Year-end exams are just around the corner, and you’ve probably been preparing for some time already. But now is the final dash towards the exams themselves and extra time and focus is needed to prepare properly. Are you doing everything you can to reduce stress and increase your studying effectiveness? Here are six great tips to help you through…
- Have an organised study space
Where are you studying? Do you have a dedicated space that is separated from the hustle and bustle of daily life? Make sure you have enough space to spread out textbooks and notes and that there is enough light. A comfortable chair is essential, make sure it is the right height to avoid back and neck strain. Have all your materials ready before you begin: pencils, pens, highlighters, paper and so on. Your space should be friendly and pleasant with no distractions – lose your video games and social media devices.
- Have a plan
Good planning is essential, use your diary to schedule when you are going to study which subjects. Look to have blocks with 50 minutes of study separated by 10-minute breaks in 3 or 4-hour stretches. Regular breaks are essential for the brain to regain its focus. Take a walk outside. A change of scenery will stimulate your learning. You’ll be surprised at how much more you take in after being outside in the fresh air. Make sure you leave enough space for recreation, family-time and exercise as well as eating and sleeping. You still need to get a full night’s sleep to allow your body and brain the rest they need to absorb all the information you’re working on. Everyone’s different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Or, if you’re more productive at night-time, take a larger break earlier on so you’re ready to settle down come evening.
- Connect with others
Do you study well with others? Consider organising a study buddy, someone who is committed and won’t distract you. Verbalising the information you have been studying by explaining it to others is an essential technique to help retain the information. Collaboration allows you to work off each other’s strong points, you may have questions that others have the answers to and vice versa.
- Use pictures and diagrams
Your brain learns well with colours and pictures. Take your notes and transform them into flow charts, diagrams and mind maps to help you remember more easily. The Western Cape Education Department has a great document with Tips for Success that gives some fantastic examples of how to use visual aids for studying. You can download it here:
There is also a great Mind Map guide available at Parent24.com:
- Use past papers
One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practise on previous exam papers. It gives an idea of what to expect and quickly identifies any gaps in your knowledge. Remember to time yourself as though it were the real thing, this is good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section. Try to get the memoranda for papers that are used by examiners to mark and go through your answers against the memo. Being able to see the steps required for answering maths questions tells you exactly what is expected of you in an exam and precisely how to answer different types of questions. Parent24.com has put together a comprehensive resource with past papers from 2008 up until February 2018 and includes memoranda and answer books. You can download them here:
- Keep healthy and hydrated
What you eat can really have an impact on energy levels and focus. Keep away from junk food and keep your body and brain well-fuelled with nutritious foods that can aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yoghurt and blueberries. You want to choose foods that will provide a slow release of energy, so stick to whole grain foods and low GI products. Keep a bottle of water handy and make sure you stay hydrated, this will also add to your overall positive mood. Here are some studying nutrition tips:
We at Penflex wish you everything of the best for your exams and hope that these tips make your studying a bit easier and more productive. Remember to keep a positive outlook and stay motivated. Your whole life is ahead of you, full of excitement and possibility!