False! When it comes to studying, it’s quality over quantity. Spending 15 hours of the day switching between Netflix, Facebook and your notes won’t allow the content to sink in effectively. Dedicate good time, not a lot of time, to your work.
2. Use caffeine to fuel your study sessions.
If you’re buzzing off 4 cups of coffee a day before your exam, you’re going to burn yourself out. Sleep and eat well, and you will have more than enough energy to achieve your goals.
3. Highlighters are magic!
Are you synesthetic? If you are, this might work, but colouring your notes to look like a Mardi Gras parade will not make them any more memorable in terms of content. Instead, focus on using language and organising your work in a way that is easy to digest FOR YOU. Not everything in your notes is important, try condensing your work into manageable chunks.
4. Put it on a palm card!
Putting your notes into palm cards might make them more convenient, but is that convenient for the mind? If you’re regurgitating your notes into small scraps, the information won’t do anything but change aesthetic forms. Palm cards might not work for you if you re-write the information completely! Focus on buzzwords that remind you of key pieces of information, or case studies that link to your notes, rather than entire paragraphs of things you already understand.
5. Re-reading your notes
After spending 5 days writing comprehensive notes, do you ever read over them and feel like it isn’t sinking in? It probably isn’t, not because you’re not smart, your mind probably just wants to apply its monumental power in other ways. Start doing some past exams instead! Applying the knowledge you’ve learnt will set the information in stone, far better than reading the same line over and over again.
6. Binging on (unhealthy) snacks when you study
Let’s face it – snacking is a basic part of student life. A short stroll through the Main Library will attest to the popularity of a bag of chips or assorted jelly snakes to accompany a long study session. But snacks like these can lead to sugar spikes which make you irritable, unfocused and easily distracted; exactly what you don’t want when you’re trying to get your head around difficult content. If you’re genuinely hungry, it’s much better to eat a proper meal and then sit down to study afterwards; delaying your appetite with unhealthy snacks will put you in the wrong mindset for a long study session. However, if snacking is your thing, swap out chips and chocolate for fruit and nuts!
7. Only studying in one specific place
Although having your own space to study can help you control your study environment, recent studies have shown that this practice is actually detrimental to recalling information in the exam room. With its anxious atmosphere, time constraints, and impossibly uncomfortable chairs, the exam room is an inherently foreign environment. By learning new information in differing environments with varying noise levels and ambiences, your brain’s ability to recall important information on the day of an exam is greatly benefited. Try mixing up your usual study space; it never hurts to get a little sunshine while you’re re-learning half your course!
8. Obsessing about marks
It is a good thing to take pride in your work, especially when it results from hours of concentration and effort. But if you’re spending time obsessing over individual marks and spending energy on trying to calculate what grades you’re getting based on each tasks, it’s definitely worth taking a deep breath and focusing on what you can improve on. Putting too much emphasis on your marks can make the usual stresses of the exam period all the more agonising. Try and think of your study as improving your knowledge and your skill set, rather than achieving a specific grade.
9. Study buddies…
By this point of the semester it’s not unlikely that you’ve already found a group of friends studying the same course. You might even be inclined to organise your own study groups to bounce information off each other and assist with difficult topics. But in truth, the main benefit of studying with your friends is that you’re pressured to remain accountable and stay on track. Even if you can manage to stay focused without distracting each other every few minutes, you’ll find that group study can sometimes lead to a false sense of security, as you work through tough practice questions together and nod along when one member of the group gets it. Always go back to these questions yourself and make sure you can understand a topic in its entirety on your own before you conclude that you ‘know’ it from one study session with other people.
10. Firing up the group chat before an exam
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who is in full Zen mode the day before or morning of an exam. It’s like everyone’s exam anxiety gets curled up into a great tantrum spiral; students resign themselves to failure or beg for attention by claiming that they still haven’t studied. If you want to be in the right mindset for exams, try limiting your activity on any study groups or chat groups you have on social media. Everyone else is probably feeling anxious just like you, but encouraging that anxiety is the worst thing you can possibly do for yourself – not to mention your peers.