Studying for final exams can be a stressful time, especially if you can't find the time or the inclination to do so. However, managing stress while trying to get the best grades is very possible if you find a way of studying that works for you.
Part 1 of 4: Organize your work
Step 1. Identify your goals
Before you start studying, you must first identify what your goals are. Aim for the mark you want to achieve for each exam and think about what you need to do to get it.
- Be realistic. Think about how you fared over the year, what you understood from the course, and how much time you will need to spend reviewing the material.
- Don't set goals too low, either. Try to push yourself and achieve the best that you can give.
Step 2. Make a study program
Making an effective and realistic schedule of work to be done is a vital component of your exam success. Setting up a study program will allow you to revise all the courses needed for the exams in the allotted time and thus minimize stress while maximizing productivity. This is what you have to take into account to get there.
- Make a schedule of all your activities. Write down your classes, your job, the time you spend with family and friends, etc. This will allow you to see how much free time you have left to study.
- Set aside hours for studying that match your schedule. Use hours between classes, time during commutes, and any other free time you can study. Keep in mind that one hour of study each day will be more productive than 5 hours in a row a week.
- Determine the goals for your revisions. Don't label vague things like “study biology,” your curriculum should be specific. List everything you need to study in specific topics and tasks that you will write down in your study program. Take 20 minutes to study subjects of a reasonable size, knowing that after these 20 minutes you will know that subject by heart.
- Stick to your schedule. A study program will do you no good if you don't stick to it. That is why he must be realistic. Take into account possible breaks and distractions when you prepare it so that you will have no excuse when the time is right. If that helps, think of your study program as if it were a job. You are obligated to do so.
Step 3. Start studying well in advance
It might seem obvious, but the sooner you start, the better prepared you will be on exam day. Starting early will allow you to cover all the subjects, give you time to practice taking mock exams and maybe even reading to supplement your lessons which will give you an advantage on D-Day. in advance, you will feel less stressed and anxious and you will have more confidence in yourself.
- Ideally, you should study weekly throughout the year and not just right before exams. You should prepare for each lesson by reading what your teacher has recommended as well as other additional reading related to the subject. Ask your teacher questions, ask if you have misunderstood, and take detailed notes that will be a great tool for revising later. At the end of the course, reread your course and clean up your notes by copying them by hand or on the computer. This will help you learn your course and be ready when it comes time for exams.
- Don't put it off until the next day. Everyone does it at some point, but before the exams you really have to avoid doing it. Your program is set in stone. By revising when you have scheduled to do it, you will avoid the risk of dropping out the week or the night just before the exam. Although it is tempting to put off studying until the last minute, drinking a drink right before the exam is not a very effective method. You may not remember much and especially increase your stress level. So don't put it off until tomorrow!
Step 4. Gather your courses
Gather and organize all the courses and resources you need to pass your exams. Gather your notes, exams already taken, homework, documents given in class and books covering the subject.
- Use pockets, highlighters, post-it notes to organize your lessons and go straight to essential information.
- Review your notes and underline key words, formulas, themes and concepts. Your grades are a valuable study resource because they summarize what is in the books and will give you clues as to what the teacher is likely to give on the exam.
- Ask another student for their grades to compare with yours if you think you are missing anything in the lesson.
- Find other books on the subject of the course. Another book will give you additional information and set you apart from other students or it will allow you to better understand a definition that is phrased differently.
Step 5. Choose a place to study
Choosing the perfect location will allow you to study more effectively. The perfect place differs from person to person. Some people prefer to work from home where they can make a cup of coffee or have a quick snack whenever they feel like it. Others prefer to work in the library where they will be surrounded by other people focused on their work and where they will not have distractions. You have to find what works for you. It may take you a little while to try to find the place that works best for you, or you may prefer to change places so that it is less monotonous and the schedule is easier to stick to.
