Hi there (: Before reading this post, I recommend sitting down with a hot mug of tea/coffee and a packet of biscuits because this post is going to be quite long!
I stumbled upon one of my very old blogposts from my fetus blog and there was a very extensive “study + exam tips” post, so I thought I’d repost it on here with some of the information tweaked (that is, fix up my grammar mistakes and make the language sound somewhat more sophisticated and structured):
Every exam that I study for, I always write a set of notes and summaries. Personally, they’re quite useful for me because as I write notes, I also remember what I write. It depends on what types of study methods you prefer but for note-writing, here are a few tips:
- Making it visually appealing:
I recommend writing notes in a set of different colours and font sizes since it’d be easier to remember. For example, write all the main headings in capital with a highlight, and write the subheadings in red.
By using a wide range of colours, you’re able to remember and visualise it easier later on.
- Picking out what to write:
Something that I struggle with whenever I write notes is choosing what to write. I’m a major word-hoarder, meaning that I’ll write everything in my notes, which is really bad since it’s not actually summarising. It’s more of copying the text word for word. Over the past few exams, I’ve learnt that in my notes, I only need the “super” main points like topic sentences at the start of each paragraph in a textbook. In text book paragraphs, most topic sentences summarise everything that will be discussed in the paragraph. Don’t go through the trouble of summarising everything because the rest of the paragraph will most likely contain examples, context, and definitions. I recommend taking small notes on these and expanding on the topic sentence.
- Media, images and diagrams:
As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in notes, that is quite true. Diagrams and charts can show the same amount of information as two or three paragraphs of text. In my notes, I always aim to draw as many colourful diagrams, charts and cycles as possible. Since they’re colourful, they’re easier to visualise and remember during the exam and also, the points in which you’re meant to be studying are basically explained in diagrams.
You’ve written notes; now what?
Well, after writing notes, you’ve got to start studying them. I find it good to find points that you have no clue about, and remember and practice those.
- Create/Take quizzes:
A great way to see how much of the content you’ve remembered is taking or creating quizzes. During 8th and 9th grade, I remember creating tons of quizzes for myself about the points I was meant to study. The questions were very general but they did help me to remember my notes. I recommend creating them on Powerpoint and scrolling through the slides to quiz yourself. If you aren’t bothered to create quizzes, there are always many online. Tons of educational websites have quizzes about a wide range of subjects from maths to science. At my school, my teachers used to give us past exam papers to do. If possible, you can always ask your teachers for those, or search for some online. I recommend marking down the questions you get wrong, so you can study them later.
- Read through them:
Another studying technique is also skimming through a section of your notes then reciting them aloud to test your memory.
- Study with other people:
Your classmates are probably cramming and studying for the exam like you are, so wouldn’t it be a good idea to study with them? I recommend joining Skype calls or chats with your friends who are also studying. It’s a good way to share and examine content, as well as learn new material.
How to prepare for your exams:
Okay. Now this section, I learnt through ALOT of experience. When it comes to preparing for exams physically and mentally, I absolutely suck at it. But through experience, I’ve learnt essential things that you should do to prepare for them.
- Get enough SLEEP!:
I 100% recommend you get a full night’s sleep before your exam.
I used to stay up until 3 or 4am just writing notes, reciting them and repeating the procedure over and over. I would only have 2 or 3 hours sleep, having to wake up at 7am to prepare for school. The hours leading up to the exam were torturous. I was tired, groggy, and couldn’t keep my eyes open. Not to mention, I was also in a grumpy and foul mood since I was too tired. When the time to actually do the exam came around, I remember my mind just going blank as I sat there and tried to remember my notes. But I couldn’t! Because I was way too tired to remember anything!
So yeah, get a good night’s sleep!
- Eat all your meals!
Back then, I used to skip meals frequently since I couldn’t afford to lose or waste time that could be spent studying. So I would go from the afternoon till the next morning with little to no food or meals. Thinking back, that probably was extremely unhealthy since I’d go to school with no food or energy in my system.
I recommend taking regular food breaks, just to get your energy back up, and to make sure that you’re staying healthy!
- Study early!
Most people lose sleep and don’t eat because they have NO time at all. Study early and write your notes early for your exam. It definitely pays off in the long run and you don’t have to stuff up your sleeping patterns at all. I believe starting to write your notes when you get your assessment notification is good. It may be hard to start, but remind yourself that it’ll be beneficial in the long run!
- Calm yourself down:
Most people, including myself, panic or develop extreme nerves before an exam due to a number of reasons. The main one would probably be the idea of failing the test. I believe eating some food, drinking something warm like tea or coffee, and just ignoring the fact that you have an exam are some good ways to calm yourself down or cope with the knowledge of having an exam. It’s easier said than done, but trust me, once you persuade yourself that you’re prepared, and that you’ve studied as much as you possibly could, you’ll be much more calm.
Talk to some friends about an interesting or controversial topic in the media. Or repeat to yourself that you’re going to get it over and done with, and then you’d be able to relax.
Those are some of the study + exam tips that I’ve learnt from experience for studying for exams and coping with the bucket of nerves that come with it.
Good luck studying (: