Study doesn’t need to be hard work — make study work for you!
by Carol Brown
I often see almost an epidemic of stress among people getting ready to sit exams around this time of year but, let’s face it, high level stress only makes the situation worse. Thankfully, we can take some simple steps to reduce stress levels and make your study and revision work better for you.
- Take a more creative approach to your study. Stick pieces of information around the house; inside cupboard doors, in drawers, on random items around the house, etc. When it comes to the exam you can visualise reading the information on the back of the bathroom door!
- Prepare ‘flash cards’. Write a few sentences of the information you want to remember on each piece of paper or card. Where possible, use graphs, tables and diagrams. If you can, use different colours of ink or card and colour code subjects, groups of info, etc. Take them wherever you go and when you have a few minutes read through them. Gradually reduce the amount of info on the card as you become more familiar with it. Your brain retains the first and last pieces of information best, so remember to shuffle the order of the cards!
- Voice record relevant facts and information, save on your phone or to your playlist and play these in-between songs. This way you can be learning and memorising even when on the move and active.
- Your brain can only absorb and retain so much information in one go. No-one likes the prospect of pouring over books for hours on end. Instead, break your study time up into 30 minute slots. Have a little break, get up and move around, stand tall and take a few deep breaths and then get back to it.
- Think about what you need to know and achieve by each exam date and create your own personal study timetable, then stick to it. Check that you are on schedule and make changes if necessary.
- Stress and feeling anxious interfere with effective learning, so taking time to relax is an important part of study and revision. Think of where and when you feel at your most relaxed and build this into your study timetable.
- Exercise is a fantastic way of reducing stress. It doesn’t have to be drastic, even going for a walk or dancing around your room will help. Taking part in a fun activity lifts your mood and creates a better mind state for your studying.
- Sleep is also very important to re-energise. Begin with a regular time to go to bed at night and get up in the morning. Everyone is different but, in general, people need between 6-8 hours of sleep. Staying up all night to study can be counter-productive.
- Use past papers or questions to help you practice your timing and create a formula for answers. You’re much less likely to feel time pressured or run out of time at the exam.
- Make sure that you are drinking enough water and fuelling your body with brain building foods. Lean meat, lots of vegetables and fruit will increase your energy levels and powers of concentration. It’s like a car, if you don’t put the correct fuel in, it splutters and comes to a halt.
When you put these techniques into action you’ll feel much better prepared, be more relaxed, focused and able to take your opportunity to shine!