Study Methods and Planners for the hopeless

The exam period is one of the most stressful times in the life of a student. Therefore, exam preparation should begin earlier than the day of the exam in order to limit the amount of stress one goes through. Preparation should, ideally, beginning long before exams are underway. To prepare in advance is the way to go, but if we had started preparing much earlier we would not be typical students, now would we? However, let us pretend that we are the ideal students and we will prepare well in advance for everything that has to do with our examination at the end of the year. It is important to make early exam preparation a priority and even if you are feeling anxious about exams, intentional and meaningful preparation can increase your chances at successful exams. By doing a couple of simple things ahead of time, you can ensure that you are confident and ready for anything that comes up on the test. Below are six helpful tips for studying:

1. Make studying a habit early on

The very first thing is to accept that studying is a requirement and it is the reason that we are here, is it not?

The first step is to develop a schedule, this seems like a simple first step. However, a schedule is important while developing a habit of studying. Instead of making a schedule for a whole month which can cause anxiety, make a schedule for everyday goals. Start small and remember that consistency is key to developing a positive study habit. When carrying out studying, begin with 15 minutes at a time and then build up to longer amounts as you progress through the material. Make sure you set aside time to study every day and make sure your schedule is reasonable for each day so that you can easily follow through with it.

2. Create the right study environment

Selecting a place to study is important, make sure it is comfortable (but not too comfortable). There must be limited or no distractions, preferably try not to study in your room because if you are like me, 30 minutes into studying you’ll find yourself on your bed taking a very much underserved nap which lasts 3 whole hours. So, if you feel too comfortable in your room, go out and find the right space somewhere else. Some people prefer going to the library, some prefer nice and cosy cafés and some people actually prefer studying in their rooms. Find what works for you.

3. Maximise your time

We are more alert at particular times of the day. Take advantage of that, if you are a morning person or a night owl, then study during those hours. However, do not study when you are too tired because it is a waste of valuable time and it will not do you any good. Make sure you take a break, periodically stand up, gently rotate your neck, stretch and if possible, take a short walk to get some fresh air.

4. Study aids can be advantageous

There are a number of study aids that you can use as ideas for exam prep. The most common are flash cards, which can come in handy especially in the situation where you need to recall important terms and information. The second one is using videos to try and make sense of whatever material you have to cover and do not limit yourself to using just lecture videos, videos you search for, on YouTube for example, can come in handy. Thirdly, doing past exam papers must be on your list of things to do while preparing for exams because you are actually preparing for the real thing. You can also make voice notes for yourself of you explaining concepts and material which is important in whatever course you are doing. This helps you practice.

5. Revisit and revise

It is important to be aware that going through material once is not enough, you need to constantly go back to the content so that it can be transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory. A useful tool is to say the material aloud and if you can, practice what you have learned by saying it to family, friends and even to yourself. The most important thing to remember is that we learn through repetition, so once is never enough.

6. Visualise your end goal

One of the things that make studying a painful process is that we dwell a lot on how much we do not like what we are supposed to be studying. This is because the whole process of being a student might have become so stressful that we have even forgotten why we chose the course or degree in the first place. As hard as it might be, it is important that we begin every study session with the end in mind, so it is important to visualise yourself at the end, when you have successfully passed your exams. Try to imagine how happy you will be when this is all over, use this as motivation.

As we embark on the exam period - if there is nothing else you take away from this- keep this much in mind; do not expect to retain any information you try to learn at the last minute. Try to plan ahead and plan every part of your day as much as you can. Preparation is key.