It’s that time of the year again (no, it’s still not Christmas, ha!).
I’m talking about exam season!
Whether you like it or not, exams are just around the corner.
In other words, your palms are perhaps getting sweaty and your heart is racing like crazy at the thought!
(If this sounds like you, keep reading because I've got your back!)/Hopefully, this will change after reading this article!)
Don’t worry though – I’m here to help you because I perfectly understand how you feel!
In this article, I will share my top 8 last-minute revision tips that will help you reduce stress and ace your exams.
Without further due, grab a coffee, take a study break and let’s dig in.
1) “Eat That Big Frog” – Focus on the most important thing first
First things first, you should “eat the big frog” (not literally, of course lol!)
“To eat the big frog” means to tackle your most important thing first. It’s an analogy from the book by Brian Tracy “Eat the frog”, which essentially means that we should pay attention to the most difficult task first.
In terms of exam prep, this could imply identifying which subject(s) in particular are your most difficult ones (I’m sure you know them deep down in yourself but you have been procrastinating for some reason!) and focusing on them first.
By doing this, you will feel a great sense of achievement and self-satisfaction because as you make progress and actually take action to learn the most difficult bits and pieces of a subject, you will feel much more prepared!
(This is much better than procrastinating until the very last night and pulling an all-nighter!)
Speaking of procrastination…
2) Stop Procrastinating and Start Focusing
Someone had to say it (finally!).
This may sound like common sense but trust me – it works!
Stop making excuses and diverting your focus. Be disciplined enough to refrain from checking Instagram 24/7 or having random trips to the kitchen without being hungry.
All that does is to prevent you from getting in a productive study flow.
So, when you start studying, do it efficiently! Make efforts to finish the study sessions (based on the time you’ve allocated for yourself) and then take your break.
But now you may ask,
“How to study efficiently?”
Look at next point – it’s a bit more lengthy, but jam-packed with value!
3) Use efficient study techniques
What if I told you the traditional methods of studying like re-reading, highlighting and making notes (without putting any cognitive efforts) are not that efficient?
It may come as a surprise, but these study techniques fall short in comparison to other not so-popular techniques (but much more effective ones!) like active recall and spaced repetition.
I’ve left a few resources after the article to let you do your own research and decide on your own what exam revision techniques you will personally use, but let me first mention a few important things about “active recall” and “spaced repetition”.
Active recall refers to the idea of trying to retrieve information from your brain through active practice. There are multiple studies that show the effectiveness of this study method.
I know, it sounds complicated but it’s ery simple in practice. The idea is to actively test yourself in some way, shape or form. Some effective examples include doing past papers, asking questions and answering them (with the textbook closed), answering essay questions, making spider diagrams and more.
Ultimately, it boils down to this – your ability to use brain power/cognitive effort to retrieve information.
So, instead of rereading a subject/chapter in a passive way (most of which you will have forgotten by the end of the day), try this technique out!
Spaced repetition is basically the idea of testing yourself (ideally, using active recall) over a period of time. It’s really that simple! (It’s the opposite of cramming!)
Spaced repetition works because it directly interrupts the forgetting curve repeatedly. You know when you cram something, memorize it for a few days only to completely forget it in 1 weeks’ time? Well, that’s the forgetting curve!
So, instead of cramming your revision over a single day or two, spread out your revision over the time left until your exams and review the necessary topics/chapter at regular intervals.
Finally, another popular study technique is the “Pomodoro method” where you basically study for, say, 25 minutes and rest for 5. This is then repeated as many times as you want. The point is to set a timer and stick to the schedule as required without letting the temptation to check Instagram creep in.
Try this out using the Toolkit video here.
4) Ask for support
Having some support could be of utmost importance to you during exam revision.
Don’t worry to ask for help from others - tutors, lecturers, study pals.
They are there for a reason and you can ask for feedback, bounce ideas off each other, study together in groups etc. Practice makes perfect and the more you actively practice (remember active recall?!) leading up to the exams, the more confident you will become.
In addition, seek support from friends, family and your significant one. They should understand what you go through and help you regardless of how irritable and grumpy you are right now, ha!
5) Don’t sacrifice your wellbeing
Just because it’s the exam season, it doesn’t mean we should turn into social outcasts who neglect their wellbeing.
What I mean by that is really simple.
Don’t give up exercising, fitness or playing sports. Granted, you may not dedicate as much time to your physical shape, but don’t neglect it either!
Working out is a force multiplier – being in shape carries over to all other areas of your life! One of the benefits of maintaining a regular training schedule is the fact it will improve you personally and professionally, not only physically.
Training is proven to increase mental performance, brain power, level of focus, clarity and daily energy!
With regards to nutrition, it goes without saying eating nutritious, quality foods on a daily basis is a must for wellbeing. If you want to feel better, have more energy and better focus, working out and eating healthy are no brainers!
6) Don’t neglect sleep
Although exams are commonly associated with pulling all-nighters and last-minute cramming, don’t sacrifice your sleep.
Sleeping is so overlooked, but arguably the biggest contributor to your overall wellbeing!
It plays a key role in just about everything – your energy levels, weight management, recovery abilities, and believe it or not – brain power, ability to focus and solve complex tasks.
Seriously, it’s a game changer!
If you want to ace your exams, don’t sacrifice it.
Here is what you can do:
- · Make sure to have a consistent sleeping schedule (wake up and go to bed at approximately the same time every day)
- · Have a quality night sleep (7-8 hours)
- · No electronics ~1 hour before bed
- · Be careful with caffeine and cut back on alcohol
I’ve provided a highly impactful book on the importance of sleep below.
7) Find out your stress-busting techniques
Student life is not all studying!
I believe it’s just as important to do other activities you enjoy, which help you relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
Apart from working out or playing sports to calm down, try doing yoga, walking the dog, watching a movie, meeting friends for a cup of coffee or just taking a leisurely walk in the nature (the weather is not the best, but still!).
The idea is to take your mind off studies at least for a short while and recharge your batteries.
Mental burnout is definitely a thing among many students and you don’t want that at all, especially now!
8) Don’t Panic (No matter what happens)
I absolutely feel you – exams can be stressful and frightening.
If all else fails, remember the words of Thomas Edison,
“A single sheet of paper can’t decide your future”.
At the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have straight A’s on all of your exams.
In my opinion, it’s important to actually LEARN something from the different subjects and then APPLY that knowledge in real life.
Anyway, these are my just two cents on how to effectively prepare for your exams if you feel stressed.
We all go through exam stress so realize you are not alone!
I wish you best of luck and know you will all make it.
I believe in you!
You got this! (I mean, WE got this as I need to revise for exams, too!)
Let me know your thoughts about the article below. It would seriously mean a lot to me if you leave your feedback.
https://thefitstudents.com/ - here is my own health & fitness blog. If you are interested in health and fitness, easy, yummy (and budget-friendly recipes) and everything fitness-related, you can check it out.
It’s specifically created for students and young people (just like you) and its main mission is to help you get fit (forever), while enjoying life. So, I’m sure you will learn a thing or two!
“Make it stick: The Science Of Successful Learning” by P. Brown, H. Roediger and M. Mcdaniel – the book covering the science behind the most efficient study techniques.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukLnPbIffxE – a YouTube video on the evidence-based revision techniques and their effective implementation.
“Eat that frog: Get More Of The Important Things Done Today” by Brian Tracy – a great book on productivity, time management and habits.