How to plan your preparation for exams

How to plan your preparation for exams

Most people don’t know how to handle the pressure that comes with preparing for a test, let alone the exam itself. But don’t worry! There are proven and reliable ways to make sure you have more than enough time to prepare. Pay attention to this short guide and never feel anxious about an exam again!

How to prepare for your exams and avoid trouble with them:

Make sure you get an early start

Everyone knows they have to start as early as possible, but not everyone follows this rule. Set a starting date and get to work as soon as that day comes. The sooner you start studying, the better it will be for you to master everything in a smooth, relaxed environment.

Know yourself to know the material

There are countless methods to study found online, so you should try a couple of them to find the one that suits you best. Whether it’s reading and taking notes, recording and listening to your classes, using different highlighter colors or taking short breaks in between each study season. If it works, it works! If it doesn’t, move on.

Try to get on the same page as your professor

A lot of people fear their professors, but it's best to understand they’re regular people like you and me. They want their students to pass exams and not the other way around. Most professors are more than happy to provide guidance as long as you show you are working hard in their class.

Where you are studying is just as important as how much you’re studying

Do you need to stay away from distractions? Perhaps, you find you are more relaxed when you are studying at home? If you need to be comfortable to study, maybe you prefer doing it on the couch? As long as you are getting the work done, make sure you are wherever you find it best. Preferably, it’ll be a calm, laid-back environment.

Be disciplined enough to follow a strict routine

Even though it may seem like too much, it’s a small price to pay. Get rid of any distractions: TV, phones, video games, and the internet. Have everything ready before you start. Think of all distractions as a prize you’ll get once your work is done. These things are not going to motivate you to study, they only kill productivity.

Arrange study groups with the right people

Two heads are better than one! And four can do even more work in less time! But remember, you should get together with people who seriously want to study — not with your friends who only want to have fun.

Discuss the material as much as you read it

Ancient Greeks deemed it more necessary to discuss philosophy rather than write it down. There’s a reason for that: you can learn a lot from talking about something. Plus, it’ll stay on your mind for longer than if you read it mindlessly. Besides, talking to your study group would be a more entertaining, relaxed way to study.

Avoid multitasking when you are studying

Make sure you have finished everything else before studying. Any house chores or other activities should be finished and over with before you sit down to study. Otherwise, you’ll distract yourself thinking about what you have to do or how you are going to do it instead of focusing on your books.

Practice over, and over, and over again

The more work you do, the easier it’ll be for you to remember the material — the better prepared you'll be for your exam. It can look like a lot of work. But once you get used to it, you won’t suffer through it. On the plus side, the more work you do, the faster you’ll pick up on your mistakes. Hard work pays off.

Do plenty of mock tests

You probably have plenty of them in your textbooks. If you don’t, you can look them up online. Either way, you should make sure you complete practice tests on what you know. Complete them as if they were the real thing.

Taking a break is as important as working

Scientific evidence shows you stop retaining as much information after 40 minutes of studying. Make sure you take a break around the 40- or 50-minute mark to prevent any issues. A good 10-minute break can make your next 40 minutes worth of studying more productive. Past a certain point with no breaks, you’ll be mindlessly reading and unable to learn anything.

Drink right to study right

Students love energy drinks to stay awake long enough to finish studying. But before you run to the store to get your favorite energy drinks, you should listen to science. Studies report the best beverage for studying is chocolate mixed with coffee. Cocoa and caffeine improve cognitive performance and increase attention levels. It also tastes incredible!

Eat right to test right

What you eat is incredibly important for your performance, no matter if it’s a sports match or a college exam. Start your day right with a big breakfast when you are going to take a test. You should try to eat high carb, high fiber foods like oatmeal and avoid anything high in sugars like a commercial brand of cereal.

During the days before the test, eat plenty of protein, fat and the right amount of carbs to maintain concentration and keep up your energy levels.

When you are studying, remember to carb up! Several scientific reports suggest that studying makes your brain consume glucose. Try to have a snack while taking a five-minute break in between study sessions to boost energy levels for the rest of the session! You'll also avoid a sugar crash with healthy food like fruit. Leave the comfort foods for the celebration.

Get the logistics right before test day

Make sure you know: • Where the exam will be held • When will the exam start • How long it takes you to get there • If you need to take anything with you

You should also know how to deal with any possible setback. For example, what do you need to do if you are sick on the day of the exam? Make sure you get this information before you need it, as most professors will think it’s suspicious if you ask for it after the exam.

Get plenty of rest the night before

Even though it may be hard to sleep the night before the big day, make sure to try to get as much sleep as possible. Staying up late to study will do more harm than good — without a good night's sleep, your brain won’t function at its best.

Get ready before you need to be ready

You should get everything ready the day before: keys, wallet, backpack, water bottle and whatever else you may need. Keep them together and ready to go. Plan your route ahead of time and leave earlier than necessary to avoid any possible setbacks.

Drink plenty of water and go to the bathroom before you step into the class

You’ll need plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you sweat due to nervousness. Make sure to bring a water bottle with you to the exam to avoid any thirst issues. You should also go to the bathroom before you start even if you don’t feel like going. Most professors won't let you leave until you are done with your test.

The aftermath: What to expect and how to behave

  1. If you struggled with anything on the exam, try to review it with your professor. In college, most lessons are interconnected, so you should avoid having a poor foundation just because you want to rush through the exam.
  2. Make sure you store your notebooks — don’t throw them away! They could come in handy in the near future. Try to do the same with most of your books, even if they occupy a lot of space. Put them in boxes if you can.
  3. Take a hard, honest look at your preparation process. Did it work out as you wanted? Did anything go wrong? What changes should you make for your future exams? Take notes and learn from the process. You should also ask your professors to help you with any problem you may find during this stage.
  4. Time to grab your reward!

Relax for a little bit. Go to movies, play video games, treat yourself and go out with friends, you have earned it! If you have other exams soon, take a day or so to refresh, recharge your batteries and get ready to pass more exams.

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