How To: Prepare for Exams?!

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With exams around the corner, i dedicate this post to those currently under stress (like myself) struggling on preparation techniques. So we can all just go through this impossibly tough time together, Who’s with me? No one? Ok.

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The most important thing that people seem to neglect before appearing for an exam is mental strength. Believe me, when i say the fear is all “In your Head”. Once you appear for it, when the exam paper is right in front of you all that fear and nervousness evaporates, because your mind builds self confidence slowly till the moment when you finally submit the paper. You need to make sure you relax so your mind is actively calm and can function at an optimum level. If you’re too worried or stressed before you take an exam, chances of recalling previous knowledge are slim to none. At the same time, overconfidence is probably not the best mode since you’ll probably “blank out”. Have you ever been in an exam and literally have no clue what its all about? Well, these reasons are probably why. So, here are a few suggestions to consider before you appear for an exam.

  • Make Sure You Have The Complete Syllabus

Nothing is worst then having incomplete notes before appearing for an exam. So, be sure to know the subjects and topics you are required to learn. Make sure you have all your notes completed and if it is incomplete, its time hit google. Once you have everything organised and ready, you will have to make sure they’re arranged in an order that makes sense to you. Learn one subject at a time; draw correlations within topics of that subject. This way, you will be able to remember alternatives, even if you don’t recall the original. For e.g. In Physics, The formula for Gravitational field strength is similar to Electric Field Strength. That way, if i don’t recall the other, it won’t result in a disaster.

  • Learn to Love the Subject

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Try to study the subjects you dislike or are unable to do most of the time. Try doodling with hard topics with the help of; mind maps, collages, scribbles or pictures if it helps you comprehend better. If its boring, make it look artistic for it to capture your attention. Add fun colours and read it a million times and you’ll be able to remember it in even in your sleep. If it takes time to memorise it, put it on a mirror or a wall you look at everyday. I promise you, It works!

  • Say NO to long hours

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Cramming everything at a time will make you lose interest. Organise your study schedule and make sure you don’t sit and study for too long! Take at least 20 minutes but not more than an hour at once. Take 5-10 minute breaks in between. Don’t forget to test your knowledge to determine your level of understanding.

  • Say YES to exercise

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Many people seem to avoid exercising during preparations to conserve energy. However recent research shows that, doing light exercise such as a 20-minute jog can improve your memory. Meditational exercises such as; Yoga increases energy level,  and reduces the effects of stress. This is preferably done in the outdoors, to get some fresh air for mental relaxation.

  • Healthy Eating Habits

It is recommended to students to consume a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber and slow digesting foods such as; oatmeal before appearing for an exam. What you consume a week before, plays a huge role. Avoid foods that contain high-fat, low carbohydrate heavy cheese, eggs and cream. Instead, go for a balanced diet including fruits and vegetables. When studying, your brain takes up a lot of glucose. In between breaks, opt for healthy snacking ideas like the ones below.

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Apple slice sandwiches with granola and peanut butter filling. #yummers

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Fresh strawberries topped off with cool plain yogurt.

  • Alter Study Spots

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Don’t just stay at home depressed and alone.  According to the New York Times, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. In an experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Why? Supposedly, the brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time. Try alternating your study spots between the library, a study room, and a quiet coffee house.

  • Manage Your Time

“Time is what we want most but what we use worst” – William Penn

Always make a point to use your time wisely. Never put off anything till the last minute, that retains your ability to process information. Think of it as eating a bagful of marshmallows- there will be a point where you will not be able to swallow any more. In the same way, the brain finds it hard to process so much information at once. Make a balanced study plan.

  • Avoid Pulling an All-Nighter

Compared to all students, All-Nighters impair reasoning and memory for four days. As a result of that, your grades will be affected. That’s not all, you would then be forced to wake up earlier then expected, which compromises sleep (check out my previous post for more details!). Sleeping late the night before an exam interferes with rapid eye movement which affects memory.

  • Minimise Distractions 

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Stay focused! Even if you’re tempted to check your social media, text or tweet a friend. This will help you understand things quicker and uninhibited. You’re more likely to retain more information without gadgets distracting your concentration.

  • Reflect, Refresh and Review

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If you’re still finding some things hard to learn, write them down on flash cards or coloured cards and review it continuously before appearing for the exam.

I hope these suggestions were helpful to those needing motivation and assurance on preparing for exams. At the end, its knowing that you tried your best despite the results. “Its all about the journey as much as the outcome” Enjoy learning new things as the famous Mark Twain said:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

PS: Thank you for taking the time to read this post! Please do not hesitate to leave more of those suggestions (negative/positive) to improve this blog. Future blog post requests are always appreciated. Have an enjoyable day! x

-S

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