6 Of The Most Effective Exam Tips
It’s so easy at the beginning of the year. The classes are fresh and interesting, the parties are endless and all responsibility seems a long way off. Exam season feels like the words ‘pension fund’ or ‘mortgage’; unpleasant to think about but safely in some distant future.
Until it comes. Stress seems to settle on you quickly and before you know it, you sort of wish you were organising your pension fund instead of making any sort of revision plan. I know the feeling. The good news is that, like with most things, there are some neat little tricks that can really help you through the exam period.
Tip 1: Plan, plan and plan.
Let’s start with some old maid advice: A Revision Plan.
When you have something mapped out, it makes life a lot easier. First of all, it looks satisfying to see your plan. Maybe it’s a false sense of achievement but who cares! Second of all, it makes sure you can cover everything you need. It’s easy for some things to slip through the cracks when you don’t have an idea of what you are studying on each day.
The key thing with plans is making achievable goals. Many find it tempting to say, ‘I will do 10 hours of revision today!’ Realistically, this doesn’t work (for most people that is: I know a few study maniacs that can actually do this). In my opinion, bite sized chunks are more effective. At the end of the day, doing anything for 10 hours straight can be exhausting, even if it’s something you enjoy.
Tip 2: Quizlet
This app/ website has been my saviour. If you are a flashcard kind of person, Quizlet is the thing for you. You can make your own flashcards and there are different ways to test yourself on the app. There is also the option to listen to your flashcards! You can sit back on the bus and let the knowledge enter your brain (oh, if only it were that easy…)
It’s good to keep in mind that Quizlet is particularly good for those learning a language. Basically all of my Spanish vocabulary lies tucked into this little app and I test myself whenever I get the chance.
Tip 3: Exercise and Sleep
I know, I know: Another mum-like piece of advice. But really, it’s simple but effective. Our mind and body are so connected. It does a world of good to study hard and then go sweat it at the end of the day (or before you start studying too, if that suits you better). Body first and the mind follows, especially during exam season.
Tip 4: Treat yourself
I spoil myself. If you can, save up a little extra money for the exam season. When you have something to look forward to during a hard day’s work, it not only makes studying more enjoyable but it actually improves the quality of your concentration. Treating yourself can mean a lot of things. My friend and I would try eat out in restaurants more often during the exam season. Trying new food and sharing a bottle of wine is my perfect way to unwind when I’ve been cramming my head full of information all day. For others, treating yourself may mean shopping, alone time in the city, a date-night: whatever it is, make some time and money for those little things because it REALLY helps to get you out of your stress-filled head.
Tip 5: Experiment
So many times we think we already know the perfect way to study. Maybe we believe this because it’s just the way we’ve been doing it for such a long time already. However, we are always changing and sometimes our habits change depending on our environment. If you are a night-owl, try waking up early for a few days to study in the morning instead. If you hate it, you can switch back. Try shorter time intervals of studying but more frequently. Or the opposite: longer time periods but less time chunks. The point is, take the time to get to know what works best for you because you could end up surprising yourself.
Tip 6: Last Silly Tip
This one is a personal one and I’m sure it won’t work for everyone but I felt I had a duty to throw it. Here it goes:
Read your revision notes as soon as you wake up in the morning.
Strange tip, right? Trust me. I go to bed with my most important notes next to the bed, As soon as my alarm goes off in the morning, I force myself to open the notes and read them while still half asleep. IT DOES WONDERS. Something about the mind in that state of sleep and wake really imprints the information in my head.
Again, maybe it’s just me. However, this links to tip number 6 about experimenting with different techniques. You never know when you’ll stumble across some golden information.
You got this.
I hope these wee little tips work for you. Whatever the case, the most important thing to remember is that exams are just exams. Try your best, work hard but they are not the be-all and end-all. Look after your minds and bodies!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Leave your phone in another room otherwise you will be tempted to be on social media and talk to your friends and distract yourself.
- Create a work space for yourself – whether that is in your room or a shared space with your family. Make your space and keep it solely for studying.
- Take regular breaks to go outside and let your brain switch off in between work sessions.
Unwind. There is no point cramming your brain until the early hours before an exam. Get some good sleep, stay hydrated and relax.