Stay on top of your exam studies with these tips

by frank-stuart
6JUN

Clean up your study space

Make sure you have enough room to spread your textbooks and notes out. Here is a good rule of thumb. You want to be able to extend your arms straight in front of you without knocking anything over, lamp and computers are an exception. Seeing as we just mentioned lamps, be sure your study space is well lit. No, the blue light from your computer screen does not count. Are you comfortable? You do not need to sit bolt upright at a desk if you prefer the floor go for it. Having said that, make sure you are as comfortable as you can be. Being comfy means, you can study harder and for longer.

Try and rid your area of as many distractions as possible. For some, this means complete silence. For others, music or other ambient noise may help. Some of us need everything completely tidy and organised to concentrate, while others thrive in a more cluttered environment. Think about what works for you and take the time to get it right. But try to prioritise a quiet and clean environment. Many of us are conditioned to be around noisy and messy spaces, so try following the advice of the experts.

 

Give yourself enough time to study

Do not leave it until the last minute. While some students insist on cramming, it is common knowledge that this is not the best way to approach your exams. To help sort out your time management, make a study schedule for yourself. Write down how many exams you have and the days on which you have to sit them. Then prioritise your study accordingly. You may want to give some exams more study time than others, after all, only you know how well you know the course material.

 

Practice past exams

One of the most tried and tested ways to prepare for your exam is to practice previous versions. This will help you adjust to the format of the questions, and – if you time yourself – can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.

Compare your exam with a marathon. You want to be consistent. You do not want to move to quick and miss something when you start, but you do not want to drag out the time either. Learn where you should delegate your time by doing as many practice exams as possible.

 

Make use of visual aids and diagrams

Visual aids can be beneficial when revising. When you first sit down to revise something, challenge yourself to write down everything you know about the subject. This will show you where the gaps in your knowledge are. The closer you get to the exam consolidate your notes into a one-page diagram. Getting the information down into one succinct document can help you recall everything you need to know during the exam.

Consider trying this, when you go to write out your diagram, see what you can get down in the exam time. Chances are you will not be frantically writing at this pace when you sit the exam.

 

Explain what you know to others

This one will be short.

Explain concepts, topics, subject matter to people around you. If you can get it out concisely, that is a good sign that you understand the material. You also have the added benefit of identifying further gaps in your knowledge.

 

Organise study groups

Get together with friends for a study session. You may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. As long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for the upcoming exams.

Be mindful though. This could be one of the most dangerous forms of study, as well. So as previously stated, it is critical that you stay on task as a group.

 

Take regular breaks

While you may think it’s best to study for as long as you can, this can be detrimental to how much information you retain. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t try and run 24 hours a day. Likewise, studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks is best practice.

Everyone is different, so develop a study routine that works for you and your life. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Conversely, if you are more productive at nighttime, take a more extended break earlier in the day so you are ready to settle down come evening.

There is no need to feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. It is just a matter of keeping yourself disciplined. Be sure to enjoy your breaks, but be ready to jump back into your work. Only you can keep yourself honest.

 

Eat and drink

Keep away from junk food. No matter what people say, junk food does not help you study. You may think it does, but that is probably because of the association you have created. A lot of us snack when we study, whether it be ordering a pizza for the group, or eating chips. Either way, the body will respond better to nicer foods.

Keep your body and brain fuelled by choosing nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and berries. The same goes for the exam day. Eat a good meal before the test, based on foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. Sugar may seem appealing, but your energy levels may start to dip mid-exam. When you are trying to recall information under pressure, that is the last thing you want.

Naturally, drink plenty of water, and definitely bring some with you to the exam if you are allowed.

Follow these tips and you are sure to put your best foot forward entering your exam.

Good luck!

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