Step 6. Make an appointment with your teacher in their office
Most students are either too lazy or too scared to go talk to their teacher. But most professors and tutorials are very happy when they see their students taking an interest in their course and will be happy to answer your questions or concerns.
- By making the effort to reach out to your teacher, he or she will have a good opinion of you, which can influence the way they grade your paper.
- Discussing the subjects covered in class with your teacher can also give you clues as to what he considers to be the key subjects of the course and therefore those likely to fall on the exam. He or she can also put you on the right track looking at the writing techniques and presentation of your review copy and what he or she expects from you.
Step 7. Set up a study group
A study group is particularly suitable for people who find it difficult to motivate themselves to study. Pick people you like and work well with, and organize 2-3 hour study sessions once a week. In a group, you can discuss topics, solve problems together, and ask questions that you dare not ask the teacher. You can also share the work.
- For example, if you are studying using a book that has long, tedious chapters that you only need a few key pieces of information for, you can each take one chapter and summarize it for everyone else in the group. So you can get a lot of work done in a very short period of time.
- When you study in a group, it is important that all members of the group are of equal level and have the same work ethic. Otherwise it won't work, one person may end up doing all the work or another may not be able to keep up. Don't be afraid to leave a study group that doesn't bring you anything. To be successful is what is most important.
Part 2 of 4: Study Effectively
Step 1. Study in 20 to 50 minute increments
If you try to work for long periods of time, you will quickly get tired and you will not study very effectively. It is best to study for short periods of time of 20 to 50 minutes, as this will make it easier for you to concentrate and therefore retain more information.
- After studying a specific topic for 20 to 50 minutes, take a short break of 5 to 10 minutes and then move on to another topic. This way you will stay focused and the subject will not end up boring you.
- To use this review technique, you will need to divide the amount of information to be assimilated into small parts. If you revise too many pages in a minimum of time you will not remember the information well.
Step 2. Take frequent breaks
The importance of taking frequent short breaks should not be underestimated. By taking a break, you allow your brain to assimilate all the information gathered and to rest before setting out refreshed to study again. You should take a 5-10 minute break between each 20-50 minute review period and a 30 minute break approximately every 4 hours.
- Surfing social media or watching TV is not the best way to use your break. It is better to use this time to eat a healthy snack to energize the brain, as it uses up glucose while you study. Almonds, fruit, and yogurt are all good options.
- Take a few steps outside to get some fresh air. Oxygen stimulates blood circulation which helps the brain to be in peak condition. If you can't go outside, do some stretches to stretch your limbs.
Step 3. Divide long chapters into smaller, more manageable paragraphs
Studying can quickly seem overwhelming when you set out to study an entire subject during a long review session. However, the task will seem more affordable to you if you break the topic into smaller sections that can be studied in short, but intense study sessions.
- For example, if you are studying a Shakespeare play and have set yourself a goal of knowing "The Storm" by heart at the end of the day, it may seem like an overwhelming task. But if you break this job down into smaller tasks, it will be more manageable. Take 40 minutes to study the character of Caliban, another 40 minutes to study the major themes of the play, and another 40 minutes to learn the most important quotes.
- Likewise if you are studying a science subject such as biology, don't try to learn an entire chapter at one time. Divide it into smaller, more manageable sections. Take 20 minutes to learn key definitions or to memorize an important diagram or experience.
Step 4. Take Effective Notes
Having your own notes is essential for studying more effectively. Well-structured and organized notes will help you study efficiently, as it is much faster to consult your own notes than a book for information. By writing your own notes, you can highlight essential information while eliminating superfluous information from books.
- In your notes, remember to add a compilation of the most important information that helps you the most from the various books and documents given in class in addition to your course notes. By varying your sources, you will have notes with the most complete content possible. This will help you stand out from other students during the exam and thus get a better grade.
- Try to find a method that works for you for writing your notes. Some will make index cards, others will use different colored pens to write, others will use abbreviations. Do what works best for you as long as your notes are legible and well organized.
