With the Prelim Exams coming up, we thought it would be valuable to be reminded of some study tips in preparation.
Know your learning style
The 3 learning styles are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Make sure that you know how you learn, absorb and retain information the best. Some students will need to read the information out loud and learn though hearing it. Some will need very colorful mind maps with graphics included, some will need to do more practical forms of study. Knowing your style will help to study more effectively.
Benjamin Franklin once said “Failure to plan is a plan to fail”; this rings so true. If you do not have a study plan it is easy to get distracted, procrastinate and do so many other things before you buckle down and start to study. Planning is crucial to your success, plan ahead exactly what time you want to study as well as what you plan on studying in each session. Study time is not a time to still be making notes – try as far as possible to make all your notes ahead of time. Study every day, gradually you will retain and gain all the required information, this will enable you to avoid cramming at the last minute and not retaining information.
Set reasonable times and study session lengths
The length of your study session is critical, a good length of a session is 1 hour at a time with a 10-minute break after. With another hour of studying after this. After 3 sessions a longer break of 30 – 45 minutes is good. It is important to also study at reasonable times – do not plan to study until the early hours of the morning, your brain needs sleep and will no longer be able to function optimally and absorb the information.
Go through past papers
Going through past papers is very helpful; it gives insight of what to expect, how questions are generally asked, how to answer particular questions and it gives a good guide on the length and depth of answers. But going through past papers is only beneficial if you attempt the paper on your own (Do it under test conditions and time yourself) and then mark your paper with the memo and see where you have gone wrong and can do better. It is pointless to read the question and answer off the memo – you will absorb a lot less information.
Lifestyle (Eating, sleeping and exercise)
Keep your lifestyle as normal as possible, don’t make huge, drastic changes to your lifestyle. Getting enough sleep is extremely important – your brain needs time to rest, and during rest information is retained and fully absorbed. 8 hours of sleep a night is important, where you need extra time to study you can reduce this to 6 hours but catch up the lost hours of sleep when there is a gap in your exam study schedule. Eat a healthy and balanced diet filled with many Vitamins and in particular Omega vitamins – these are rich in fatty acids and are good for your brain. Exercising during study times is critical, exercising releases endorphins which will help with your mood and will keep you positive; exercise has also been proven to improve your thinking and help with knowledge retention.
Lastly, stay motivated, when you are not in the mood to study or finding it difficult, remind yourself of the reason why you are working hard to achieve your goals, this may be to get into the desired course at University or a future career etc.