Don't leave it until the last minute. While some students do seem to thrive on last-minute 'cramming', it's widely accepted that for most of us, this is not the best way to approach an exam. Set out a timetable for your study. Write down how many exams you have and the days on which you have to sit them. Then organise your study accordingly. You may want to give some exams more study time than others, so find a balance that you feel comfortable with.
Don’t worry about learning the details until you have gotten the hang of the main ideas. If you don’t actually understand what you’re studying, it doesn’t stick.
Make sure you have enough space to spread your textbooks and notes out. Have you got enough light? Is your chair comfortable? Are your computer games/mobiles out of sight?
Try and get rid of all distractions, and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to focus as possible. For some people, this may mean almost complete silence; for others, background music helps. Some of us need everything completely tidy and organized in order to concentrate while others thrive in a more cluttered environment. Think about what works for you, and take the time to get it right.
A lot of time wasting occurs when you’re busy sourcing the material you need to study. Keep everything organised together in one space, so when you do quickly need to see that sheet from last term again, you don’t waste hours trying to find it.
Visual aids can be really helpful when revising. At the start of a topic, challenge yourself to write down everything you already know about a topic - and then highlight where the gaps lie. Closer to the exam, condense your revision notes into one-page diagrams. Getting your ideas down in this brief format can then help you to quickly recall everything you need to know during the exam.
It may sound a bit obvious but if you take down good notes it will save you a lot of time come revision time. Make sure you start a new page for every lecture, keep any hand-outs in a folder and don’t bother taking down entire sentences – key words and concepts are all you need. When you get home, expand on the notes you’ve taken, this way you’ll revisit the lecture for the second time.
Almost everyone feels pressure before exams because of what is at stake. Students may feel under pressure to succeed, or worried you're not good enough. It can be particularly worrying if something important to you depends on the results
One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice taking past versions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions, and - if you time yourself - can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.
Parents and little brothers and sisters don't have to be annoying around exam time! Use them to your advantage. Explain an answer to a question to them. That will help you to get it clear in your head, and also to highlight any areas where you need more work.
Asking someone to test you is a productive break from the dreary monotonous studying routine. This will also allow you to see where your strengths lie and what sections you need to re-visit. Also, knowing that in an hour your housemate is coming down to test you may spur you on when you’re studying.
Ask a friend to pretend they’re five years old and try to explain what you are studying to them. This means you are going to have to simplify what you are learning and break it down, which will ultimately help you out too.
Not everyone is a visual learner; there are plenty of other study methods out there that may be more suitable to you. You might be someone that learns by doing things; in that case, record yourself reading out your notes and listen to it over again. If you’re someone who remembers song lyrics easily, check to see if there are relevant podcasts available of your course.
Don’t stick to one topic; instead, study a bunch of different material in one sitting. This technique will make sure your brain doesn’t go into auto-pilot.
Get together with friends for a study session. You may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. As long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself.
Some people are ready to go from the movement they wake up, whilst others remember the most at around 3 am in a silent library. Experiment with different times so you can figure out what suits you.
Your bed is for sleeping and watching repeats of Come Dine With Me – your brain won’t be switched to knowledge intake gear if you study under your duvet.
While you may think it's best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn't try and run 24 hours a day! Likewise, studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks really helps.
Everyone's different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Or if you're more productive at night time, take a larger break earlier on so you're ready to settle down come evening.
Try not to feel guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of hunched over your textbooks. Remember Vitamin D is important for a healthy brain!
It can’t be all about study, study, study. If you have achieved a study goal or mastered a particularly tricky bit of material – do reward yourself with something you like doing. A quick game of FIFA, a new coat of nail polish or a chat with a mate.
Make sure you get everything ready well in advance of the exam - don't leave it to the day before to suddenly realize you don't know the way, or what you're supposed to bring. Check all the rules and requirements, and plan your route and journey time. If possible, do a test run of the trip; if not, write down clear directions.
Work out how long it will take to get there - then add on some extra time. You really don't want to arrive having had to run halfway or feeling frazzled from losing your way. You could also make plans to travel to the exam with friends or classmates, as long as you know they're likely to be punctual!
We all know cramming is a no-go. You stress yourself out and the material quickly exits your brain. However, calmly revisiting key notes and flash cards will allow you to feel prepared. Everything will be fresh in your mind when you take the exam.
As a final tip, remember that being well hydrated is essential for your brain to work at its best. Make sure you keep drinking plenty of water throughout your revision, and also on the exam day