For most of us, when exam time arrives, it usually comes hand in hand with stress and anxiety.
Perhaps it’s because of the high expectations we set for ourselves, or what our parents expect us to achieve or even just that it is fear of the unknown.
“What will the questions be?” or “will I even pass?”
Whatever it is that gets your stomach in a knot, most people agree that exam time can be extremely nerve-wracking, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be!
The key is preparation! As the famous saying goes, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” If you make sure you are prepared, relaxed and in control, there is no reason you can’t tackle your exams with confidence.
At ME Education, we have mastered all the best study tips and tricks. Because we have been in the game for so long, we have seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to exam preparation.
Here are our 10 favorite tips:
Prioritize Sleep It may seem counterintuitive or even feel irresponsible to be closing your books and getting into bed but the research proves that a solid night of sleep improves the ability to remember facts. Studies also show that while we are sleeping, our brain organizes itself and strengthens new memories by putting them into long-term storage. That means there’s a good chance you’ll remember whatever you reviewed before you went to sleep. We suggest that in the days leading up to a big exam, try and get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
Take Pride in your Notes The temptation to scribble notes or add arrows and stars everywhere is real. While you may know exactly what you are referring to when you jot the notes down, it may not be as clear to you when you go back and review. It’s important to keep your notes tidy and clear. Our brains struggle to focus when we are reading confusing notes and scribbles. An organized notepad reflects an organized mind so if you have to, rewrite your study notes so they are clear and neat.
Use Color-coding Once your notes are written out neatly, feel free to highlight in different colors or write in different colored pens. So long as your notes stay neat and legible, adding color could improve your visual memory and allow you to access information from your brain during an exam more efficiently. Plus, having organized, color-coded notes makes reading through them so much more fun!
Add Some Fun to your Routine Looking at a long page full of text can be daunting and let’s be honest, boring - until you try the Hansel and Gretel method. Even sounds fun, doesn’t it? This is when you place a bite-sized piece of candy or any food you enjoy, like a gummy bear or an M&M or even a nut, next to every paragraph on the page. Once you finish reading each paragraph, you get to reward yourself by eating that piece of food. Positive reinforcement is a great way to motivate you and help you learn. You’ll be enjoying your food trail so much, reading each paragraph will become exciting instead of a boring grind.
Play Some Tunes Another way to make studying a bit more interactive is by playing some music while you work. Not all music is appropriate for studying though. Classical or instrumental music has been known not to interfere with studying and can in fact enhance it. Background music can help to improve your focus during long study sessions and if the music is relaxing, it can also can help to ease nerves and beat pre-exam anxiety. Many people prefer to have music playing softly in the background over the silence of a library or the background noise of an annoying sibling.
Listen to Recordings To remember things accurately, its important to use as many of the senses as possible. That’s why, apart from reading and writing, students should try adding in other senses like listening. During the year, if you can, try and record some of your lectures while you take notes. Listening to recorded lectures is helpful, especially if you are reading the notes at the same time. It’s a great way to reinforce the knowledge in your mind and to refresh some topics you may have studied months ago and forgotten about.
Become the Teacher They say if you can’t simplify an idea, then you don’t understand it. A teachers’ job is to take difficult concepts and explain them in a way that is easy to understand. This can be a lot trickier than it sounds. When you teach a friend the material you are studying, it allows you to train and prepare your mind to explain complex topics. It also helps to highlight the ideas you may be struggling with so you can get more familiar with the concepts and easily simplify them. Teaching a friend is even more useful if your final consists of a speech or presentation as it allows you to practice.
Practice Old Exams Speaking of practice, the best way to prepare for an exam is to practice on an old one. If you can, try and save your old tests – they are great for studying! You can either retake old tests to review the material or just focus on the questions you previously got wrong.
Take Regular Breaks Think quality not quantity! You may think it's best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive. Studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks really helps. Try not to feel guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of hunched over your textbooks. Remember Vitamin D is important for a healthy brain.
Keep Things Familiar If you know where your finals will be held and you're able to study there, do it. Taking a test in a familiar environment will make the experience less stressful and will help you recall the information you've studied.
If you aren't completely sure where the test will be or can't access it for studying, find an environment that will be similar to the test day.
Some people are early birds, some are night owls. Some prefer to study with friends, others need complete and total silence.
Experiment to find what study method is most effective for you, and then stick with it!