We all know the drill by now. You spend months dedicating your life to your studies and your success or failure is often solely dependent on your exams. To add to the stress of exams, most of the time – they’re all crammed into a week or two. This may understandably seem like a recipe for stress and dread, but there are a number of ways to improve your performance during exams. Here are six tips to help you study for your exams and get the best results possible.
How to Prepare for Exams in a Week
1. Make an Action Plan
If you don’t define what you do while you study, you’ll basically set yourself up for endless hours in the library mindlessly reading texts and taking notes that won’t actually help you remember the material you need to remember. Instead, if you create a detailed action plan outlining when to study what you’ll be able to get organized and understand when your day starts and when it will end.
For example, an action plan might look something like this;
- 10am – 12pm – Go over pages 1-30 in English Literature book
- 12 – 12:15pm – Snack break
- 12:15 – 1pm – Highlight relevant materials and make notes
- 1pm – 2pm – Read through all your notes.
In addition, it has also been reported that the most effective studying happens in short, concentrated bursts, so making an action plan will ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew and we’re also sure you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of your study session, instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff you have left to do.
2. Take Practice Tests
Chances are that by now, your teachers have given you plenty of practice questions, essay topics and a variety of other materials to get your mind in test mode, and of course to provide you with examples to get you ready with what’s to come. Not only do practice questions and tests help you work through a semester’s worth of material, they also make you more familiar with the structure of the exam and ultimately reduce test anxiety. So what are you waiting for? Start answering those questions!
3. Stop Procrastinating
The opposite of focusing intensely, is not being able to focus at all and while it’s been reported that devoting too much time to studying can lead to tiredness, splitting your revision sessions up too much can lead to ineffective learning. We understand that turning off all your social media accounts for weeks isn’t an option in this day and age however, do consider using social media as a reward for revising.
With BlockSite’s ‘Work Mode’ you can split your revision sessions up and take breaks when you wish. While taking those breaks, feel free to check in on friends, look at your Instagram feed and catch up on your Facebook newsfeed for 5 minutes during your break. To top it off, you won’t have to worry about being on there for too long as after the time frame you selected on BlockSite is up, the sites will be blocked again – making sure you go straight back to revising. Simple.
This method of working follows the Pomodoro Technique and often helps to keep you on track and your mind fresh and sharp not to mention that you’ll absorb the materials your learning much better and be way more efficient with your time.
4. Try Different Revision Methods
By experimenting with different methods of studying, you’ll be able to narrow down what works best for you. If you have more than one exam, you might plan to study for each one individually – depending on when the exam is scheduled for. Interestingly, research has shown that human brains are not designed to focus on one thing for long periods of time. So, an option as a way of revising may be to work on an individual subject for an hour or two, and then switch.
Maybe you’re used to splitting your time equally, so you could try not doing that and instead, spend longer on one subject than another. By doing this, you may find that your retention increases and the repetition that comes from revising material more frequently will help you remember it more clearly.
5. Sleep Before an Exam
We know it can often be tempting to stay up all night before an exam cramming in all the revision you can but it’s been proven to be less effective than we thought. Eight hours of sleep before an exam is the ideal amount you need. You’ll need the energy and focus for the exam so if you don’t sleep, chances are you’ll be less effective. Not to mention, that the content and material you cram the night before won’t all stay fresh in your brain. The likelihood is that you’ll actually stress yourself out and confuse yourself. For the last minute reviser – we recommend a couple of days before using the flashcard method of studying. They are quick reminders that can earn you a few more marks on test day and it’s a much healthier thing to do that starting on page one of the textbook.
6. Reward Yourself for Revising
How do you stay motivated when you’re really not in the mood to revise? Treat yourself! It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to revise non stop, so build in breaks as rewards. This system has a whole bunch of benefits too – it makes material more digestible, you’ll be more driven to get things done as there’s a reward at the end of the session and your brain will benefit from the refresh. So what can you reward yourself with? Well, as we mentioned before – checking social media during a break could be one option. Catching up on the news could be another or taking a quick stroll to get some fresh air is also a great option – anything that removes you from studying for a short while will help.
Exam Success Tips
Now that we’ve provided you with the best success tips, we need to remind you of the final and maybe most important one. Take a deep breath and relax. You’ve got this. You’ve done this before and survived and you’ll do it again, and survive. If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long. You’ve got this. Good luck!