A too often overlooked part of our exam preparation is proper sleep to allow your study to sink-in. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to retain information is not to pull an all-nighter of studying the night before an exam! The best thing for your memory is to have a good night’s sleep, (7-9 hours on average is optimal) and you will wake-up refreshed and ready for more study!
It’s important to have a clear study plan, whether it be through a diary, calendar or planner. With a plan, you can go about structuring your day to study different lectures and courses if you are University. Or, if you are at school and studying in NCEA, you can use past exams and online guides. You can plan the times you study, factor in breaks for healthy food or mood-boosting activities and ensure that you get to bed on time.
Fuelling yourself is important and the healthier your food intake is, the more your body will respond. We aren’t saying that a chocolate or two as a reward won’t go amiss, but the best fuel for your mind is fruit, veggies, omega-3, antioxidants, protein and lots of water! Junk food, while filling, isn’t the best to sustain a good study session and should come only as a reward once or twice a week. Some of the best foods to eat while studying include; blueberries, avocados, nuts and leafy greens.
Whether you work best in a quiet environment or a noisy one, set up your study area in a way that will be most helpful to you being productive. Clear away clutter on your desk, remove any unnecessary distractions (including your phone) and ensure that you have a playlist set-up if you are planning on listening to music. Open the window or turn up the heater and then settle into your chair, ensuring you are comfortable and that your posture is good.
Study Partners or Study Groups
Sometimes a great way to enhance your learning is by studying with a partner or a larger group. It can be a great way of sharing knowledge, covering more material and making learning more fun. Ensuring that you have shared goals and key focus points will keep your minds on the task and maximise the effectiveness of the session.
Study Breaks and Rewards
It’s worthwhile giving yourself some encouragement for sticking to your schedule. If you have done 30 minutes of study straight, give yourself a break for five minutes to allow the information to sink in and your brain to re-focus. You might even consider exercising in-between study sessions, as this is a great way to have a break and stay healthy and focused, ready for your next study session. Another way to keep going is to give yourself a reward at the end of the study day if you hit your target study times, it could be a food treat or maybe an hour of a video game you love. Create a reward for yourself so that you have something to work toward (along with your good grade!)
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