10 Top Tips to Prepare for Exam Season
Exam season can be a stressful time for all of us, but don’t let this get in the way of studying hard and achieving your goals. Follow our helpful studying tips to help you get the most out of your revision.
1. Give yourself enough time
Don’t leave your revision to the last minute. Cramming puts a lot of stress on the brain and can cause unnecessary pressure, making you feel anxious and frustrated. To make the study process more seamless, allow yourself a few weeks before your exams to properly read through your notes and understand everything thoroughly, rather than simply re-reading and memorising. Trust us, you’ll retain much more information this way!
2. Organise your study setup
A tidy space equals a tidy mind. Declutter your desk and make sure you have enough space for your notebooks, textbooks, laptop, or anything else you may need. This will also help curb distractions and keep you focused. If you don’t have a quiet space to study at home then find a local library or coffee shop, wherever you feel most comfortable.
3. Study smarter, not harder
When it comes to studying, it’s all about using your time wisely. There’s no point wasting hours procrastinating or avoiding your least favourite topics. We recommend creating a checklist or plan for what you need to get covered in a certain time frame. This way, you can keep on track of everything and better manage your time. With a proper plan in place, you can get your revision out of the way efficiently and enjoy the rest of your day without worrying!
It’s important to acknowledge that you may not always get everything you want completed and some tasks may take longer than expected. Think of it as more of a rough plan to guide your revision and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t quite complete everything you set out - you can always catch up another day.
4. Take breaks
If you feel yourself losing concentration or struggling to retain information, that’s a clear sign to take a break from studying. Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It’s a useful time management system, designed to improve productivity by completing short tasks in intervals. The Pomodoro Technique involves working consistently for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break with a slightly longer break, around 20 minutes, after every few hours. Taking forced breaks helps avoid burnout and keeps distractions to a minimum for more fruitful revision sessions.
5. Use alternative learning methods
If you’re a visual learner, there are a variety of non-traditional studying techniques you can use to help you retain information, such as:
- colour coding your notes
- drawing visual aids
- creating a mnemonic device
- watching documentaries or online videos
Or why not call up some friends for a study session? Study groups can be effective at helping you see concepts from different perspectives and delve a little deeper, rather than just reading off a page. Sometimes, explaining a concept to someone else out loud can even help you understand it better yourself.
6. Practice, practice, practice
Depending on your course, there are usually a range of past papers and practice questions available to you online. This is one of the most effective ways to revise as it gives you a feel for the question format and an idea of what to expect in the real exam. We recommend carrying out past papers in exam conditions, timing yourself with no additional help, and then going through and marking the paper to find areas for improvement.
7. Switch off
It’s easy to get distracted when revising, with social media being one of the main culprits. In fact, studies reveal that having your phone out while revising can decrease performance by up to 20%. To help avoid this, it’s best to put your phone on silent mode, turn off notifications or hide your devices in a completely different room to fight temptation.
8. Fuel your brain and body
In order to avoid fatigue and stay on top of your game, it’s key to fuel your body with nutritious foods and stay hydrated throughout the day. Healthy foods, like fruits, nuts and leafy greens, are known to improve brain health and help with memory, learning and mood. Snacking on sugary foods can lead to an energy crash and low mood, or even cause headaches and difficulty concentrating.
9. Be mindful
Remember that exams aren’t the be-all and end-all. Your mental health should always come before anything else. That’s why it’s important to take some time out for yourself and relax. Whether that’s treating yourself to your favourite meal at the end of the day, running yourself a bath or taking a day off studying every once in a while. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should always seek help from friends, family or tutors.
10. Know what works best for you
If you’re more productive in the mornings, prioritise your work before you start your day, or if you’re a night owl, schedule your revision for the evenings. Some people prefer to work in silence or with background noise, while others like to throw on their favourite music to get them in the mood and keep them motivated. It’s all about understanding your working preferences and capitalising on this.
Want to improve concentration while studying? Our specially-curated Spotify playlist is just what you might need.
At FDM, we understand the importance of positive wellbeing. That’s why we offer a range of support and development programmes to help our consultants throughout their journey with us.