Preparing for exams and studying can be daunting. If you've never been taught how to study, it might not be clear that there is definitely an art to it! Luckily, studying is a skill that can be taught. In this article, we will provide you with 3 study tips for exams that will help you succeed. We will also explore some extra tips to help you throughout the examination period.
Why Making Use of Effective Study Tips is Important
There are a variety of study methods and tips that have been scientifically proven to help students prepare for exams and understand the material they are studying. These methods will typically take time to implement; however, once you truly understand a piece of work, you will understand it forever.
A syllabus and the course content are designed to start off with basic concepts. These basic concepts are expanded and built upon complex concepts. Therefore, it is important to understand each concept before moving on to another section or concept. If you approach studying in this manner it will be easier to move forward and understand new learning material.
Consequently, making use of effective study tips will not only make studying easier, but they will reduce the anxiety and stress that is often associated with preparing for exams.
3 Effective Study Tips for Students
When it comes to studying, there are three tips that have been proven to be effective in helping students understand and retain information. These tips, when applied correctly, will also shorten the studying time and help students work through the course material before the exam, ensuring that they feel confident in the information to be covered.
1. Plan Your Course of Action
Planning your course of action is extremely important and should start at the beginning of a semester. Students should plan out the amount of time they will spend on each subject and on each section contained within the subject.
Once the student has worked through the course material, it is time for exam preparation. At this stage, another planning phase should be initiated. After working through the course material, the student should have a clear understanding of which subjects they struggle with most. It could be a good idea to allocate more study time to those subjects. There might also be certain sections and pieces of information that a student experiences more difficulty with. These sections should also receive more time and attention.
Once you have a plan, you can feel confident in knowing that if you stick to it, you will succeed.
It should also be mentioned that a plan should be realistic. For example, it is unrealistic for a student to study until 12 at night and wake up at 4 am the next morning to continue studying. This could cause a student to experience burnout.
2. Determine Your Learning Type
Before you start studying, it is important to determine what your learning type is. The concept of learning types is known as the VARK model and is based on the understanding of brain psychology.
The theory is that every person’s brain absorbs and understands information in different ways. To be more precise, the VARK theory suggests that there are 4 different types of learning. Each learning style requires the student to apply a different type of learning method in order to understand and retain information.
A visual learner will find themselves drifting off and losing focus when listening to a podcast for example. However, they will be hyper-attentive when something is being explained by means of drawings or when watching a video.
It is therefore important for these learners to draw while learning. For example, they would do best drawing a picture of chemical bonds while studying chemistry. Therefore, try to incorporate charts, illustrations, graphs, and diagrams in your studying. Even a mindmap with lots of colours and illustrations can be helpful for visual learners.
Quite the opposite of a visual learner, an aural learner, otherwise referred to as an auditory learner, will love listening to information and will typically enjoy listening to the radio or will easily recall information that was shared with them aurally.
These learners will typically retain information best when hearing it. Therefore, while studying, they should try to transcribe written information into auditory recordings that they can listen to. They can also try to create songs out of the information they must retain and it can help to recite learning material allowed to themselves. One-on-one tutoring also tends to work for these individuals as they can verbally communicate and listen to the tutor.
While this element of the VARK theory is defined as reading, it does encapsulate both reading and writing. These students will find that they easily remember and understand information by reading through the work and writing it out. These are typically students that are “note-heavy”, as they love taking notes in class, making notes in their textbooks, and will often colour-code the information they write down.
For these students, studying is pretty straightforward and consists of traditional studying techniques such as reading through the textbook and making summaries of the information. They can also benefit from writing stories that encapsulate the information they need to memorise and understand.
A kinaesthetic, or tactile learner, is a student that learns best by practically doing things or interacting with a physical object. While this might seem like a challenging learning style to accommodate, there are certain tips and tricks one can utilise to include such learning in one's studying practices.
These include physically conducting experiments, creating flashcards and having a study buddy ask you questions, and doing a physical activity while learning such as walking or tapping your foot. It is also extremely important for these students to take regular breaks where they physically do something.
3. Work Through Past Papers
It is useful to work through past papers as part of the studying process, as this will give you an idea of whether or not you have the necessary understanding of a concept in order for you to apply it in an examination situation.
Working through these papers will also give you a clear indication of the type of questions examiners ask. It is also advisable to set a limit on the time you have to complete a past paper as this will prepare you for the speed at which you will have to answer questions.
Extra Tips to Help You Study
Other than the 3 most important study tips covered above, there are some extra tips that you can utilise to get the best out of a studying session.
- Organise Your Space: Organising your space will not only make it easier to find study materials and supplies but it will also help you feel more organised as a whole. This can be extremely beneficial to the learning process as it creates a more practical space that is less distracting.
- Remove Distractions: Speaking of distractions, it is best to put your phone away, switch the tv off, remove the radio, and create a space that allows you to entirely focus on the task at hand. If this feels extreme, you can schedule short breaks where you are allowed to have screen time. This will not only remove the distraction, but will motivate you to finish a certain piece of work before being allowed to revisit your phone for a bit.
- Get Enough Sleep: It is extremely important to ensure that you get a full 8 hours of sleep while studying. Not only does your body need this time to rest, reset, and regain strength, but your brain does too. If you don't get enough sleep, your brain will not be able to focus and retain information as easily.
- Take Regular Breaks: It is good to get up every hour and a half to 2 hours and stretch your legs. This will give you a boost of energy and almost act as a “quick power nap” for your brain. A break can be between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthily: Our bodies cannot function without water and staying hydrated is extremely important to brain function! Therefore, try to drink between 1 and 2 litres of water throughout the day. It is also advisable to stay away from junk food during the studying and examination periods. Try to fuel your body with healthy foods to increase brain function and attention span.
- Emulate an Examination Environment: Once you feel you have entirely prepared for your examination. Try to complete a past or two under examination conditions. Therefore, sit in a secluded and silent room, set a timer, try an examination paper you have never completed, and see how it goes! This should help prepare you and reduce your nerves on the big day.
While it might be challenging to prepare for exams, you should find it easier to do so if you apply these tips to your studying process. We hope that these tips can be of value to you in your next phase of examination preparation as we are always rooting for the success of our students!