So the exam timetable has just been released and you’re all of a sudden feeling the intense pressure of the impending end of semester finals. Here are a few tips to help you take control of exam season and make the most of your study!
1. START EARLY
There really is no better time than the present so use the time you have wisely and think of prepping now as giving yourself a major head start. Try to get on top of content now and identifying gaps in your knowledge so that when STUVAC comes around you can take full advantage of the week off to revise and complete practice papers. The last thing you want is to get to finals and be on your fifth mental breakdown of the week because you’ve spent your semester binging Netflix.
2. GET ORGANISED
Now is your chance to embrace your inner Monica Gellar and get organised! Once exam timetables are out begin by slotting in your exam dates and times into your calendar and start scheduling the weeks leading up. Make sure your room and seating allocations are easily accessible along with your ID card. You will find life to be so much easier when you get to exam day. Also allocate specific days to different subjects and divide your time up between different topics to ensure you cover everything in the lead up.
3. DON’T MULTI-TASK
When studying, research shows that multi-tasking can really detract from learning and the quality of work produced. Therefore, it is important to ensure when it is time to learn you focus on one task at a time and complete that task before moving onto the next. Not only will this mean for better concentration, organisation and attention to detail but it will also give you that momentum to complete subsequent tasks. Small successes will turn into larger victories and motivate you to get more work done.
4. CREATE MINDMAPS AND SUMMARIES
A good tip to learning content is to create a mind map and summary page for each individual topic you have learnt over the semester. Not only will they allow you to get creative with your study but they will save you so much time when revising. Memory retention is improved also as your brain is able to make connections between the main ideas you present so that you are sure not to forget the most important information.
Take your notes to the next level with some highlighters. Use a colour coding system across all your subjects. Allocate different colours for headings, subheadings, important words, definitions, examples, etc. Anything that is important to remember highlight or box it so that your mind is drawn to it! These will serve as trigger points when completing your exams.
6. STUDY IN A GROUP
Don’t want to drown in your own misery? Make a study group. Collaborative study may not also make revision fun it can also benefit your quality of learning. By having a group of people studying with you you have greater resource pool and will be better able to fill knowledge gaps. Not only this, dividing work and revision may mean cutting down even more time on study. Teaching each other information will also ensure you completely understand what you are learning.
If you live by the mantra sleep is for the weak it may be time to, well…get a new mantra. Scientifically speaking, sleep is key to memory retention and when we don’t get enough sleep it is more difficult for our brains to conduct memory consolidation. Exhaustion will not allow for mental processes to operate effectively so ensure you set a goal time to be in bed every evening to ensure a good sleep and keep your mind in check!
8. MAKE HEALTH A PRIORITY
A lot of people tend to throw health out the window during exam time and put their bodies into overdrive. Eating healthy and maintaining a balanced lifestyle will help keep you on top of your study game and also prevent you from contracting any illness during this most crucial time of semester. Keep your body moving even if it’s with a quick walk around the block and make sure to stay hydrated. Turning to caffeine and energy drinks is a big no as they can be counter intuitive and lead you to crash and add to the anxiety and stress you already feel during this hectic period.
9. AVOID DISTRACTIONS
What better time to crack that meme addiction than lead up to exams. Getting lost in your facebook feed can be a huge time waster so turn off your phone and keep it in a different space while you get through your work. Need help staying away? Download focus apps like forest or flipd which prevent you from using the distracting apps on your phone. For your desktop, download self-control which is essentially the equivalent, and you can add your most frequented, procrastination inducing websites to your blacklist.
10. REWARD YOURSELF
Possibly the most important tip of them all is to reward yourself! After learning a topic or studying for a certain interval reward yourself with some scrolling time, watch a show or movie, or chat with friends. Breaks are just as important as work time and they give your mind a chance to regroup and stay motivated. Your off-time will make your work more effective and give you something to look forward to.
Following these tips will give you a surefire way of making it through to the end of the semester.
The key is to find a balance between staying disciplined and making allowances for time for yourself. Good luck!
Written by Martina Marinovic