Studying should be an habitual past-time. It is a necessary part of school/university life and is even essential later on, during your career, as a way of keeping up to date with the latest theories, methods and information. Many people fail to realise this, resulting in failed exams and much frustration.
Here are some basic tips for studying success!
- Regular study. The first and most essential tip is that studying needs to be a daily occurrence. Even if you only have the time to flick over some of the notes you’ve taken down in class, it’s easier to study bit by bit, rather than frantically cram the day before the exam.
- Have a break, have a KitKat. However, many studiers take it to the other extreme, going for hours on end without a break. Short 5 minute breaks, every so often, help to keep you fresh and your concentration levels high. Personally, I like to take a 10 minute break for every hour of study, but ultimately it all depends on the individual. You need to work out a timetable that suits you.
- Beauty sleep. Sleep is extremely important. While you sleep your brain processes the information you’ve obtained during the day. When I don’t get enough sleep, I find that I can’t recall as much the following day, meaning I spend even more time going over things I’ve already studied. Be careful though not to waste too much of your weekend in bed. This can make you feel lethargic and unmotivated, leading to less study time.
- Last minute cramming
. Avoid studying new material the day of the exam. Without giving your brain time to convert this new information to your long term memory, it’s unlikely that it will stick around. Later in the exam you’ll waste precious time trying to remember a term or principle you only read about an hour ago.
- Eat well. Energy is key. Without energy you get tired and miserable and, in my case, very grumpy that you are stuck in the study surrounded by books and notes. Make sure you stop to have a proper lunch and decent dinner. I like to keep snacks on the desk while I study to keep my sugar levels high.
- Don’t study in bed. I know it’s cosy and it’s warm and oh so tempting, but you won’t get anything done! Studying in bed doesn’t work. It makes you sleepy and before you know it you’re having a mid-afternoon nap, a subject that is very unlikely to come up in the exam.
- Step away from the gadgets. I can tell you this from experience, do not study in the same room as a tablet, kindle, i-phone or any other electronic device.
A friend of mine left his dissertation to the last minute. The night before it was due in he posted online that he had 5000 words to write. An hour later he had 4000 words left to write. Half an hour later he reached level 98 on Candy Crush. An hour later he had 3400 words left to write. Quarter of an hour later he reached level 102 on Candy Crush. And so on it went. He did eventually finish, however it took him twice as long, simply because he couldn’t pull himself away from his tablet.
- Work from the ground up. Always start with the basic principles first and leave studying any specifics to later, once you have grasped the main ideas. It is easy to get lost in all the little details. Quite often examiners only ask you to give a general explanation of a certain topic. Even though the details will get you a higher mark overall, it’s irrelevant if you can’t remember how to explain the basics.
I hope these few starter pointers are able to help. Try not to stress, if you’ve put in the work, I’m sure your exam mark will reflect that.