Step 5. Use books strategically
Most students are bombarded with lists of books and reading becomes a dreadful chore. However, reading a book is not that difficult or time consuming. You just have to learn how to read effectively.
- Before you dive into it, take a minute to skim through the chapters to read. Read the chapter title and see if it has an introduction that summarizes its content. Read all section titles noted in bold. Get an idea of its contents before reading further.
- Ask yourself what are the most important topics or themes in the chapter. Turning each section heading into question can help. Ask yourself questions like: who, what, when, where, why and how. And answer it by reading the section.
- Once you have familiarized yourself with the content of the chapter, start reading it. Try to bring out any important terms or concepts. You can also underline or highlight any information that is important to you and that you want to review later.
- After you have finished reading, you should recite the information you have learned. Try to answer the questions you were asking yourself before without looking at the book to see if you have remembered the text. Once you feel you have a good handle on the text, repeat all the important themes and terms to yourself. Talking about concepts in your own words will help you memorize them.
- Take notes on what you have just read including titles, definitions, keywords, or whatever is important to you. Even if your notes should be short, they should still be detailed enough so that they allow you to refresh your memory on the most important concepts when you use them for revising later.
- After you finish the chapter and take notes, review everything you have learned. Roll over your notes to remember important topics covered in the chapter. Think about what questions your teacher might ask you on the exam and practice answering them. Make sure you understand everything you just read. If a concept seems fuzzy or you don't understand it well, read the chapter again.
Step 6. Explain what you have learned to someone else
Once you think you have mastered all of the concepts, ask a friend or family if you can explain them to them. If you can explain in such a way that the other person understands (although they have not studied the subject in question) without getting lost, then you have a good grasp of your subject.
- By talking about the topic in your own words without using your notes, you are recording this information in your memory.
- Being able to explain the topic to someone also shows that you have a good understanding of the information you have learned and that you have not just learned it foolishly by rote.
Step 7. Practice
After you have learned the subject that will fall on the final exam, take mock exams to practice. Taking practice exams is a great way to test your knowledge and understanding of the subject.
- Use quizzes, annals if available, and assignments and exams completed throughout the year. You can even ask your teacher for a mock exam. The homework and exams already done will also allow you to familiarize yourself with the form and structure of the exam and how to present your paper, which will be a major asset on the day of the final exam.
- Don't worry if you don't pass the practice exams as well as expected. The goal of practicing mock exams is to identify your weaknesses so that you can remedy them by spending more time studying the topics that you lack.
Part 3 of 4: use the right techniques
Step 1. Use the combination of pictures and words
Pairing pictures and words is the process of associating an unfamiliar term or concept with a picture that is familiar to you. By associating something unfamiliar with something you already know, it can help you remember that thing much easier especially if you are a visual person.
Step 2. Use acronyms
An acronym is a word where all the letters each mean a different word, making it easier for you to remember a list of words.You can make your own acronyms by taking the first letter of each word in a list and rearranging them so that they form a word that is easy to remember. An example of a very often used acronym is "SVP" which means "please".
Step 3. Use mnemonics
A mnemonic works the same as an acronym except that it is used to remember a list of words in a particular order and is usually in the form of a sentence rather than a single word.. The sentence can be anything, as long as the first letter of each word in the sentence matches the first letter of each word or term you are trying to remember and in the order of the list.
For example, we can use “We Were Without Orders” to remember the order in which directions appear on a compass. In this case, North = We, East = Were, South = Without, West = Orders
Step 4. You can try the hide, write and compare technique
This method works the same as explaining the topic to someone except you are doing it on your own. After you've finished learning a specific topic and written down all of the related terms and definitions, try hiding your notes and rewriting everything by rote. When you are finished, look at your notes and compare them with what you have just written. If it matches then you have a good understanding of the subject.
