are only temporary. Before you know it, you will be able to have (more) freedom as the summer approaches and life will appear a lot less academically stressful.

Whilst this ‘finding the balance’ lecture might appear to be core to the typical working attitude of an Oxford undergraduate, it doesn’t come as easy as you might think. Preserving your mental health is the most important exam preparation you can do, so, where possible, make time for what, who or where you love during Trinity. Your time at Oxford is incredibly finite, so treasure everything it can give you. From the experience of myself and others, it is possible to satisfy that craving for academic validation and stellar results without physically locking yourself into one of those dingy, claustrophobic study pods in the SSL for hours on end.

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