When an exam gets near, it’s natural for stress levels to elevate. But remember, effective studying isn’t about how many hours you spend memorizing pages and pages of notes. To make the most of the limited time you have and get good grades, you need to study smart, not hard.
Here are our top tips to efficiently prepare for your next exam without getting overwhelmed with last-minute cramming.
Table of Contents
1. Develop a Study Plan
Why is this important? It allows you to identify your goals and priorities, get organized, and plan your time effectively to minimize stress.
This is especially important if you’re juggling a tight schedule or your exam is just a few weeks away.
- Start by getting yourself a scheduler and slotting in the exam timetable. Based on this, identify the subjects you need to prioritize and create a detailed plan. Don’t forget to consider your regular routines and commitments when preparing the study schedule.
- Slot in each module or topic on your scheduler so you have absolute clarity on what you must cover each day.
- Plan for study sessions not longer than 60 minutes.
- Reviewing the same topic the entire day could get boring. You can avoid this by switching between subjects.
- Plan to cover difficult lessons that require extra focus during the morning hours when you’re fresh and more alert.
2. Create a Personalized Study Space
A dedicated space will help condition you to get into your “study mode” quickly. It’s the same as how your brain signals you to sleep when you’re in your bedroom or to unwind when you sink into the living room sofa.
- Identify an area in your house that you could use as a study space. Any quiet location where you can focus on exam preparation would do. It could even be a converted garage or loft.
- Make sure it gets enough natural light and ventilation.
- Move your desk near a window so you can gaze outside when tired to allow your eyes a change of scenery.
- Keep all your notes, stationery, printer, and anything else you need close at hand.
- Use storage solutions to keep the room free from clutter.
3. Minimize Disturbances
To improve focus and concentration,
- Place a “do not disturb” sign on the door so your housemates are aware you’re studying.
- Keep the phone in silent mode. Anyone who calls can leave a text or voice message. If there are missed calls from unknown numbers, you can use Nuwber to identify who called you.
- Seal windows to reduce disturbances from outside noise. Alternatively, use noise-canceling headphones.
4. Create Visual Prompts
According to studies, people retain 10-20% of text-based details after three days of studying. This figure goes up to almost 65% for visual information.
Clearly, graphical cues can be powerful tools for anyone preparing for an exam.
Summarizing notes on flashcards, using diagrams, charts, and illustrations to simplify complex processes, and highlighting key points in different colors are excellent options for visually inclined learners.
5. Take Sufficient Breaks
The longer you study, the greater the chance of your focus and memory deteriorating as you get consumed by stress and fatigue. This is why scheduling short breaks between study sessions is necessary.
Take five minutes off to let yourself recuperate—go outdoors and get some fresh air, practice breathing techniques, do some light stretching, talk to a friend, or watch a funny video to take your mind off the lessons.
6. Join a Study Group
Studying with your friends has several advantages. You get to clarify questions, learn from each other, and gain much-needed moral support. It can also force you to stay on course, which is extra important if you tend to get distracted easily.
Of course, group studying isn’t for everyone. Some people learn faster on their own. But it’s certainly worth a try if you’re unsure of your learning style.
7. Teach Someone
Teaching is one of the best techniques for revising what you learn. When you’re explaining a specific topic to someone, you automatically start reflecting on it in detail, making it easier to identify areas you need further clarity.
And when answering questions, you may gain different perspectives and deeper insights that could enhance your understanding of a subject.
8. Take Quizzes
Another excellent revising tool is quizzes. For instance, ask a friend to quiz you on a certain module you’ve studied, use past exam papers, or find relevant tests online to check how much information you’ve retained.
9. Seek Support
Getting ready for a major exam can be stressful for anyone. To tackle it effectively, you may need the support of those around you.
- Ask your family, friends, or housemates to help with the regular chores and responsibilities while you study.
- Speak to your loved ones for support and encouragement when you feel overly stressed or anxious.
- Find a tutor if you think you need additional help learning or revising any of the topics.
10. Celebrate Small Achievements
Treating yourself each time you cross an important study milestone is important to remain motivated to pursue your ultimate learning goals.
So, remember to celebrate every small achievement by, for instance, going out for a coffee with your friends, watching your favorite sitcom, or doing anything else you enjoy.
11. Get Enough Sleep
High-quality sleep is found to boost memory, focus, and cognitive performance. It’s also critical for relieving stress, regulating mood, and strengthening immune functionality to remain physically and mentally fit.
The amount of sleep you require depends on your age. The Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of seven hours for adults of 18 years and above.
For improved sleep hygiene,
- Create a sleep routine to help you go to bed at the exact time each day.
- Prepare your room for optimum sleep by eliminating light- and sound-related disturbances.
- Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature.
- Dress appropriately based on the weather.
- Turn off digital devices and keep them away from your bedroom.
- Avoid exposure to digital screens at least one hour before bedtime.
12. Mind Your Diet
What you eat plays a major role in your ability to focus and study efficiently.
Berries, nuts, salmon, and eggs are some of the best brain foods for a healthy diet. Don’t forget to drink lots of water and stay clear of sugary, greasy, and overly processed foods.
Effectively preparing for an exam takes a combination of deliberate measures to boost your productivity. However, keep in mind that each person is different, and what works for one may not yield the same outcome for another. Therefore, for optimum results, pay close attention to your study style and adopt the techniques that could help you excel in exams.