You probably used this method to learn how to write your first words, reading them, hiding them and trying to write them on your own. Although it sounds simple, it is a very effective method of learning, even at the university level
Step 5. Try to make a story incorporating the information learned
Instead of learning monotonous and boring lists and facts, try to take what you have learned and make up an interesting and exciting story that you will easily remember. Include descriptions, dates, locations and some keywords. Write the story down and recite it to yourself or others so that you can learn it well and remember it.
Step 6. Use analogies
Analogies work by comparing and contrasting terms and ideas in such ways that they are easy to remember. To use analogies you have to see the patterns that emerge and how they can be applied to a whole lot of things. There are different types of analogies, for example those which connect a part to its whole. For example, a battery is to a flashlight what an engine is to a car. You can also have analogies that speak of cause and effect. For example, to itch is to scratch what smoking is to cancer.
Step 7. Use repetition
Repetition is one of the most popular study techniques. It involves reviewing the material studied over and over again, either by reading, writing or reciting it aloud, until the information is completely absorbed. Repetition is an effective method of studying, but you need to test yourself to see if you have learned the lesson well. You can read something a hundred times, but still be unable to bring out anything on the exam.
Step 8. Decide which method to use
While all of these methods have their merits, you will need to try them out in turn to see which one works best for you. Keep in mind that some methods work better for some topics than others. The way you study math formulas and problems will be different from how you study a play.
- For example, repetition, acronyms and mnemonics will be more suitable for science subjects like biology where you have to learn a lot of unfamiliar and unusual terms, while making up a story will be more useful in preparing for a history exam where you can easily put the facts and events into a compelling story.
- Try to choose a method of studying that will appeal to your strengths. If you are a fast learner, reciting the course and learning lists will be easy for you, while if you are more of a visual person, associating your written notes with diagrams or pictures can help you memorize all of this information more easily.
- Remember that there is not just one way to study, so do what is best for you.
Part 4 of 4: Manage stress
Step 1. Eat healthy and exercise
It is very important to eat a healthy diet and exercise during intense periods of revision. Eating well will give you more energy and help you stay more alert during your study sessions, while exercise will clear your head and reduce stress.
- Try to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates that will keep you full with meals. And for a snack or a snack, eat cereal bars, granola bars or a handful of nuts or raisins. Avoid too sweet snacks, as their energy supply is only temporary.
- When it comes to sports, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day whether it's something fun like a dance class or a game of soccer, or something simple like going for a walk.
Step 2. Get enough sleep
Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night during this intense period of study. You may be tempted to study late, but remember that you need energy and focus to study effectively, which you won't get if you go to bed late. Also remember to get a good night's sleep the day before the exam. All of your preparation can be ruined if you don't get enough sleep.
Step 3. Avoid stressed people
Stress can be very contagious, so avoid other students who are tearing their hair out near exams or stressed people in general. A calm and methodical approach to your revisions will save you from stress.
Step 4. Say no to distractions
It's easy to get distracted while studying, but try to remember the long-term goal and be serious. If you allow yourself some distractions now, you will end up having a drink the last week before the exam and be extremely stressed. Study in a disciplined and consistent manner and you will be more prepared and calm on exam day.
While you are studying, turn off your phone and download a program that blocks access to social networks. If your friends ask you to go out for coffee when you're in the middle of a productive study session, don't feel guilty for saying no
Step 5. Have fun
Set a rigorous schedule for working during the week and stick to it as much as possible. However, give yourself some free time on weekends to relax a bit and release the pressure. Go out with your friends, go to a movie or enjoy your family. If you've been working consistently all week, don't feel guilty about having a little fun on the weekends… you will need it!
Step 6. Realize that you are going to be successful
Imagine yourself relaxed and confident on exam day. Think about how it will feel if you get the grade you're trying to achieve. Imagining all of this will motivate you to take all the steps necessary to reach your goal. Remember, if you believe you can do it then you can do it!