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Study tips for exams...

Routine

Set a regular timeframe that you will study each night and stick to it. It’s important that your study time becomes a habit.

Study space

It’s really important that your study space is both comfortable and well lit. Don’t sit on the couch to study. Sit at a desk where your study time is purposeful.

Establish a timetable

When you are studying for a series of tests or exams, it’s helpful to draw up a study timetable to ensure that you dedicate specific time for each subject.

Look after your health

It’s difficult to study on an empty stomach or when you have no energy. Make sure you drink lots of water; try and avoid too many caffeine drinks, such as coffee and coke. Have lots of healthy snacks on hand (nuts are a great source of energy) and exercise regularly. Take short breaks at specific times during your study timetable. Go for a walk or do some other physical activity.

Sleep

You won’t retain any information if you are dog tired, so if it’s late or you are just plain exhausted, go to bed! You can always set your alarm and get up early in the morning to catch up.

Avoid interruptions

When you are in study mode, try and avoid things like having the computer and Internet on (social networking sites will be killer timewasters!). That’ll protect you from being distracted by messages constantly popping up. The same goes for your mobile phone — make sure it is switched off when you are studying or out of the room.

Let your family know what your study timetable is (post a copy on the fridge) and ask them not to disturb you during your study periods if possible.

Be calm!

There isn’t a great deal of purpose to be had for stressing yourself out! You can only do what you can do, so the best cure for stress is to do something about what’s stressing you. That just might be preparing for your exams. When you need to take a break, try lying down somewhere peaceful and listening to some calming music. Let the music take you away.

Set rewards

As with any goals, set yourself some mini rewards for when you take study breaks. For example, watch a TV show, catch up with friends, play or watch your favourite movie.

Ask for help

If you are unsure about any part of your subject matter, make sure you seek out your teacher and ask for clarification — that’s what your teachers are there for! Another great help can be from your peers. Ask a classmate for help if you’re struggling. You can always repay the favour by offering to help them in another subject.

Find a study partner

A study partner can be really helpful if you’re studying for a subject that you’re not too great at understanding. Two heads can often be better than one if you’re trying to understand a problem or concept. A word of warning here, though — you have to be really strict with yourself if you are going to be study partners. It can be easy to get distracted by chatting about other stuff when you’re together. A study partner might be best used for one or two subjects.

Trade study assistance

Peer tutoring can be one of the most beneficial ways to understand parts of a subject that you’re struggling with. Often, when a friend or classmate explains something in our own language, we can understand it better. Try finding a classmate, or perhaps an older student, who can offer you help in studying. If you are really great at English, for example, you could then offer to help someone else who struggles with this subject area.

The added bonus of peer tutoring is that, often, helping someone else helps cement your own knowledge and understanding because you are having to explain it to someone else.

Exam tips...

  • first things first… look after yourself
    You won’t be able to perform at your best if you haven’t fuelled your body properly. If your exam is in the morning, make sure you’ve had a good, healthy breakfast. Ensure you have had a good feed before your exam — fruit, for example, and have a bottle of water to hydrate from during your exam.
  • getting closer… get a good night’s sleep
    The night before your exams, make sure you get a good night’s sleep! You’ve studied all you can (hopefully). Even if you haven’t, the night before won’t make too much difference, so there’s nothing left to do but get a good, solid night’s rest. Your brain with thank you for it in the morning!

when you get to the exam…

  • read the entire exam paper first
    There was a funny joke played on students once (not during exams though!) in which the teacher instructed students to read the entire test paper first before beginning. Clearly, not all students did as asked, as many spent the entire hour of their test busily concentrating and writing. Those that did read the entire test first actually finished in about five minutes flat and sat there smiling, looking very satisfied with themselves. Why?? Because the very last question on the test paper said, ‘Ignore all other questions and complete only number one’!

Once you’ve read the entire exam questions, without delay, you can then plan how much time you should allocate to each question and section of the exam.

  • complete all questions
    This might sound obvious, but many students simply leave a question if they don’t know the answer. Even if you are unsure, you should at least give the question a go. One mark or even half a mark received can be the difference between a pass and a fail.

  • be prepared!
    Make sure you arrive at your exam with the appropriate equipment! You will need at least two pens — an extra one in case a pen runs out, pencil, calculator and eraser. You can’t ask someone for a pen midway through your exam!

  • plan your exam time
    As soon as you have read carefully through your exam, write a quick exam schedule on a piece of scrap paper so that you can allocate a set amount of time for each section. This will help ensure that you don’t leave yourself short on time for completing the final section.

  • why do I need to know all this stuff?
    This is a fairly common question among students. ‘Why do I need to know all this information and subject matter at school?’ I know when I was studying Year 11 Accounting — that’s precisely what I was thinking.

‘I’ll never even use this stuff anyway,’ I told my teacher. Well guess what!? Now, 20 years later, I’m now running my own publishing business and I am doing all my own accounts! So you just never know when or where you’ll draw on some of this knowledge.

True, you won’t remember a lot of what you’ll learn in high school, but remember, it’s not just what you learn; it’s the process of being a learner. Learning skills such as listening, comprehension, writing, discussing, study skills — they are all valuable skills that you’ll use once you’ve completed your high school education.


 

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