Well begun is half done!
It's that very special time of year... The time for overcrowded libraries, panicked students and many, many all-nighters. Exam season! It's the time to lock yourself in your room and skip meeting up with friends. In this article we give you 8 tips on how to prepare for your exams. Not only will you ace all your tests, you might even have some *gasp* extra time left over!
1. Make a schedule
The sheer amount of study materials from several different classes can feel totally overwhelming. By creating a schedule you make sure you get an insight in your study materials and it relieves some of the stress of trying to remember what you need to do. Make an overview of all your courses, what materials you need to study for each of them, and when the exam will be. Pull up your calendar and create timeslots for each subject. Schedule in enough time for each course. And we don’t mean just setting apart enough time to read the summary of each chapter. Schedule in exactly what you'll be doing with the materials and when, like taking notes, writing a chapter summary or taking an old exam to practice.
It’s very easy to say to yourself “this is too difficult” or “I can’t do it”, but it’s not worth it spending precious time doubting yourself. You'll have to study anyway. Being negative about it is only going to make it harder. It's been scientifically proven that hyping yourself up with some motivating and stimulating self talk (I can do this, I'm going to study so hard today) ACTUALLY helps! So get to hyping and ace that test!
This is maybe the most cliche and simple study trick there is, but just start. It doesn't have to be perfect. Take that first step, and the rest will follow. Getting yourself to start on something is the hardest part of any task. Just grab some study materials and start reading. Any time you spend studying is better than no time spending studying. Just do it.
To prevent wasting your time it’s good to know where you can study most productively. This could be the library or maybe your own room. Make sure you limit distractions around you, by sitting in a quiet place with only your study materials as company. Maybe turning off your wifi works for you. Some students find it pleasant to study together and form a study group, so you can keep each other motivated and focused on the task at hand. For others this is just an added layer of distraction, so find out what works for you and stick to that routine.
Don’t walk around with a feeling of guilt when you aren't studying for a moment. It’s important to make a clear distinction between studying and having some spare time. It’s more efficient to concentrate on studying for a few focused hours, rather than spending the whole day on your study and only learning a bit. Add some time in your planning for fun activities you can do after completing your daily tasks. Reward yourself with a Netflix marathon or go out with friends.
There are countless of great study techniques. Use these, and repeat, repeat, repeat! Some tips on study techniques: use post-it notes with keywords from the text and categorise them with stickers. By doing this, you get an overview of the most important subjects. Or ask yourself questions about a specific chapter or artcile; what is this about and what is the author’s main argument? Write down your answers and highlight the sentences in the text. If you have a study buddy, take turns teaching each other about the subject you're studying.
It can be difficult to know what you need to learn specifically for the exam, especially if you have a lot of study materials to get through. Try to focus on the main subjects in the texts. Don't overload yourself with information you don't need! Compare your notes from class with the material and go from there. Some text books even have summaries or glossaries you can use as a starting point.
It's not a good idea to lock yourself up in your room or the library and not get any fresh air or exercise for a week straight. Your brain is more productive when you take a break once in a while. So close your laptop, put on your shoes and take a walk. When you'll return you'll be extra productive.