11 Study Tips To Help You Prepare for an Exam
It’s a common fact that exam periods are a daunting time for many students. While it’s important to remember that there are no shortcuts for hard work, there are ways you can train your brain to remember information, which will support your ability to learn and aid your study process.
Everyone has a different approach when it comes to studying–or revision, as it is called in the UK– and there is no right way to prepare for an exam. So here are our top tips and tricks that will help you get the best out of your study sessions.
Make a note of important dates
It may sound obvious, but one of the first things you should do is to make a note of important dates – make sure to record when your assignments are due, what date and location your exams are, and whether you have any other commitments that you need to factor into your studying timetable.
Keep your study materials in one place
Once you have finalized your timetable, it’s important to create a designated area where you will be able to study with no distractions. Remove any distractions and gather all your notes, textbooks, assignments, and practice papers and keep them in one place.
Make yourself an exam preparation calendar
One of the biggest mistakes students make when studying is not planning their exam preparation in advance, giving themselves an overwhelming amount of things to learn in a short space of time. The best way to avoid this is to create a calendar. First, make a list of all the topics and subjects that you need to learn. Then work out how many days you have to learn them and divide your time according to the subjects that need the most attention. This process should help you to highlight areas that need more work, and should help you to add structure to your studying.
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Whether you’re learning something from scratch or simply revisiting what you previously studied, a great way to learn is to take notes. There is no correct way of taking notes, but the general rule of thumb is to summarize information – don't copy full sentences, be concise and write down what is truly relevant. Another handy tip is to separate your notes into headings and sections and to bullet point your sentences – during your exam you’re likely to remember the format of notes when they are written in clear lists as opposed to long, wordy sentences.
Once you have written out your notes, a popular way of differentiating your revision is to color code. Whether you choose to color code your notes by subject, topic, module or date, many people find that colors provide a subconscious link to their subjects and help to jog their memory in an exam.
Unlike note taking, flashcards are a revision style that should be used once you have started to understand and absorb the material you have been learning. The basic idea behind flashcards is to write a key word on the front side, and short, explanatory sentences on the back. Your brain is given a clue on the front side, and forces your brain to recall the information that is on the back. Used to remember key terms, definitions and vocabulary, flashcards are an effective method of memorization.
Mind Maps (or Brainstorm Diagram)
A mind map is a diagram that represents a key topic that is featured in the center of a page. Branches are drawn from the center, with major ideas and factors being linked to the central concept, and other associated ideas being branched out from there. This type of revision is very popular with students, as it is a creative way of organizing your notes on paper, helping many students to visually memorize their notes.
Drink plenty of water
It may seem like a simple idea, but drinking water during your revision sessions is extremely important in maintaining your motivation. Water keeps you hydrated, which reduces stress and improves your concentration.
You may not think it, but exercise is a fantastic way of clearing your mind during overwhelming exam periods. Not only does exercise help to reduce stress, it also increases the flow of oxygen to your brain, which improves your concentration, productivity and memory. This ultimately impacts your overall performance and mindset.
Although exams can be very stressful, it’s important not to get bogged down with negative thoughts. Try not to focus on how much on all the work you still have to do; focus on the positive work you have done and how confident you feel in the subjects that you have already covered.
Work in groups
Although it is not a method that works for everyone, working in groups has been credited as an effective way of revising and staying motivated. Joining a study group allows students to learn by exploring the thoughts and ideas of others. You expand your understanding of a topic by exploring other people’s interpretations. It will also give you the opportunity to test and quiz each other.
Remember, this is no right or correct way of preparing for an exam, so play around with some of the tips above, and find your own individual plan that works for you!