We all know that dreaded feeling. That all important test or exam is around the corner and you are feeling ill-prepared. Don’t fret – you are not alone. There surely must be very few people who can honestly say they don’t get nervous at the mere mention of the word “Exams”!
It is human nature (well, for most humans anyway) to procrastinate. To wait until the very last to do something...studying for exams must certainly be at the top of that list! But why do we do it? Is it because the very thought of exams makes us want to bury our heads in the sand and wish it away? Or perhaps we don’t regard it with enough importance and always have something better to do. Chances are you chose the first option, as many of us tend to avoid situations we are not comfortable with.
If exams and studying are such situations, help is at hand. We have identified some useful study tips to help make the process easier.
Be Aware – Once you receive your exam timetable, make copies and stick it up all around your house. Make sure you familiarise yourself with all the important dates, and having the timetable where you can constantly see will help keep you on your toes and remind you to make time for the books each day prior to the examination run-up. Useful also if you don’t want to be caught studying the wrong subject on the wrong day!
You are Aware, now Prepare - Yes we know, studying well in advance is not high up on most people’s favourite to-do lists. If you are not the type to hit the books months before an exam, the next best advice would be to read over any new work every day after school. This will ease the pressure come exam time and also help you understand it better. It will also allow you the opportunity to find solutions to problems you may have by speaking to your teacher, asking and comparing notes with your peers or researching it in your textbooks well before exams come around.
Study Schedule – Once you receive your exam timetable, it is important to plan your study schedule. Knowing which papers you will be writing when will help you prioritise your time, especially with tougher subjects. Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses so that you may pay special attention to those subjects that require it. Set aside time each evening to start making notes and revising. At this stage it is more important that you understand your work than trying to remember each word – this will make it easier for you the days leading up to the exam as you won’t be spending your precious time trying to solve problems and deal with confusion. It may be a good idea to schedule study groups with your friends which is a great way to discuss topics and exchange ideas.
Enjoy the peace – When you study, you need to have your full concentration focused on your books, not the cellphone, tv or radio. These are the biggest distracters and having them switched on during studying time will only detract you from the objective at hand.
Pace Yourself – Having a schedule is important, but apart from making sure you stick to it, you need to be sure not to over-exert yourself. If you have studied for a few hours and start feeling tired and your concentration starting to wane, take a break. Go for a walk, have a short nap or make yourself something to eat. If you still feel strain thereafter rather put your books away and start again the next day. Remember it is very unlikely that you will absorb anything when all you concentrating on is climbing into bed!
Simplify Your Life – When making notes, remember to keep it simple. Look for key words and build around that. Make mental notes and images associated with that word and jot it down and then underline or highlight it, as it will be easier for when it is time to revise as opposed to being bombarded with copious amounts of paperwork that may overwhelm you.
Take care of Yourself – Medical research has shown that when we are stressed, it can have a negative effect on our immune system. It is important to look after your physical wellbeing in order to remain in the optimal mental frame of mind when writing your exams. Remember to exercise regularly, eat balanced meals, make sure to get enough water and don’t forget those supplements. Try and limit your intake of caffeine and definitely stay away from the energy boosting syrups, drinks and tablets.
Material Matters – Try and get hold of past papers, and have a look around to see what study guide are available. They are a great way to gain insight into what you can expect during your paper. Past papers are often provided by the subject teacher, and it will be in your best interest to go through them to iron out any areas you may not be sure of.