Ιt’s that dreadful time of the year again; you can almost smell the anxiety and sweat of horrified herds of students in the air as we all come to the abrupt realization that this school year is finally coming to an end but only after, well, to put it charitably, the inevitable torture of exams. While few of us are a novice to the notion of exams that doesn’t lessen the dramatic effects that it has on our stress levels. But as I like to think, this too shall pass, and if you’re wise enough you can manage your time and efforts so that you get the best possible results with the minimum amount tear-soaked papers and sleepless nights illuminated only by your depressing screen light.
- I still maintain that studying is a very personal thing and that no matter how much your best friend swears by a particular studying method, if it doesn’t work for you, it probably never will. So think to yourself what makes you the most effective- be it reciting out loud the material you have to cover or copying it into your notebook. Everyone is different in terms of learning and that applies to you too.
- One thing that I’ve discovered to be a life savor within the past years is making a thorough studying plan. Depending on how close to each other your exam dates are and how much material you have to cover for each class lay out a detailed plan of what you want to have studied by the end of every day and try your best to stick to it. By doing that in advance, you’ll make much more prudent calculations and time management than you would when sucked into the chaos of exams. What I suggest that you do is make the plan and hang it somewhere visible (for example over your desk) so as you can always check your progress and stay focused.
- Highlighting and color coding is very helpful to the brain as it helps link two different stimuli and thus it makes memorizing easier. Same goes with pictures and graphs or anything visual really- so, whenever you can, make short diagrams of dates/numbers/notions simplify the process of learning by heart long pieces of information.
- You must know by now that half the part of succeeding is actually understanding and fully grasping what you’re studying. However, the other half is practice. That’s where the “practice makes perfect” logic applies to its fullest. The more exercises you do and the more equations you solve, the better prepared you’ll be and the more confident you’ll feel. From personal experience, it honestly doesn’t matter how much theoretical background you have until you come to put it in practice.
- Make sure you have adequate notes. A lot of the times teachers ask things that they have covered in class and that you can’t find as detailed, or at all often enough, in the textbook. So ask a trusted classmate to look at their notes and see what you’re missing or might have wrong. Also, you can ask the professor themselves if they can fill you in-they will probably appreciate the gesture and be glad to be of a help. Lastly, doing some background research on the library or online helps with courses especially with social studies.
- Make time for pleasant activities and have regular breaks. Again, because attention span is varying, you might need to take a break anything between every 30 minutes to an hour. If you feel like you’re getting distracted or are overcome by the urge to bail (well you most likely you’ll feel that 97% of the time but still) there’s no point in forcing yourself. Your studying is just ineffective if you aren’t completely devoted, so making time to relax is essential. Go out to get some coffee, go out for a short run, spoil yourself with a sitcom episode, so that you feel energized and happy and can deliver better afterward.
- I’m going to go typical mom about it (oh the horror!) but you have to take care of your body too, which translates into a balanced diet, lots of water and sleep. In a perfect world, we can all gracefully balance between these and school, but in reality it’s a lot more difficult than that. However you can at least try to stay well hydrated by caring a bottle of water with you at all times (including in the examination, if permitted) and eat as many fruits, vegetables, whole wheat cereal which keep your sugar levels steady-no mood swings!- and fill you up.
Remember when exams finish and summer starts, you’re one step closer to your goals. Brace yourself, try your best and you shall be rewarded. Good luck!
Words by Maria Stratoudaki // Photography by Rebecca Anne.