5 Simple Tips in Preparation for your Exams
Oh yes, they are here again, the exams are looming over you. You just don’t know where to begin and what to start with. So here are 5 simple tips to follow to ensure that you have a good preparation for your exams.
1. Decide What Type of Planning You Would Like to Follow
To do this, it is important to first decide what kind of a planner you are. Do you plan day by day, meaning that beforehand you make a rough draft of what you want to accomplice each day, and then on the day itself or the evening beforehand, you actually decide your hour schedule. Or do you want to plan out every hour of each day up front. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the second method, because this means that if something shifts in your planning, you have to change every little detail. And yes something will shift in your planning.
On top of this, it is important that you are realistic with how many hours a day you can study. For example, some might start at 11 am in the morning, but work until 2 am at night. But other might start early and also end early. And don’t forget to take in the times that you need a break, or need to have lunch. My personal day schedule is pretty limited, because I don’t have the strongest attention span and need a lot of sleep. Most of the time you will know what your day schedule is, so write it down, but be reallistic, it is often better to write down too few hours a day than too many. Because finding out that you have an extra hour each day, can only come in handy.
1.1. Types of Schedules
I suggest you take a piece of paper and draw out a month to make your general schedule, and then you can fill in each day which subject or subjects you want to tackle. This method gives you a clear overview of what’s to come, and of what is already behind you. On top of that, at the end of the day, you can cross out the past day and what you have done, which is very satisfying.
To make your hour planning, I would suggest a simple Post-It, on which you first write out all the available hours, and then fill them in with what you want to do (or need to do). And at the end of the day, throw the Post-It away.
So once you’ve decided what kind of a planning to make, you can move on to the next step.
2. Plan Your Workload Correctly
One of the most difficult tasks when it comes to making a studying schedule is to estimate how long each course will take to study. Because sometimes it will take you an hour to get through 5 or 10 pages, while sometimes you might even get 50 pages done in an hour. Now, this is where you have to remember that you professor also planned to teach you everything in their classes during the semester. So keep that in mind.
2.1. Make a Rough Draft
My personal trick is to make a first rough draft by calculating how many hours of class you’ve had for that particular course, and count that amount as the amount of hours you need to go over it for a first time. So if you’ve had 2 hours of class a week for a certain subject, and you had 12 weeks of class, then you can count on 24 hours to go through it for the first time (which in my personal experience will be around three days). But, if you had to do a lot of preparatory reading throughout the semester and you haven’t done that yet, do remember to calculate in an extra 2 hours for each week. Because that type of reading goes slow and is extremely tedious to do during your exam period. So write these amount of hours down for each course, to get a general idea of you entire workload.
2.2. Narrow It Down and Get More Precise
After you’ve made this rough draft, you can try to get a more precise idea of how long it will take by paging through your courses, and more specifically by looking at the table of contents of your coursematerial. Often it will help to see it a bit more clearly, and it might remind you of that one subject that needs extra attention. This is also a great help to make you day planning. For example put in sticky notes for each block of pages you think you can do in one hour. And write those pages down on you sticky note. Now I always plan for what I can do in 45 minutes, so that I can take a short break in between, or if it takes more than that, it won’t be a problem. And definitely take your breaks when you’re supposed to, because otherwise you’ll just become a bundle of overstressed muscle.
3. Take a Break
Yes, I said it, take a break. Not only during the day, but also in your entire week.
3.1. Breaks During the Day
So to take enough breaks during the day, I would advise to work each hour for 45 to 50 minutes and then have a break for the rest of that hour. During those minutes, go tot the toilet, or go get a snack, but be careful not to stay at your computer, because then a short break tends to be way too long. On top of that be sure to take your time to eat. take out 30 minutes to an hour for it. And really see is as relaxation, watch some netflix, or take nap. But definitely don’t eat bend over you books. Another way to ensure that you takes those breaks is to eat at the same time each day, or perhaps meet up with friends who are also studying and eat together.
3.2. Buffer Days
Besides these breaks during the day, it is also important to take breaks during the week. A name that we commonly use for these kind of breaks are “Buffer Days“. They are days that you put in your planning up front, for example every one tot two weeks you put in a Buffer Day, on this day you don’t plan anything. And by the time that day rolls around you have two options: either you are running behind schedule and you can use that day to get back on track, or you get a well deserved day off. I am often able to use it as a day of, but most of the time I use it to regroup and revise my schedule for the upcoming day. It always makes me want to start again the next day, with a fresh dosis of motivation. I would almost call it my recharging days.
By making sure that you get these types of breaks, both the daily and the weekly breaks, you can also be pretty certain that you don’t get so easily distracted, because you’re basicly planning in your distractions.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Body
When you’re studying it’s very easy to forget to take care of yourself, but that is actually one of the most important things. Because when you feel tired and hungry, you won’t get a lot of work done. So make sure you think about what you’re going to eat before the study period begins. And make sure to get you fruit and vegetables, becaus now is the time you’re going to need them the most. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy nice snacks and unhealthy food, because you definitely should, now is the time you have a good excuse for it. But try to make sure that you get a healthy meal once every two days, or even every day. Also don’t drink too much coffee or energy drinks, drinking water works just as well. It really does, and it makes sure that you get a good night of sleep.
Getting a good night of sleep is so important, because it is actually when you sleep that your brain memorises what you’ve studied during the day. So don’t ever skip sleeping. You are planing to keep doing this for a few years, so don’t teach yourself bad habbits. On top of that, sleeping well works better than a Redbull at midnight.
During the exams when I don’t feel well, I often think: “What would my mom say?“. The answer often gives you the most sound advice, and sometimes I even call her to make sure she says how I should eat better and shouldn’t overload myself. Just hearing it from someone else works much better than when you try to listen to youself.
5. Don’t Stress at the End
There’s no point to stressing the day before the exam. I admit it, I still do it, but I know I shouldn’t. Stressing during those last few days before a test doesn’t amount to anything, it just distracts you from what you could get done those days. And if you followed you schedule, you should be fine. Also it’s most of the time to late to do anyting about it. Be confident in you own abilities and trust that you have done you best. You can’t do more than you best.
If you have any tips or experiences to share, please let us know in the comments.
Hopefully these tips are going to help you during the exams. Good luck and enjoy! (And yes I know that that’s not possible)