The exam period is coming soon and for some students it has even started. This is the most dreaded and stressful time of the year because we all ask ourselves: how to study effectively for exams? Because there is always a bunch of things to learn and never enough time to review all the lessons… In short, studying for exams is a race against time and it’s not easy to know where to start and how to revise!
To help you with your revisions, we’re happy to have Mélina, a Bachelor students, who is also the brain behind the studygram @studeemly. We hope you’re ready, Mélina has a lot to share on how to study effectively for your finals!
Even thought it doesn’t show on my Instagram account, I am a champion when it comes to last-minute revisions… because I procrastinate a lot.
But don’t worry, I’ve passed all my exams!
Actually, that’s how I’ve started to create a study routine that is finally working! So in this post, I’d like to give you my tips and tricks to help you to study effectively for your exams. Even if you only have one day left and you still haven’t opened a single book yet.
No need to panic!
You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come in such a limited time! But you still need to know how to get organized for your exams.
So here are 7 easy tips to study effectively for final exams even at the last minute!
Tip n°1: Choose your workspace to study
An effective study session is first and foremost a question of work environment!
Find your own study space for the days or weeks ahead. It will save you a lot a time because you don’t have to move all your stuff every time you want to study for your exams.
Set up a quiet place where you’re sure you won’t be distracted by a background noise, the television, your family, your pet and especially your smartphone.
Notifications are the worst enemies of studying!
So put your smartphone in a room where you won’t go so you won’t be tempted to use it. If you’re like me and you live in an apartment with your parents, you know how complicated it is to have absolute peace. Then, put on some instrumental music, OST (like this or this) or whatever type of music you like that motivates you to study. The goal here is to relieve stress and cut yourself off from the rest of the world so that you can focus on your exams.
Decide on one spot you’ll use as a workspace to study for your exams.
Tip n°2: Tidy up your workspace for better productivity
After choosing your workspace to study effectively, tidy up your desk, kitchen table, garden table or whatever else serves as a desk.
Only keep the lessons you will be revising during the day, your study plan, writing materials (pen and paper or just your laptop) and a bottle of water.
Put everything else out of your sight, it’s an unnecessary distraction and it will slow you down in your study sessions.
Tip n°3: Make a study plan
This is certainly the tip you should not miss! Making a study plan is essential if you want to study effectively for your exams.
First of all, it forces you to peer into your notes and make a plan of everything you need to study. By making a study plan you’re already learning your lessons without knowing it. Because a structured plan helps you to better understand your lessons and visualize how each notion fits into the others. That’s how our brain remember things.
Secondly, your study plan will serve as a checklist to assess your progress, if you are running late or if you are ahead of your schedule (but let’s be honest it never happens).
Making a study plan using the PROJO planner weekly spread…
And keeping track of upcoming exams with the monthly layout
If I have time to study and by some miracle I don’t do it the night before, I set myself no more than 3 subjects to study each day.
Don’t forget to be reasonable even if time is short. There is no point in setting an overly ambitious study schedule: it will make you procrastinate even more. Set yourself a limited number of subjects to study during the day, you will find that you will be much more efficient and productive.
Tip n°4: Time your study sessions
Remember to put a watch on your desk to keep track of the time you spend on each subject.
If you find that you’re stuck on a subject for too long or that you’re reaching the end of your rope, try to study a new subject. There’s no point in forcing yourself, you’re just wasting your time and you won’t be able to study effectively.
And you know how precious time is during exam period.
Instead, focus your energy on a new subject : study a lesson that you like. It will give you a boost of energy because you have confidence in yourself, you know that this subject is your strong point.
As for me, I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Languages and I love studying economics, it’s my favourite subject. So, I often have a 30-minute study session where I study economics because this course unit makes me feel confident. And when I’m highly charged, I tackle subjects that annoy me. Sometimes, all you have to do is to convince yourself that you can do it, you can pass your exams and the machine naturally starts up again.
Tip n°5: Synthesize your lessons in storytelling form
When I say synthesize I don’t mean summarize. The difference between the two is that a synthesis is complete, exhaustive while a summary is not.
And in order to study efficiently and pass your final exams, you can’t learn the bare minimum!
You’re probably gonna to tell me that you do not have unlimited time to learn everything. I agree. BUT I didn’t say you have to learn everything in every detail. What you can do instead is to synthesize your classes.
How can you do that?
Well, to make it simple, read quickly your lesson in question and try to retain as many elements as possible. Remember that time is precious and that doing an all-nighter doesn’t tempt you at all, so perform at your best!
Take a piece of paper and as you have assimilated the notions of the lesson as you read, write them down on your paper. Imagine that you are doing some storytelling or writing a little tutorial, a little recipe for yourself.
It should be clear, effective and logical. Don’t make sentences, just write down the keywords, use arrows to link them if necessary or use the symbols of your choice. Get to grips with this “draft”.
The goal is to extract everything that is important in your lesson by writing it down. In the end, you have learned nothing by heart. You have retained your lesson because you have turned your tedious study session into a fun one by using your visual memory through this exercise.
Personally, I swear only by this method of storytelling. Reading me you’d think I love to study for exams when actually I don’t. I hate studying!
I simply find a way to make studying more bearable and pleasant with this storytelling technique.
Since the begining of my studies, I’ve only been practicing this study strategy and it works great for last-minute revisions!
Tip n°6: Make flash cards of your mistakes
Sometimes we don’t remember every story we’re told. The storytelling method has its flaws because the human brain cannot retain everything permanently. That’s why I advise you to take a small sheet of paper to write down all the things you keep forgetting. Read your notes every time you can’t remember something. You’ll notice that you will never ever make the same mistakes again.
For instance, I always get the spelling of “Brazil” in English and Spanish mixed up. So one day, I took a little post-it note and wrote: Brésil (fr) – Brasil (esp) – Brazil (eng). And every time I had a memory lapse I would take a look at my post-it note… I did it so many times that I never forget the spelling of this country again.
Tip n°7: Recite your lessons to someone
Recite your lesson to a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or parents to make sure you have understood it. If the person understands your explanation, you’ve got it!
Albert Einstein said that “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. In high school, I even stuck this quote above my desk to check whether I understood my lessons well enough and if I was able to explain them clearly to myself or to someone.
I hope these 7 tips will help you study effectively for your final exams and to better cope with this stressful period!
But the main thing to keep in mind is that no matter what grades you get, you’ve learned something in any case.
Everyone has to study for exams sooner or later. So remember why you’re studying and what you want to achieve in the end.
Revise, study and work for yourself! Motivate yourself by scheduling study sessions with your friends for example: it’s a great way to make something annoying more pleasant! Keep going and believe in yourself!
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