Give yourself enough time to study
Do not leave it until the last minute. Although some students seem to thrive on last-minute stuffing, it is widely accepted that (for most of us) this is not the best way to approach an exam. To help you better manage your time, set up a schedule for your study. Write down the number of exams you have and the days you have to take them. Then organize your study accordingly. You may want to give some exams more study time than others, so find a balance that you feel comfortable with.
Organize your study space
Make sure you have enough space to distribute your manuals and notes. Do you have enough light? Is your chair comfortable? Are your computer games out of sight?
Try to get rid of all distractions and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to concentrate as possible. For some people, this may mean almost complete silence, for others, background music helps. Some of us need everything to be perfectly tidy and organized in order to concentrate, while others thrive in a more crowded environment. Think about what works for you and take the time to do it right.
Use flow charts and diagrams
Visual aids can be very useful during revision. At the beginning of a topic, challenge yourself to write down everything you already know about a topic, then highlight any gaps. Closer to the exam, condense your review notes into one-page diagrams. Writing your ideas in this brief format can then help you quickly recall everything you need to know during the exam.
Practice on old exams
One of the most effective ways to prepare for the exams is to practice the earlier versions. This helps you get used to the question format and, if you time yourself, it can also be a good practice to make sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.
Explain your answers to others
Parents and younger siblings don’t have to be boring at exam time. Use them to your advantage. Explain an answer to a question. This will help you be clear in your head and highlight any areas where you need more work.
Organize study groups with friends
Get together with friends for a study session. You may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. As long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed-upon amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself.
Take regular breaks
While you may think it is best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t try to run 24 hours a day. Similarly, studies have shown that for long-term knowledge retention, taking regular breaks is really helpful.
Everyone is different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early and take a break at lunch. Or, if you’re more productive at night, take a longer break earlier so you’re ready to settle in at night.
Try not to feel guilty about enjoying the sun instead of bending over your textbooks. Remember that vitamin D is important for a healthy brain.
Snack on brain food
You may feel like you deserve a treat or that you don’t have time to cook, but what you eat can really impact energy levels and concentration, so avoid junk food. Keep your body and brain well nourished by choosing nutritious foods that help with concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries. The same applies on the day of the test – eat a good meal before the test with foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. Sugar may seem appealing, but your energy level will plummet an hour later.
Plan your test day
Make sure everything is ready well in advance of the exam – don’t leave it overnight to find out that you don’t know the way or what you are supposed to bring. Check all the rules and requirements, and plan your itinerary and travel time. If possible, do a test drive. If not, write down clear instructions.
Calculate how long it will take to get there, then add extra time. You really don’t want to get there after having to run halfway or feel exhausted from getting lost. You can also plan to go to the exam with friends or classmates, as long as you know they will probably be on time.
Drink lots of water
As a final tip, remember that it is essential that your brain is functioning optimally. Make sure you continue to drink plenty of water throughout your review, as well as on the day of the exam.