It is perfectly normal to get stressed out at the thought of an exam, whether it is your finals or a competitive one or a technical one you are writing for your promotion. The pressure builds, to-do lists keep getting longer and for some, panic sets in. How can we avoid that and prepare ourselves in a systematic manner? Here are a few tips that can help.
- 1. Set realistic timelines. You know how much you have to learn and how long it will *actually* take. Start preparing for your exams well ahead of time. Last-minute cramming is not going to help anyone. If you are studying multiple subjects, give yourself enough time for all of them with reasonable breaks in between. Scheduling 10-hour study time a week before the exam is not realistic.
- 2. Create a study plan. Break down your portions into bite-sized pieces. With enough time before your exam, make a plan that balances all the subjects to be tested. This would be your everyday plan. Keep it very very real. You know how much you can actually learn in a day. Plan the number of days accordingly.
- 3. Have a study space. Try out a few places and pick one that is the most productive. For some, the complete quiet of the library works. Some prefer the bustle of a cafe. For a few others, their homes can be very distracting. So, try out a few spots and choose one that works the best for you. Stick to the same spot for all your study sessions. It will help you remember better and trigger a memory.
- 4. Experiment with different modes of study. Do this much before the exam, whether it is in study groups, tutorial sessions, or presentation modes. Groups help better when you are learning. However, keep some time for yourself to revise. Similarly, depending on the nature of the test, focus on definitions and details (for an MCQ) or conceptual/ analytical points for a descriptive test.
- 5. Seek Help. Again, you will get a sense of this only if you plan ahead. For topics, you find particularly difficult, reach out to your teacher or tutor for additional help. You can’t do this a day or a week before the exam.
- 6. Use flowcharts and flashcards. Anything to help you remember better. You have tons of options when it comes to digital mind maps and flashcards that will help you quiz yourself and revise the syllabus.
- 7. Practise writing. If you are writing a subjective test that involves descriptions, essays, and arguments, it is good to practice them with a timer. It will give you a better sense of time management during the exam.
- 8. Practice specimen/ old papers, so you know how much time you can allocate per section. You will also get a sense of the kinds of questions that you will be tested upon.
- 9. Eat healthy. Junk food might appear time-saving but it does take a toll on your brain. Make time to eat healthy foods: fruits rich in anti-oxidants, vegetables, and proteins. It will keep your mind and body active during the study and the exam.
- 10. Keep yourself hydrated. There is a direct connection between a hydrated body and an active brain. Moreover, getting a glass of water can also work as a mini-break in your study routine.
- 11. Exercise is important. While you might be spending hours in front of your books or your computer, take some time to move your body. Exercise releases endorphins, which help you feel better, and hence, study better. It will also avoid learning fatigue. But, do it in moderation, so you don’t tire yourself out completely.
- 12. Take breaks wisely. Breaks are important, just so you don’t get tired of the study process. But they also have a habit of going out of hand. So set timers for breaks. Preferably, avoid screen times for your breaks. Go for a walk, take a nap, play with your pet and get back to business when the timer rings.
- 13. Remember to review. Learn conceptually and revise before you go for the exam.
- 14. Test and reward. Test yourself, or get the help of someone to test you to see where you stand. Prepare yourself for these tests and rewards if you complete them well. You can take an extra break or get some ice cream or watch that one episode you have been putting away.
- 15. Get enough sleep. Can’t overstate this. Sleep is key. Do not pull an all-nighter just before your exam. Be well-rested. Will all the preparation, you will do well.
Hope this helps. Wish you the very best for your exams!