The Iglu Guide | Blog

7 ways to ace your exams

Love them or loathe them, exams aren’t going away anytime soon. And when you’re a uni student, the pressure is on you as an independent learner to rise to the challenge. The truth is, most students would rather avoid additional stress and extra study time when there’s a whole lot of fun to be had instead. But the more we do exams, the more normal the experience becomes and the less it will begin to bother you. Here’s how to ace the whole experience and come out the other side with a smile.

1. Create a study schedule

The best way you can help yourself during your exam period is to be organised and efficient when managing your study time. Start out by having a good look at your current time commitments and create a study schedule that works realistically within this timeframe. Check out some of the online resources to get you started, such as My Study Life or Classify. By keeping everything important in just one place, your academic life will be super organised – and you’ll notice immediate benefits. Use the templates provided to add in assignments and due dates and set up task priorities. Alternatively, keep it retro by simply writing yourself out an assessment calendar and pinning it up above your desk. Studying has also been proven to be more efficient if it’s distributed out over several sessions. Spread out your study sessions and try to avoid leaving it all to the last minute and cramming it in the night before.

2. Use online study aids

There are an amazing amount of online study resources available at your fingertips, especially for those students who struggle to find the right revision techniques. There are many ways that they can help in the run up to exams, from keeping all your study notes neatly in one place (Evernote) to generating flashcards and quizzes (Quizlet). Stay on top of your grammar habits with Grammarly and let Cite This For Me create you a bibliography in minutes. If you’re juggling several projects all at one time, Trello is your new best friend.

3. Create the right environment

When you sit down with your books for a study session, think about the environment you are in and how conducive that will be for studying. If you’re in shared student accommodation, find a quiet space either in your room or in a private study area where you can focus. Try to avoid any type of digital distraction. Turn off all your social media alerts and put the phone ringer onto silent. Commit yourself fully to that study session and be confident that you are giving yourself every opportunity to absorb the information. It’s easy to look for distractions when you have a stack of work to get through, and time has a nasty habit of mysteriously disappearing down that Insta feed. At the end of your study period, try testing yourself on what you have just learnt – it’s a great way to ensure you fully understand the topics. If you struggle to motivate yourself to get going, here’s a few tips to get started.

4. The power of sleep

It’s no secret that your brain works much better after a good night’s sleep, and the quality and quantity of sleep that you are getting can really impact your learning and memory. Your brain needs time to rest and consolidate all the information that has been taken in over the day – particularly if you have spent the evening studying. If you deprive yourself of a good night’s sleep, it becomes more challenging to receive and process information. Ideally you should be getting around 8 hours sleep each night – but at the very least it helps to have a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals towards bedtime and try and stay away from screens at least half an hour before lights out.

5. Look after your mental health

It’s even more important to prioritise your mental health during exam periods as it is traditionally a pressured and stressful period. High levels of anxiety can lead to a range of health issues, so it’s important to be in tune with how you are feeling and recognise the warning signs that can sneak up on you. Having some strategies on hand to manage any anxiety and stress will help enhance your productivity and concentration, and make it easier for you to focus on the exams at hand. Make sure you eat a balanced diet and avoid reaching for sugary snacks as these can really crash your mood. Choose concentration-boosting foods that will sustain you through your revision periods and you’ll notice the benefits. If you find you are struggling, talk to your university councillor or student accommodation representative who are all on hand to help when needed.

6. Stay active

Regular exercise is genuinely food for the brain. Taking time out to exercise and getting away from your studies will actually help you achieve more when you return to them. Firstly, there will be a rush of endorphins cascading through your body that will lift your mood and boost your energy levels. Secondly, exercise is known to kick-start your brain activity and will improve your cognitive output when you get back to the books. Set the energy drinks and protein bars aside, and hit the great outdoors. It might only be a ten-minute stroll around the park, but it’s the ideal way to break the routine with a positive activity.

7. Reward yourself

Be sure to treat yourself with regular rewards during an exam period. That might be a bit of time back on screen, an outing with friends or a late-night movie. Schedule in some motivation, whatever that looks like for you, and you’re one step nearer to finishing.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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