|Exam seasons are usually my favorite part of schooling. And that is a fact!|
I know what you are asking. No, I am not a nerd!
But I like knowing that school is coming to an end and I am moving nearer to my graduation as each school year closes in.
I like knowing I won’t have to wake up early for a class anymore.
I also like knowing that I beat the odds and I will soon get that diploma and never return.
There are many things to like about exam season except for the actual exam. Aren’t they?
Exams can be very frustrating and as a college expert, I have a few ways to ease your frustration. Okay, I am not a college expert but I did get some good grades and here’s how I did it.
How to effectively study for exams;
Train your mindset
It all starts with the mindset. Positive thinking and constant positive affirmation is key to getting what you. Simply because we attract what we think. If you want good grades then think it, believe it and act on it.
Read and write
A lot of people just read and I see it a lot. There is nothing wrong with doing that but jotting down the things you are reading can help you retain information. I find that I tend to remember things better when I write them down for two reasons. If I need to do a quick last minute revision I can make reference to my notes. Secondly, as I write what I read I also find myself doing a memory exercise where I re-explain what I just learned to myself. And that really helps with my retentions. If you don’t believe, there is plenty of research you can find online on it with a quick google search.
Take frequent breaks
Taking frequent breaks when studying is a great way to recharge for another study session and it makes studying less exhausting. I find that people use the Pomodoro technique to schedule breaks which is great. However, I like to schedule mine a little bit different. I don’t like to take a break when I’m in the flow but I still like to take breaks as often as I can. Find what works for you and stick to it.
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Find your spot
Someone whom I know but won’t mention thinks I am crazy for always wanting to stay in the same spot. But trust me, having a particular spot keeps the productive vibe going. Simply find a good spot that is convenient to study and work on your to-do list. The more consistent you are in doing that, you will find yourself going to work there because you have made it your productivity zone.
Get a study partner
Having a serious study partner is a great way to gather the momentum you need to start your work. Your study partner(s) will serve as an example and the motivation you need to do your work. For the most part, when I tried doing this in college, it didn’t always work out because we either end up distracting ourselves or I just didn’t get much don’t. So, I got an internet partner because I really needed that extra push. If you search on YouTube for study with me videos, you will find a lot. And that is not because you are crazy, but it works. There are actually people who engage in intense study sessions and record it to serve as motivation for people like us who need it.
Set priorities and Be Intentional about it
This is very important if you want to be productive. I learned this concept from listening to a podcast from Ezra Klein at Vox. The idea behind intentionality is that productivity isn’t about doing a lot but doing the right things with intention. A lot of times we spend time being busy instead of productive. If there’s no intention behind our work then there is no meaning to It because we are in autopilot mode just trying to get things done without actually properly getting things done. It’s okay if you need to space out some work for a few days. Let the few you do have meaning and be done properly.
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Nothing beats planning ahead. Knowing that you have an exam to write, it is better to start planning early. That way, you can properly and without pressure access what you have to cover and map out a plan to achieve it. If you need to write notes or borrow notes of photocopy someone’s text. By planning early, you will have time for it without having to go into panic mode when you don’t find someone because they are probably busy using their text to study for the exam. Last minute preparation can frustrate you and make you lose confidence in the exam you are about to write.
Kick out Distractions
Distractions play heavily into why we find ourselves procrastinating. We don’t get important work done and when we do, we are constantly finding time to do tasks that are not necessary.
And it really isn’t your fault,you’re just being human. Human beings wired to do things that are pleasurable. And reading for an exam is definitely not one of them. But, if don’t learn how to kick out the distraction then you won’t go as far. If you cannot do it on your own, there are great apps that can help with it.
They can get pretty hard-core. Once you set your goal on the app, you just may not be able to do anything else with your computer till you complete it.
1) Forest: I like this productivity app. It is kind of like a game as well. You set your timer to what you want and it starts watering virtual plants for you. The moment you pick your phone, the plants begin to die because you are getting distracted. I really hate to see my plants die so I try not to pick my phone for the set time. I believe for every plant that you let grow, you can choose if you want them to actually plant the tree in different countries. Don’t quote me on that, I really just use it for the timer and not the extras.
2) Freedom and cold turkey: These two apps block all your social media sites and search engines. I think cold turkey is an extreme version of it. Kinda just turns your computer into dummy mode. If you need that tough love and rude awakening then this is definitely for you.
Get a planner
A planner is a great tool for setting your to-do list straight. Prioritize what you need to do in your plan. Divide the tasks so it easy to follow through with them and set deadlines for completion. Working on deadlines is a great way to put yourself in check. That way you are not too relaxed thinking you have all the time in the world
Try finding, practicing and revising past questions because it really can make all the difference. Especially when you take a course with a professor that has been teaching that same course for years. There is only so much new contents and questions that they can come up with every semester. So they do tend to be repetitive. Familiarizing yourself with the kind of questions they set can be all you need to get that A+. Even if they do not set the exact same questions, trust me the style of questions and concepts they choose to ask will be similar. After all, they will only ask what they think is important for the students to learn and know right?
Decluttering is a great way to clear your headspace. A neat and tidy working environment makes working easier and more enjoyable. Take time out to properly clean your study or work station and watch the information flow with ease. Decluttering doesn’t just involve your work station, it could be as simple as arranging and putting your study notes in order. Finding time to arrange your work station or study materials and tools are also a good way to start.
If you feel like your attention is constantly being divided try fidgeting. You don’t need to have some kind of mental issue or inability to fidget. Fidgeting really helps to improve focus. I do not use fidget toys but I tend to bounce my knee a lot when I am working and it really helps to improve my concentration
Control your environment
This is very subjective but it works for me so you can try it and tell me if it does work for you. During the exam period, it’s best to control your environment so you are in continuously calm headspace.
Things that make you unnecessarily hyper or fuel some emotions in you just cut it out. You can start with the music you listen to. Some rap songs that make you want to be in constant rap battle mode try to trade them for some great podcasts till your exam is over.
Instead of listening to that song that makes you create a world of your own in your imagination, try listening to a podcast on productivity or a worship song or an audiobook on achieving success. Not only, will this help keep you sane but you just may hear that word that uplifts your spirit which is just what you need to ace that paper.
We cannot talk about productivity hacks for exams and leave out the legendary coffee. Caffeine is a great way to boost your energy and help you focus. If you don’t like the taste of coffee, tea is a great alternative. If you don’t like any of it, some good ole exercise, meditation and quality rest will definitely do you some good.
Take that first step! When you find yourself unmotivated to study just take the first step. It really could be as little as opening up your laptop or just typing that first word or reading that first line. Just do something. You will find that as you start slowly, you are creating the mood for work and you will eventually find yourself working hard at it
Sometimes you really want to study but you are moody and you cannot get past it. Try journaling. Journal those unsettled feelings you are having without sugar coating it. Pen down your emotions exactly how you are feeling it. Journaling is a way to pen down your frustration about a situation without having to worry about hurting someone else. You will find that venting helps to release that emotion and you can get your study on.
The days you feel like you did a badass job at tackling your to-do list, reward yourself. Reward yourself with a meal or treat yourself to something nice. Rewards are a great way to encourage action. Rewarded behaviors tend to be repeated over and over.
Related post: How to create a study schedule for your exams