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Top tips for great study habits

Can you believe the Uni year is almost half-way done? Time really does fly when you’re having fun. But don’t go sneaking out for winter break just yet… First, you have to get past those pesky exams. Feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared? Have a read of these top study tips and cast your worries aside. With a little bit of planning and consideration you are well on your way to some of your best marks ever!

Find your own groove

Everybody studies differently and what may work well for some students may not work so well for you. Are you an early bird? Does your brain function best the minute you spring out of bed – or does it take the best part of the daylight hours to warm up? Timetabling your study periods around your own personal circadian rhythms will maximise your output. Try to organise your revision timetable with a realistic outcome of what you can expect to achieve across that period – this will avoid unnecessary last-minute cramming and stress, and give you the best opportunity to identify any gaps in your learning. Remember, there is no right or wrong here – and nothing to conform to – so make the most of this flexible study opportunity by organising your groove well in advance.

Set yourself a routine

Where do you find it easier to work? Maybe it’s in your room, or at the library – or even in the open air. As long as you have everything you need around you, the rest is completely up to you.  Plan out a timetable in advance and try to stick to the routine so that it becomes ingrained in your daily habits. This way you are better prepared mentally and emotionally and each study session will be more productive. Prepare your defences against distractions upfront: switch off the mobile, shut down social media – and know it will all still be there as soon as your pen rests on the table. Of course, there will be times and occasions where the routine gets broken – and that’s OK. Don’t stress when this happens, adjust your schedule accordingly and then resume as soon as it is realistically possible.

Plan your study

There’s nothing worse than sitting at a computer for hours on end, and feeling like you have not achieved a great deal by the time you leave. The smart way around this is to take a bit of time upfront to set yourself some realistic goals, and plan out each study period accordingly. Review your work regularly, condense your revision notes into one-pagers, and use diagrams and flow-charts for quick visual cues you can commit to memory. You’ve taken the trouble to ring-fence the study time, now you can make sure every hour counts by planning it effectively.

Take a break!

OK, this might seem like one of the less useful tips – but actually, breaking up your workload is incredibly important. Think about it: your body works hard all day long and uses the night time hours to sleep and recover. If you’re sitting at a desk concentrating for long periods of time, you will tire – and ultimately work less productively. Take regular short breaks: move around, go for a walk, phone a friend – anything that breaks it all up and allows your body to regroup and re-focus.

Practise makes perfect

Sounds a bit obvious, right? But reality bites – the more you practise, the better you will become. Try getting hold of some past papers or exam questions and giving them a go in a mock-exam situation. Often we find it easier to recall information with home comforts around us – but would that feel so slick with the clock ticking? Creating a real-life situation will familiarise you with any associated feelings that may arise, so that when your exams do come around it won’t be a total shock to the system. Using family and friends to explain your work to can also help. It forces us to think clearly about what we have learnt in order for others to understand. Use a study-buddy to reinforce your learning – even if you are from different disciplines. Again, it is a personal choice and you will discover as you go along what works best for you.

Feed your brain

We all know the value of a nutritional diet on a normal day, but in exam periods time is running short and it is easy to slip into those bad dietary habits. Quick meals can often mean unhealthy choices, and a small pep-me-up can easily translate into a naughty sugary treat to give you that quick burst of energy and an emotional lift. None of this will kill you, but bear in mind your body will operate much more effectively if you give it the right tools to work with. Try and plan in some fresh healthy meals, stay away from the sugar and make sure you have plenty of fresh fruit and snacks to hand. Your brain will appreciate it for sure, and your study time will be far more effective without the highs and lows that follow those sneaky snacks.

And…. Relax

One of the best things you can practise around exam time is the art of relaxation. Student life may be heaps of fun, but it can also be an incredibly pressured world. Managing this balance is much more difficult if you don’t take time out to re-centre yourself – whether this means a stroll in the park, listening to music, or some yoga and meditation. Again, it’s your personal choice, but be sure to factor something in to counteract any anxiety or tension you may be feeling around exams.

Don’t let stress affect your results this exam period. Use these tips for effective study planning – and when it’s all safely behind you be sure to have plenty of fun lined up at the finish line!

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