Don’t start crashing at the eleventh hour. While some students do seem to score on last-minute cramming, it is hands down not (for most of us) not the best way to approach an exam. Cultivate a habit make a timetable for your study. List down all the exam topics and dates which you have to sit them. Next, organise your study plan accordingly. Depending on individual, you may want to spend more time on certain subjects than others. (probably the weaker ones).
1. Organize your study space
Ensure that you have enough room for you to spread your textbooks and notes out. Is there enough light in the room? Is your chair comfortable? Are your phones, laptops, computers, out of your sight?
We strongly encourage students to get rid of all distractions, and ensure that you feel as comfortable as possible to have full focus. For some people, this may also mean complete silence, for others, a little background music does helps to increase their ability to focus better. Studies shows that certain group of children needs everything completely tidy and organised in order to concentrate, while others perform better in a more cluttered environment. Take a few minutes and think about what works best for you.
2. Use Flow Charts and Diagrams
Visual aids can be extremely useful when you do your revision. At the start of a new topic, challenge yourself to pen down everything you already know about in that particular topic – and then pay attention to those areas where the gaps lie. Closer to the exam, summarise your revision notes into one-page diagrams. Listing your ideas down in this brief one-page format can then help you to promptly recall everything you need to know during the exam.
3. Practice past year papers
One of the most competent ways to prepare for exams is to practice past year papers / questions. This helps you get used to the style and format of the questions phrased and asked. Concurrently, you may also time yourself while practicing the past year papers. This can also be good form of practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section. Be exam smart, plan your time well and make every minute count.
4. Explain your answers to others
Parents and siblings may be a huge distraction at critical times when you’re preparing for examination. However, you can leverage on them and use them to your advantage. Grab them to be a listening ear. Explain an answer to a question to them. That will help you to get it clear in your head, and also to highlight any areas where you need to brush up more work.
5. Organise study groups with friends
Plan a study date together with a group of friends for a study session. Sometimes, you may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. Most importantly, as long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself to maximise your learning potential with the same amount of time spend studying alone.
6. Take regular breaks
While you may think it’s best to study for long hours continuously, this can actually be counterproductive. Here’s an analogy, if you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t try and run 24 hours a day. Correspondingly, studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks would be more effective to increase your learning curve.
However, everyone’s different, so establish a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Alternatively, if you’re more of a nocturnal person, take a larger break earlier on so you’re prepared to settle down come evening.
Don’t be guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of mugging over your textbooks. Fun fact – Vitamin D is important for forming a healthy brain.
7. Snack on brain food
Sometimes, after a long day of mugging, you may feel like you deserve a treat but what you eat can result in a huge impact on your energy levels and focus, so stay away from junk food. (at the very least) Keep your body and brain energised by favouring nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries.
This applies to exam day too – eat a good meal before the test, it is advisable to consume foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. You wouldn’t want to start growling in exam hall. It can be a huge distraction when you’re trying to pen down your answers. Sugar may seem appealing, but your energy levels will crash an hour later. Best to avoid food high in sugar.
8. Plan your exam day
Make sure you get everything well prepared in advance of the exam. Don’t leave things hanging. Ask around if you have any questions on what to bring to exam hall or what not to bring. Be sure that you have the documents and stationaries before you step into the exam hall. Read through all the rules and requirements thoroughly, and plan your route and journey time. If needed, do a test run of the trip from home to examination hall. If not, note down clear directions to exam hall.