So it’s getting to that time of year again for all us students; exam time. For some, it’s no biggy. I wish I could be one of those people who can breeze by, study a few nights before the exam and ace it. Unfortuantely, I am not one of those people. Especially with having anxiety, I need to be prepared at least a month in advance and know what I need to do. For years I’ve been Googling study and revision tips to help get me through them, and so here I’ve compiled my favourite and most effective tips.
1. Make a schedule
One of the most important things to do is to work out what needs doing and when, so creating a schedule of absolutely everything is so helpful. Note down what times you’re in university, work, the gym, what assignments and exams you have coming up and deadlines, or anything else. From here you can see where you have free time, and so you can then create a revision or study schedule to fit in this timeframe and work towards your deadlines, Make sure to schedule in breaks every half an hour so. Even if they’re only 5 minute breaks, they’re essential to re-egnergise your mind and body.
2. Create a routine
This ties in with the above tip; once you’ve got a schedule set in place, try and make this a routine. If you have a free hour every night in your schedule, then use that hour. Once you’ve done it for a few consecutive days, it won’t be such a chore anymore and you will get used to dedicating that time to work.
3. Gather your notes
If you’re anything like me (sporadically unorganised) you’ll have bits of notes in different notebooks. I like to take time to gather my notes together, and even type them up into a word document so that everything is together. This makes it so much easier when it comes to revision. Going over any material provided and previous lectures is also useful when gathering notes to ensure there is nothing that you have missed.
4. Condense information into your own words
My bad habit when notetaking is to literally copy down what the lecturer says or what is on the presentation. This can be quite unhelpful when it comes to going over your notes in the future; the notes might be quite basic, or hard to understand. Writing things in your own words shows understanding of the content and will be more helpful when it comes to revision.
5. Create practice tests and study guides
During seminars or lessons, or even on your online student hub, past exam papers and questions should be provided. Use these to pratice writing answers in the allocated time slot as if you are actually taking the test. This should help you to understand where you are up to in terms of understanding the material, and how much you can put together in the time allowed. Similarly, put together study guides for each exam including all the main topics and information you will need. I’ll be writing a post on creating a study guide in the future, so I won’t go into too much detail now.
6. Take care of yourself
This is one of the most important tips in my opinion. If you let yourself get ill or run down, it will have a significant impact on your productivity. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, at least 7-8 hours per night. It’s also super important to eat right and stay nourished. For those of you who like to spend all day in the library (I wish I was that dedicated!), companies like Exante* can be your best friend. They provide healthy and nutritious ready meals that just need water, such as shakes and noodles. Three or four of those per day, depending on what you choose, contain your entire RDA (recommended daily allowance) of nutrients. That way, you know you’re getting everything you need and it’s all made so easily! The shakes actually taste super good too. The noodles? Perfect for those days when you’re tucked away at your desk. Similarly, make sure to keep hydrated by drinking at least 2-3 litres of water per day.
7. Make a dedicated study space
Create one place where you can study and work on assignments where you can avoid distractions. Universities will have dedicated study spaces, either in the library on around campus. If you are studying at home or in your student house, try and choose somewhere away from your bed or television. If it really isn’t possible to do that, study with your back to these. Studying in a clutter and distraction free zone repeatedly means that every time you sit in the area, you will be ready for study.
8. Form a study group
Sometimes the best people to teach you something you don’t quite understand are your fellow students. The lecturer may find something so obvious that they aren’t too helpful in their explanation. Similarly, spending time with fellow students and learning together can be so helpful; you can bounce ideas off each other, engage in debates and go over lecture material and exam prep. Some people don’t always understand the stress of exams and assignments, so it can be nice to spend time with likeminded people.
9. Teach somebody else
During revision, try and teach the topic to another person who has no previous knowledge of this subject. Families and friends are great people to test out, and they’ll be honest with you if you’re making no sense. To teach somebody about a certain subject means you have to understand it first; you may surprise yourself!
10. Don’t overdo it
The worst thing you can do is wear yourself out before an exam. Stop revising between 12 and 24 hours before the exam. It’s likely that after this time, you’ll just stress yourself out and make yourself more confused. If you really want to brush up on info before the exam, at the most, use flashcards. Get an early night, have a healthy and hearty breakfast and engage in a productive activity to get yourself going, maybe yoga, some excercise or complete a crossword puzzle.
*Exante provided me with products in exchange for consideration on my blog