Exam season is just around the corner with timetables starting to be released in the coming weeks. Exams are stressful for everyone whether you’re in first year or final year. Here are five tips for success in studying for exams.
Get them ZZZs
It is very easy to stay up studying well past time for bed, especially when you think you’re on a roll with a particular topic. However, this is counterproductive as fatigue affects your brain cells’ ability to properly communicate with each other leading to lapses in memory, according to Live Science. This makes you more likely to forget the paragraph or sentence that you just read.
Sleeping also helps to retain newly learned information. In the deepest stage of sleep, known as REM, the brain converts short term memory into long term memory, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Coffee in the morning, water at night
It’s not unusual to switch over to a diet that consists mainly of coffee during the exam period. Caffeine covers adenosine receptors in the brain which are one of the things that tell you when you are sleepy. This makes you stay more alert, according to Healthline.
However, coffee can interrupt sleeping patterns when it is consumed later in the day. In this case, water is your best option. Research has shown that when we are thirsty we begin to focus less on what we are doing and makes it hard to recall long term memories, according to Psychology Today.
Move your body
The brain may not be a muscle but it can still benefit from exercise just as the actual muscles in your body do. Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki recommended a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on three or four days a week during her TED Talk on ‘The brain-changing benefits of exercise’. The immediate effects increase your ability to shift and focus your attention for at least two hours, according to Suzuki.
Going for a walk with the dog or heading for a gym session will leave you better equipped to study when you come back as well as give you a well-deserved break from the books.
Taking a break
There is only so long you can sit at your desk before you find yourself reading the same sentence over and over again or you feel pins and needles forming in your legs. It’s at that point that you should get up and have a short break to get a snack or go to the toilet.
The typical recommendation for study breaks is five to ten minutes. This gives you long enough to let your brain relax a bit but not too long that you will lose the motivation to go back to studying. Obviously, you can take longer breaks when it comes to mealtimes.
Switch it up
It is important to rotate the subjects you study so that you don’t find yourself stuck in the exact same routine every day. That is a sure fire way to lose motivation.
By switching up the subjects you study and the order you study them in on a day to day basis, it keeps that fresh and new feel to each study session.
It may also be helpful to take a ‘kill two birds with one stone’ approach and mark off any topics that overlap across subjects. This way it keeps things simple and can cut down a lot of the workload.