We all want good grades, but when students begin to feel the pressure of the exam period, many find themselves cramming and missing out on sleep – which doesn’t help your grades at all.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to help get you through the exam period happier, healthier and smarter!
For more help with your studies, check out our study tips page.
Hack #1. Preparing
- Make a pact with your friends to save the parties for after exams.
- Find out what kind of exam you are sitting (multiple choice, essay, open book) and how long it is. Then set yourself a study plan with clear goals.
- Set study reminders on your phone, or put up a calendar.
- Stock your fridge with nutritious food.
- If you like to study in groups, pick your A-team now and arrange to meet up.
- Decide if you want to use the academic help and resource centre at your uni and make an appointment.
View our guide to using Google Drive as a student.
Hack #2. Creating a good study-lifestyle
- It’s essential to get a good night’s sleep every night. Studies show that just one bad night’s sleep can impair your judgment for several days after.
- Feed your brain well – lots of fruit, vegetables, and water – so that it can operate at maximum capacity.
- Cut back on caffeine; it will keep you up when you need to rest and increase your anxiety levels.
- Exercise at least once a day to reduce anxiety and stress. Exercise also improves learning ability by reducing cognitive decay.
- When you’re not studying, let yourself relax properly. Meditate if you can.
- If you feel stressed, talk to friends or school counselor.
- Stay inspired- make a list of the reasons why you want to do well in the exams and stick them on your wall.
Hack #3. Studying smart
- Research shows the best way to learn is to study in 30-minute intervals and then take a break.
- Make a goal for each study session – know what you want to learn by the end of each one.
- Turn off your phone (or use the SelfControl app).
- To really learn something – try to teach it! Explaining something out loud forces your brain to organise information in the most logical way. Practice by teaching your friends, your dog… anyone who’ll sit still.
- Skip the highlighting and underlining; studies show this in an ineffective way to learn.
- Instead, make mnemonic devices, flash cards, record notes and play them back to yourself, make colourful notes and diagrams or try building models.
- Get your hands on practice tests (or you and your friends can make them for each other).
- Study a little bit just before you go to bed. Research shows that we have better recall of the things we learn just before we doze off.
Hack #4. Be ready on the day
- Know exactly when and where the exam is and leave home earlier than you have to.
- Pack everything you need (student ID, calculator, pens, water) the night before.
- Have a big nutritious breakfast. Studies have found that skipping breakfast can result in a 20-40% reduction in thinking skills.
- Bring a snack to munch on before you start: nuts and dried fruit are excellent brain food.
Hack #5. Exam strategies
- Make sure you put your name on the paper!
- Read all the questions carefully.
- If you get stuck on a question, move on to something you do know and then go back to it.
- Keep an eye on the time.
- Don’t leave anything unanswered if you can help it.
After the exam…
Congratulate yourself; you did it! Time to relax and think about the holidays.