It's exam season which means it's time to knuckle down and get studying. But be sure to keep these tips in mind when you do!Finding the most productive ways to study can be hard at the best of times. There are so many options and everyone has their own way of doing things - so what might work for your friend may be useless for you - and vice versa. You also need to consider what type of studying you’re doing - what works a day to day basis may not be quite so effective when you’re studying for exams.
While we can’t do the work for you, we can help by supplying you with a range of helpful hints and tips on how best to study and make it work for you.
1. Pick a place and time
Everyone has their own idea about the best place and time to study. Whether it's in your bedroom at night or the library after lectures, find a study space and a regular time that works for you and stick with it. Make it quiet, comfortable and free from distractions. You need to feel happy and inspired, rather than stressed and nervous. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, find out what suits you - but make sure you get enough rest. Pushing yourself late at night can make you too tired to study properly.
2. Study a little every day
If you get into the habit of studying a little bit every day you'll be continually reviewing things in your mind. This helps you understand things but crucially avoids the stress of last minute cramming - my worst nightmare! If its hard to find the time to study, cut back on some (but not all!) of your other activities. Prioritising study might mean spending less time online, playing video games or cutting back on going out with friends - but it’ll all be worth it we promise!
3. Plan your time
Create a plan to make the most of your study time. Set alarms as a regular reminder to keep your plans on track. Or stick a wall planner up so you can see it whenever you're studying. Mark it up with important dates like exams and assignment due dates and use it to block out your regular study timetable. It’ll get you into good habits from the outset. Finally, set yourself time limits - before you start your work, create a to do list and give yourself a set time to spend on each task. If you don't get something done in the set time, consider whether it's the best use of your time to keep going with it, or to start working on something else. And when you’re heading for exam season, a good App to help you plan is Exam Countdown (iOS), which keeps track of the days until your exams.
4. Find your own style
No, this isn’t our top study fashion tips! Most of us simply have a preferred style of learning. Whether its by listening, using visual cues or using tactile learning including role playing, get to know the learning style you're most comfortable with and study in the way you learn best. It’s worth trying a few methods to see which one works for you.
5. Review, revise, repeat!
At least once a week you should go back over the things you've studied in lectures. Thinking things over can help you understand the concepts and help you remember when you need them the most.
Get one of your flatmates to test you on key concepts - and offer your help to them too. It’s a great way of getting confident about what you know and find out what you still need to learn.
If you’re a flash card fanatic you might consider using StudyBlue, a student app which uses your course information to create a selection of card sets for related revision. You can also make your own flashcards - try it out!
6. Take a break
It's important to take breaks while you're studying, especially if you're feeling tired or frustrated. Working too long on a task can actually lower your performance. Make sure you get away from your desk or study space - go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea or take a quick walk around the block to free your mind. It can sometimes help you look at a problem in a different way.
7. App it up
There are tonnes of apps out there for helping students with all aspects of study. Its worth chatting with friends and lecturers to see which apps they recommend. We have already mentioned a few but another great revision app is Go Conqr, which offers resources to create revision charts, mind maps, flash cards, notes and quizzes, as well as connecting with friends, classmates or even students from around the world.
8. Group gains
Why not get a group of friends together and study in one of our communal areas - the study room or common room in your building perhaps? Getting out of your flat might provide that change of scenery you need to get the creative juices flowing! Plus you can always bring a few snacks to share while you have your heads down in the books!
9. Look after yourself
You’ll study better if you take care of yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep and try to exercise. Don't reward yourself with too many naughty snacks or study late into the night. We’ve even written a blog about top health tips to boost studying so why not have a read:
10. If in doubt, sniﬀ lemons!
Have you heard about the latest research about the benefits of sniffing lemons and pinching ears? It’s not some kind of ancient torture ritual we promise! A recent study has suggested that "positive triggers" like smelling lemons and squeezing your ears could actually help revision. Neuroscientists looked at how young adults’ brains work to help optimise learning. And the association of the smell of the lemon or the trigger of squeezing your ear can work better than all the highlighting and underlining in the world.
These are just a selection of the things you can do to get the most out of your studying. You might already have other things that work for you. Find out what your friends do when they're studying.
Maybe your lecturers have some good recommendations too. Whatever strategy you come up with, when you find something that works for you, put it into practice and go for it!