Studying for any type of examination can be a stressful experience. Every student differs and therefore the studying methods and hacks that work for one person might not work for another. So, how do you know whether you’re studying in the most effective way, and how can you give yourself the best possible chance of success in your upcoming exams?
The successful students tend to be those who take a step back and evaluate their study methods. They may not necessarily spend more time studying than others, but evaluating what they are doing and how they are doing it helps them to make better use of their time and energy. Today we discuss approaches to study, your frame of mind and some general tips to help you better prepare for your upcoming exams.
We’ve been brought up to believe that studying in a quiet space in silence is the right way to take in information and prepare for exams. This may be true for some individuals, but there are others who benefit from listening to some calm background music, for example, to keep them relaxed and focused. Let’s discuss a few studying techniques:
- Set study goals/plans: You don’t want to find yourself with just hours to go until your exam without having completed any study. At the beginning of your course, set yourself some study goals and plans. If you have 10 modules to learn for said exam, section the time you have to study into ten parts – give yourself enough time to study each module thoroughly.
- Visual aids: It may be common for students to write up their lesson notes or passages from course books, but this can be very repetitive and sometimes dull. Try making studying visual – organise the information you need to remember into charts, maps, diagrams and visual concepts to help it stick.
- Test yourself: This may seem fairly obvious, but many students forget to test themselves before an exam and to ask tutors for past exam papers. Doing a mock paper under exam conditions helps reduce any nasty surprises cropping up on exam day.
- Mouth to mouth: Studying doesn’t have to be a one-man show. It can be helpful to work with a study partner or in a study group. Often by talking with others, you’ll keep motivated and learn new information that you may not have picked up on your own. Use this time to explain your answers to exam questions to get feedback. It also helps to know you’re all in the same boat. In addition, you should also be taking advantage of your lecturer’s knowledge – don’t be afraid to ask them for some advice and guidance.
- Embrace technology: Learning has evolved considerably from the days of simply pen and paper. You can now use the likes of relevant podcasts, forums, videos, mobile apps and online tools to study. Have you tried recording yourself reading your exam notes and then listening back?
Frame of Mind
Studying can feel draining and hectic at times, but the key to successful study sessions is staying positive. Stress can get to us all, but it’s worth remembering that your attitude and frame of mind can have a big impact on the amount of study you get done and the effectiveness of your learning process. Try to keep positive and if you feel worried, try to relax, take some deep breaths and give some gentle exercise a go. Focus on positive outcomes and how you can use your strengths to achieve them.
Additional Study Tips
If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of acing your exams, try to implement as many of the below as you can – let your mind and body work as one:
- Take good notes: A good knowledge base comes from great note taking. Fight the urge to be unproductive in your lectures and remember quality not quantity is key – focus on the right information such as key words and concepts as this will save you time when it comes to revising. Start a new page for each lecture (use a notepad not individual pieces of paper) and focus on the lesson’s learning outcomes. Make sure you keep your notes in order and in one place.
- Study space: You could prefer solo study in a library or group study in a friend’s dining room; whatever your preference, it’s important to minimise distractions. If one distraction is your phone, turn it off or have it out of arm’s reach. If you have noisy housemates, pop in your headphones and listen to some serene music – it’s best to avoid songs with lyrics.
- Break it up: It can actually be counterproductive to study for hours on end. Break up your day, set up a manageable routine and take regular breaks – a healthy life/study balance is vital.
- Sleep/exercise: If you find yourself getting restless, see if you can shake the feeling with some exercise. At the same time don’t overexert yourself, and make sure you get enough sleep.
- Diet: If you want to keep your body in optimal condition to study, it’s important to keep hydrated and eat well. Don’t be tempted to snack on the likes of chocolate and drink endless cups of coffee and energy drinks – however tempting they may be. Opt for slow-releasing energy foods like oats and apples to keep your blood sugar up and drink lots of water.
- Reward yourself: Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to recognise the work you have put into studying. It’s beneficial to set yourself a goal, and then reward yourself when you reach it.
Looking to study a higher education qualification? Contact UKCBC today – we’re here to help – or browse our HND, top-up degree and AAT courses. Got any successful study tips of your own? Comment below!