The Dreaded Exam…
No matter how hard you’ve worked throughout the year, the final exam will prove daunting to even the most seasoned student. With the pressure of having to deliver your best work within a set time, and without access to all your revision guides and course material, coming to terms with the questions in front of you can transform you from a confident student into a nervous wreck.
Exam preparation is, therefore, absolutely critical to success. But what exactly can you do to overcome the nerves, the anxiety, and the potential for forgetting every detail that you’ve learned over the preceding months? Aren’t there any quick tips to ensure you perform at your best? Fortunately, while there is no one given solution to overcoming exam fears, there are things you can do to ensure you do all you can to prepare.
Types of Memory Food
Did your parents ever tell you when you were young that eating fish is ‘good for the brain’? If they did, you may well have been somewhat cynical about the educational values of such a meal. For those that didn’t: eating fish is good for the brain. What this actually means is that oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, kippers, and herring contain essential fatty acids which are not produced naturally by the body. Effective omega-3 fats contained within such fish help improve brain function, as well as boost heart function and general well-being.
Other so-called memory foods include wholegrains as found in granary bread, wheat bran, and brown pasta, as well as fruits such as blueberries, tomatoes, and blackberries. Eating healthily and packing your body with the right nutrients is good for your physical wellbeing and your mental health, so opting for the right foods will greatly improve exam performance.
While eating healthily can promote better brain function, the right diet can only support you so far. There is no substitute for revision, and memorising the right information is imperative to successfully sitting an examination. This in itself demands dedication and hard work, but there are ways to support your study and help you perform better once you enter the examination room. For example, there are many prompting devices used by students all over the world, these include visualisation (flash cards/prompting cards), rhymes and alliteration. For example; ‘Roy of Yorke, Gave Battle in Vain’ this helps you to remember the colours of the rainbow… Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
While such methods have proven effective over the years, newer research has attributed sound, smell, and taste help you remember facts easier. In one study, it was said that chewing gum during revision, and then chewing the same flavour during the exam, rekindled memories of facts learnt. Similarly, listening to music and associating facts to certain songs and lyrics has been suggested as another way to perform better in examinations. How accurate such studies are, can be the subject of much debate, but it’s worth a try, right?
Where to Study
For many students, higher education often means living in student accommodation surrounded by others. This can prove beneficial, as the motivation needed to perform can be driven by those around you, and can push you to higher standards of performance. There are, however, drawbacks to being surrounded by other people. Noise and distraction can play havoc with any form of revision, particularly if you’re deep in thought and trying to retain essential information.
As such, ensuring you have a space dedicated for quiet study is key. Isolating yourself from others and eliminating sources of distraction enables you to focus on the work in hand, leaving you to better retain the information you need, free from interruption.
General Study Tips
Once you have chosen your area for peaceful study, it’s important that you make it comfortable for use. Also, make sure to organise and clean any clutter before starting work, as cluttered surroundings lead to cluttered thoughts.
You should also look to organise your study into short periods. By working to a schedule that enables regular breaks, you can perform more effectively; sitting down and bulk reading material for hours at a time is counterproductive and will not help you retain necessary information. In fact, take the time to prepare flashcards of essential information that can be referred to regularly during shorter periods of study. Repetition helps you remember, so having these with you at all times could well prove invaluable.
Of course, you should also give yourself time to relax and recover from your study. Sleep is fundamental to performance, so make sure you get good quality rest every night before your examination. It may not be as exciting as staying out late or being up watching television, but your exam scores – and your examination anxiety – will thank you for it.