How to ace your end of year exams

by frank-stuart

Impending exams can strike fear into any student’s heart. Why are exams so frightening? Because a whole year’s worth of study often comes down to just one test. Because you don’t know what the questions will be. Because you’re worried that nerves might get the better of you.

These are legitimate concerns. The only way to alleviate these worries, and give yourself the best chance of acing your exam, is to prepare well. In this article, we’re going to describe some techniques to help you study for exams, and also describe what pitfalls to avoid.

Create a plan

Sometimes you have such a huge study load that you just don’t know where to begin. Write a plan of what you need to study. Break it down into chunks, and mark off what you have studied as you go. Once you have gone through all topics, go back and revise what you have studied.

Be active, not passive

Some reading material is dense and dry. That’s the nature of academic textbooks. It’s extremely difficult to read pages of text and expect to memorise the salient points. You need to do your best to engage with the text. Highlight the important points, and write them down. You are far more likely to remember the important details if you take note of them.

Identify your learning style

We all learn differently. Some people are auditory learners, some are visual learners, and some are kinesthetic learners. Create study techniques that suit your style of learning. For example, if you’re an auditory learner, you might read the notes aloud, or discuss important study points with others, for better retention of information.

Assess yourself

It’s important to test yourself against what you have studied. Create your own tests to determine how much information you’ve retained, and how much more study you need to do. Keep testing yourself until you’re performing at a high level, and try to get previous exam papers, which will give you an idea of what to expect. This will give you confidence going into your exam.

Minimise distractions

It’s very easy to get distracted. It can be helpful to plan the times you will be studying, and ensure you give your full attention to study during those times. Set up a study space with all your study materials. Give yourself regular breaks, but be disciplined with the amount of time you study and the length of your breaks.

Be organised

Cramming is not the most effective study technique. It’s usually a last ditch effort from desperate students to scrounge a pass mark. You don’t want to have to rely on trying to pack as much information in as you can at the 11th hour. You just won’t retain that much. Space your study out. Take a measured, step-by-step approach so you can thoroughly go through all the topics that may be covered in your exam. The day before your exam should be reserved for revision, and a little bit of relaxation when you have finished revising. Try getting a massage, or going for a walk.

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