Top 10 Ways To Get The Best Results From Your Exam Study Time
Guest Post by: Nicola Steel - 09.01.2019
Are you studying for your next exam? Looking for a better way to study? To help you manage your revision more effectively, Mobile Minds has pulled together a list of the top 10 ways to get the best results from your exam study time.
1. Create an Exam Study Timetable
Complete a study timetable using a calendar. Start with your exam dates and work backwards, scheduling the time you feel is needed for each exam. Having a plan and sticking to it ensures what you have laid out is achievable in the time and gives you clear guidance on focusing on your study. Print your timetable and display it in a prominent place where you can easily see it.
Dedicating time to focused study allows you to be more efficient, more productive and it reduces the chances of less effective time being an issue. Make sure you make the most of your study time. Multi-tasking has been proven to be less effective when trying to get things done to a set timescale.
2. Take Regular Breaks
Be realistic about what can be achieved in the timeframe you have; this is very important. You must take regular breaks because without regular breaks you will not be able to maintain concentration and you will not achieve the best results from your study time. There is a limit to how much you can concentrate for at any one time, before you stop being productive and are no longer retaining the knowledge. Make sure you highlight rest periods clearly on your timetable so that study hours are well spent and you look forward to time off. By working hard and scheduling this time you can avoid feeling guilty for taking time off and you will be able to go back to your studies refreshed and with a renewed purpose.
During your time out, do something completely different to take your mind off studying and change the way you feel. Stretching helps to relieve any tension that has built up and will ease any stiffness from sitting for long periods. Deep breathing exercises help to re-energise you and regulate your emotions. Doing any physical exercise increases blood flow and delivers more oxygen to the brain that is good for mental alertness. It’s also important to give your eyes a break from intense screen use or focus.
There are now so many great apps to help you practice mindfulness. We would recommend downloading a couple. Our favorites are Headspace and Unplug Meditation.
It’s important to practice self-compassion while studying and not to be too hard on yourself or neglect other things. This is where taking breaks can be used to reward yourself for the hours you’ve put in and take time out to do something you enjoy and change your environment.
3. Give Yourself Time
The more time you allow yourself, the more chance you give yourself of success. To master anything takes time and in order to retain knowledge, it should be learned over a longer period of time. So, leave yourself plenty of time and avoid cramming for the exam. The more time you allow yourself, the more space you will have given yourself to learn, and the less pressured and more confident you will be.
With time, confidence in your knowledge will grow and you will feel prepared and ready for the exam. Stick to your timetable as your new daily routine, putting the hours in beforehand will help you avoid feeling like you haven’t done enough if the exam doesn’t go well on the day.
4. Syllabus Weightings
In creating your timetable, not all your time needs to be equal across each subject or exam; spend more time on those areas you find most difficult. It's important to give some thought around what to study and the time you allocate to each area. Prioritise those syllabus areas that are most likely to come up and check out past exam papers and syllabus weightings for these topics. This allows you to make the best use of your time. Remember not to question spot; have an understanding of the syllabus areas more generally to be able to answer different questions and apply your knowledge. This way you can earn marks more easily, attempting to answer all the questions gaining the easiest marks first (which is the low hanging fruit analogy).
5. Study Environment
This often gets overlooked, but your environment can have a profound impact on your state of mind and your ability to concentrate. It is crucial that your study space works for you.
It’s important that your study space allows you to create an inner calm that allows you to concentrate. This includes being able to switch off to all distraction so that they don’t break your concentration. Make sure you have what you need around you so you don’t need to break off. Each time your attention is diverted away, it takes time to refocus.
Low background noise to break the silence may work for you whilst other people will find this interferes with their concentration. Likewise, you may find isolating yourself works best, whilst others prefer to study with friends to feel less alone. Do what works best for you.
6. Fuel for your Mind & Body
Have a few healthy snacks to hand whilst studying to avoid negative emotional eating habits (often resulting in weight gain) or eating unhealthily due to a lack of planning. The food you eat during this time is particularly important for sustaining energy levels and a good state of mind.
Water is another fuel your body needs to keep going, so make sure you stay hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks that will cause an increase in your blood sugar levels resulting in spikes in your energy levels. Think of food as fuel for your mind and body, eating the right foods is linked to your performance.
7. Good Sleeping Habits
It is really important to get enough sleep whilst studying for exams, as these can be mentally demanding. Sleep allows you to absorb and retain the information that you have learned and means you will recall information more easily. Due to time pressures most people often sacrifice quality sleep for more study time but good quality sleep is intrinsically linked to your results. Time spent cramming the night before an exam would be better spent winding down. At that point, it will make little difference to the outcome and it’s more about your preparation to date.
It’s also important to study at a time that suits you. If you find your best concentration is in the still of the night, you might get your sleep by taking short restorative naps during the day. Do what works best for you. Whether an early bird or a night owl, study when you are at you’re most alert and can be most productive.
8. Practice Exam Questions
Start early practicing exam questions from past papers and do as many as you can. This is the best preparation for an exam. Students often waste valuable time revising theoretical knowledge and feel uncomfortable starting question practice until they feel they know enough. However, the answers will give you the relevant theory to answer the questions and also it’s the practical application of the theory that will gain higher marks. Try not to look at the answers before having a go at the questions yourself and remember don’t be discouraged by the answers in the back of the book. These are model answers often written by examiners, and other answers can gain marks. By doing question practice you will familiarize yourself with exam standard questions and you will know what to expect in your exam. This will help you be more confident and keep composure in the exam.
9. Exam Study Methods
By now you will have perhaps figured out your preferred study method and what works for you and everyone else is different. However, as well as the different study methods, it’s worth thinking about if you can choose between a few study methods for at different times to give you a break from one. This change will allow you to spend long hours studying overall than you would perhaps be able to with one way and also gives you different ways of remembering the same information to increase the likelihood of retaining the information. For example, listening to your study notes means you are still learning while not actively studying.
Using others as a sounding board can also be effective. Ask a family member, partner, friend or person who is there for you for some of their time and they will be happy to support you. The other person might not understand the content but this doesn’t matter. It’s the process of talking it through out loud that cements your knowledge and helps to identify any gaps in your understanding which you can then go back to. Similarly, using public speaking techniques such as speaking out loud and looking in the mirror when speaking can help you reaffirm what you know with confidence.
10. Post a Problem
It’s useful when you become stuck, frustrated or overwhelmed to reflect on how far you have come and take a step back to see the bigger picture. Don’t waste too much time struggling in one area, and let this undermine your efforts. Recapping on what you already know will show you how far you have come and increase your confidence, as well as putting the problem into perspective. Even gaining some motivation from elsewhere might inspire you or just be what you need to hear at that time to help you get back on track. This also helps when overwhelmed as you are looking backward at what you have already achieved rather than at what there is still to do. Try not to focus on it as a whole but break work down into smaller tasks to further avoid being overwhelmed.
When you need specific advice on your studies to get you through a problem and help through your normal channels is not available or where time is of the essence, seek help and get the support you need, go online - Post a Problem at www.mobilemindsonline.com and check out more valuable advice on our website.
Good luck with your exams