Preparing for an examination does not necessarily need to be a period of stress. It is not possible for students to escape the hurdle of examinations, no matter how much ever they might wish to do so. However, a lot depends upon their perception and attitude towards these exams, and the studying skills and strategies employed by them for the same. The following are some of the tips and tricks which could be kept in mind by students while preparing for their examinations:
1. Build on your productivity. It is most common for students to be supposedly studying for hours at a stretch, especially when the parents are heard exclaiming that their child could not perform in proportion to the number of hours spent in studying. However, a huge chunk of these so-called study hours is likely to be a waste, with the child simply staring at the books, without registering much. Instead of sitting at your books for longer periods of time without much success, it is advisable to study for around 40-45 minutes at a time, ensuring that you utilize each of those minutes fruitfully.
2. Avoid multitasking. It is important to remember that multitasking does not actually save time and energy, but instead makes it more difficult to retain the information, as the human ability to process information simultaneously reduces the efficiency, while at the same time gives us less opportunity to rehearse the information.
3. Take regular (and planned) breaks. You should take regular breaks between your studying hours, for around 5-10 minutes each. Remember, these breaks are not inflexibly stretchable! Further, while breaks are supposed to be times for you to recuperate and do whatever you want, it is also important to keep in mind what you should and should not do in your break times! Avoid reading, TV or computers, as they involve the same part of the brain involved in studying, and hence would not be very refreshing. Instead, prefer to listen to some music, have some light snacks, or go for a short walk.
4. Use time-saving tactics. As most of the times the same topic needs to be read and revised more than once, it would be very beneficial if you would highlight specific words or phrases, that would help you save time when you reread or revise the same topic again. Moreover, highlighting has been found to be more effective than underlining as it helps you form visual memories of the highlighted words standing out.
5. Prepare your study environment. Besides the study material, it is also important not to neglect the place where you study. No matter how comforting the bed might seem, studying in bed should be avoided, as our brain recognizes the bed as a place to sleep. The study table should be reserved for studying, and should be kept de-cluttered at all times.
6. Self-tests. At the end of the day, you need to be responsible for your studies. These tests need not be prepared by your teachers or parents. Instead, you should be honest to yourself, and prepare timed self-tests on a weekly basis. This would help give you a reality check to be able to evaluate your own progress as well.
7. Adopt healthy lifestyle choices. It is a myth that caffeine, nicotine, or any other substance, can help improve your concentration during exams. On the contrary, they are likely to increase your anxiety levels, thereby making you feel more stressed! Therefore pay attention to your health, and focus on maintaining a regular and healthy lifestyle.
8. Peer pressure. Competing with your peers might help motivate you at times. However, it is important to avoid making comparisons between your work and anyone else’s. Instead, you should work towards fulfilling your own expectations from yourself.
9. Before and after an exam. The morning of an exam is not the time to have frantic last minute revisions, which would only lead to confusion and stress. You should talk to your friends about everything but studies! Even after the exam, avoid discussing the question paper. Worrying about the previous paper will not help you prepare for the next one. Instead give yourself a break before you start focusing on the next exam.