It is once again the season of despair. You are right; it is exam season. You are probably spending your pre-exam days drinking Nescafe and getting drenched by the cold waters of stress and anxiety. To turn this season of despair into a season of hope, here are 13 study hacks to help you study well and be prepared for the exam season.
1. Define your goals
A lot of people commit the common mistake of starting to study without actually knowing what to study. Get your “To-do- list,” and write down a clear goal that you have to achieve. Ask yourself these questions: What subject/course do I have to study for? When are my exams coming up? Do I have any assignments or homework due? What are the things I need to prioritize first? What is actually crucial for me to start working on today and what is not?
2. Make your study goals achievable
This one is really important. When you decide what to study, you need to be realistic. Please do yourself a favor and do not expect that you can read an entire 600-page textbook in one day or expect that you can study multiple subjects or courses that are very difficult to study on the same day. When you set realistic goals, they will be much easier to achieve and you will lower your chances of getting disappointed. In fact, being able to achieve the goal will make your self-esteem better and in turn, you will be more motivated to study.
3. Take breaks
You do not have to play the martyr and sit the entire day on your desk doing nothing but studying and not taking breaks. You can take a 10 or 15-minute break every five minutes. The important thing to remember about breaks is that they should be on a weekly basis too. For example, you can take a day off and hang out with friends. This will help break the routine and make you more energetic when you get back to studying.
4. Exercise before studying
You do not have to hit the gym if you hate exercising, but you can do any physical activity as simple as going for a 15-minute walk. Exercise makes the blood rush to the brain and your brain becomes activated, so your focus would be improved when you start studying. Also, exercise helps your body release “cortisol”; a hormone extremely important for maintaining your levels of stress.
5. Learn by “chunking”
We all have been put in a situation where we have to learn a great deal of information in an extremely short amount of time. The thing is if you try and do that by studying information the way it is, you will probably not remember most of what you learned. What you can do to remember is this: find a pattern within the information you are trying to learn. For example, group information of similar characteristics with each other.
6. Reward yourself
The human brain is wired to perform better when getting rewarded. Think of it this way: When you know there is something good waiting at the end of the finish line, you will definitely work for things harder and complain less. If you conquer your study schedule for the day, why not reward yourself with chocolate, or why not watch an episode of a series you really like.
7. Control the light around you
The human brain is sensitive to light; that is why our brains become alert in the morning and become tired by night. If you are in a situation where you have to study during the nighttime, turn on all the lights you can turn in the room. Do not study while having a very dim light. Having multiple sources of light can trick your brain into believing that morning is still there and so, your brain will be more alert, and you will be able to focus more.
Yes, that’s right. You are the student, but you can still teach. Bring a stuffed animal or just draw a simple human being on a piece of paper and act as a teacher. Pick a topic and start explaining it in detail to the stuffed animal or the drawn human being. This is a great and creative way for you to make sure you remember information and make studying more fun.
9. The setting matters
Where can you focus the most? Are you a studying at university or school person? Are you most productive when studying in a cafe or a coworking space? If you study in your room, do you like it organized or chaotic? Believe it or not, research showed that some people tend to perform better based on whether they prefer their room to be chaotic or organized.
10. Mental health matters
It is very easy for many of us to get lost in the process of stressing out. Remember to take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your little victories. If you do not achieve all your goals, make sure to still acknowledge your effort and not be so harsh on yourself. Reach out to family and friends for support and if you feel like you can no longer handle your stress, you can reach out to a therapist for help because your mental health can affect your performance in school in addition to other areas in your life as well.
11. Acknowledging distractions
Whether your distraction is your phone or loud noise from the street, please do not ignore it. Find a way to manage the distraction. For example, if the distraction is your phone, there are apps you can download like “Flora” that can help you manage not picking up your phone. If the noise from the streets bothers you, you can buy earplugs to block out the noise.
12. Find entertaining ways to study
You can easily make your notes colorful or make drawings to remember things easily if you are into drawing. Also, you can watch videos on YouTube when something is too hard to remember. This is especially relevant in subjects with a load of information like Biology and Psychology. Do not hesitate to create small flashcards as a way of remembering things instead of revising large chunks of information straight out of the book.
13. Sleep well
Please do not stay up all night studying. Sleep is directly related to memory and focus. Staying up all night might make you look hardworking from the eyes of society, but it is actually wrong. It is better to sleep early and wake up early to make sure that your memory and focus are optimal. In the long run, sleep deprivation will negatively affect your performance.
Good luck conquering the exam season lovely people 🙂