Study tips for the exam period

1. Take the time to plan

Prepare a study plan and goals for each day / week. Try to get a good balance with other important things in your life (like the fun stuff) – that way it will be easier to stick to.

Once you have created your own personal study timetable – use it as a daily planner, noting all of your upcoming assessments and exams, and allocate the time realistically required to prepare for these tasks. With this guide like a road map, you’ll know exactly what to do each day, and how much time you’ll need – leaving you organised and relaxed.

  • Create a study space that is comfortable, quiet, well lit, organised, and has no distractions nearby, such as a TV, phone, people talking, etc.
  • Keep up with new material at school and avoid missing days of school (unless of course you are unwell) – This will ensure you don’t get so overwhelmed closer to your final exams. Thinking you will ‘catch up’ on the content when you are on study break is not a great idea and does not work.
  • Create a list of things you either don’t understand or need clarification and then seek the help. Like a shopping list we right down the things we need and go to the appropriate shop.

2. Look after yourself

Self care is especially important there are big demands in your life – including activities you enjoy into your study plan, such as sport, spending time with friends and supportive people in your life is important.

Don’t get hungry before or while studying. Grab nutritional snacks that keep you going, such as fruit/nuts/dairy (and your favourite chocolate!!).

  • Remember to get some exercise every day as this helps you to keep focused and energetic.
  • Work out what times of day you have the most energy and plan to study then.
  • Try not to study more than 40-60 mins without a short break. Even a 5 minute break will help. A glass of water helps too!

When you have a break do something physical or fun, such as go for a short run or play with a pet.

Try to keep your focus on school and exams rather than other stuff happening in your life; you don’t need this extra worry around relationships, friendships etc. right now. This ‘drama’ will still probably be there when you have finished your exams.

Relaxation is important, especially before bed, to slow the brain activity down. Try some slow, deep breathing, a shower or a bath, herbal tea etc.

3. Think of your goals

Set yourself clear and defined goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your current situation, but also provides you with a benchmark for determining your own success.

Find that spark of motivation to keep you working throughout your high school journey. It’s really important you appreciate the reason WHY you are studying.

What do you hope to do when you’ve finished school?

Understanding why YOU want to achieve good marks.This helps you stay more focused on accomplishing your future goals, and keeps you motivated.

4. Use your teachers

Teachers are there to enable you are able to reach the goals you set for yourself. Ensure that you draw on their knowledge and abilities to improve your own! Don’t be scared to ask for help. Remember, your teachers are there to see you succeed, and are there every step of the way!

Think of your teachers like they are the ‘lead rider’ of a pack of cyclists. It is their job to ‘set the pace’ and ‘protect you from the headwind’. They have done this many times before and are ‘seasoned riders’ of this long distance journey of academic success. Your job is to ‘keep your head down – and follow their guidance’.

5. Stay focused

Say “no” to parties during the weeks close to the exams. This will help to keep you refreshed and energised.

When studying, switch your phone and email off to stop the distractions. Try to keep a focus on your health and well-being by not using things like drugs or alcohol; they can make it much harder to study.

6. Get a good night’s sleep

Many student’s think that they can gain an advantage by studying late at night, rather than getting a good night’s sleep. Research suggests otherwise. Lack of sleep affects concentration, memory and the ability to learn. Students need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. A good night’s sleep will ensure that students are refreshed for their next school day, and that they can tackle whatever tasks are given to them.

Get enough sleep throughout the year, but especially in the weeks before and during exams. This not only helps to consolidate what you have learnt during the day, but also helps you recharge and refocus on your work on the next day, which is important in maintaining effective study and high performance in exams.

And finally…

If the stress is getting to you – it will prevent you from studying effectively and confidently – so ask for help from a trusted adult, a teacher, a counsellor, or call a help line. We all know that this time of year is hard and anyone that has sat an exam knows how it can feel. Exams are one aspect of your life and once you have completed them it’s another moment to feel proud of yourself. You did it! Sitting the exams is a success in itself.

Well done! You did it.

Written by: Rose Stevens