They’ve told you studying is all about memorising your notes, making sure you know every single bit of content. But is this really how you should go about learning?
Let’s be real, those repetitive methods get real bat shit boring real quick. I think the one mistake I made during my final year was only focusing on the actual content of the textbook and what I had written in class- making sure I was some robot who knew all of it off by heart, rather than checking out all of the different ways I could go about studying that have been proven by scientists.
Most of all I lacked the knowledge of the ways I could remain focused, determined, motivated and optimistic. A positive mind will always reap a positive outcome and better results.
1. Create a good environment
It’s important that you emulate the environment that you will be taking the actual test in. Make sure its somewhere relatively quiet, with a relaxed atmosphere.
Get some fresh new groovy stationary and make sure you have everything surrounding you that you need eg, pens,notepad, laptop, calculator or water so that you don’t have to move about every 10 minutes.
2. How about a quick meditation sesh?
I’m sitting my exams, not training to become a monk. Yeah yeah, I know.. but seriously. Meditation isn’t just for the spiritual. It has proven to have great cognitive effects. Researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois conducted a study on college students where half of a psychology class were told to meditate before a lecture. After the lecture the class took a quiz, where they found that those who meditated did significantly better on the quiz than those who didn’t.
Personally, meditation has been a great tool for creating mental clarity, releasing stress and anxiety, becoming more self-disciplined and most of all has helped me to focus on any task.
All you need to do is sit in a quiet spot, get comfortable, release the tension in your neck, back and shoulders, close your eyes and breath. Cast away all thoughts and just focus on your breathing and the relaxation of your body and mind. Check out The Guardian for an easy guide on how to meditate.
3. It’s a digital age–use the resources!
This is highly underrated. Especially for anyone cramming for their exams.
There are many sources of information you can access outside those that your teacher has given you. Everything you’ve learnt in class can be found online. Join your state-specific Facebook group and ask your peers if you can’t find anything on the net!
4. Stay motivated
It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how well prepared you are, if you start to feel a little bit hopeless and the stress starts to take over, your brain will probably turn to mush. That is where motivation comes in–when you just need some reassurance that its all worth it and to not give up.
YouTube is a great place to find this motivation, where there are a plethora of inspiring speeches (hello TED Talks) and video compilations that you can watch and listen to.
Also, click here to check out an inspiring article about why you should just stop worrying so much.
5. Make some flash cards
Making flash cards has proven to be an effective method of studying. You could write a question on the front of the card and the answer on the back. This way you can easily quiz yourself.
Another way you could do the cards is by writing a term on and the front and what the term means on the back. Test yourself before you wreck yourself.
6. Draw up or create a diagram
Creating a visual diagram can help to take a complex topic and make it concrete and tangible and give you a greater understanding of it. You can draw one up, or if you’re less artistically inclined and more tech-savvy, create one on Word.
This visual representation can help you to create a visual memory in your mind that can easily be recalled in an exam.
7. Become the teacher
Teach the subject as if you were standing in front of a group of people, or actually grab a friend or parent, and give them a lesson on it. It’s a great technique as it not only tests you to see if you’ve memorised the topic, but also helps you to understand concepts and theories and apply them to your knowledge.
If you’re lost for words after one minute of teaching or completely forget everything when you’re put on the spot, as you will be in the exam, then it is a great heads up to let you know if you haven’t studied the topic enough.
8. Say your affirmations
Remember ‘Bloody Mary’? You know that urban legend where if you said ‘Bloody Mary’ three times while staring into the mirror a dead woman would appear to kill you? Well affirmations are similar to this, but instead, a whole new perspective of confidence, creativity and knowledge will appear! You are in command of your brain and so the more you affirm to yourself a certain behaviour, the more you will begin to reflect that behaviour, just like being hypnotised.
Say to yourself every day “ I am focused. I am thinking clearly. I remember everything I need to know. I am prepared. I am a successful student. I have the power to get excellent results” and repeat these over a few times.
9. Record yourself and play it over
Instead of constantly reading over your notes, a great way to memorise the information is to record yourself reading over them, then popping in some headphones and listening to the recording while you sleep, go for a walk, exercise or even eat.
The information will be imbedded into your subconscious with little effort required.
10. Last but not least- go out and reward yourself
That doesn’t mean go out and get so blind drunk that you kill every brain cell that you probably just enhanced. You just gotta go out and grab lunch with a mate every once in a while.. Stop thinking one or two hours is going to have a massive effect on your marks.
Studies undertaken by Dr Higbee revealed that it was much more effective to study a maths chapter in three x hour-long sessions as opposed to one three hour-long session. That means don’t cram it all in at once. You need regular study breaks to help keep you motivated and focused while working, but also to give your brain some time to absorb the information a little better.
Study for a bit, then take a break and when your feeling reinvigorated, get straight back into it. Don’t overexert yourself!
Compiled by Lauren Sleiman