Here in the Super Generation we work with thousands of students each year, sharing with them our expertise in study skills and well-being. Yet recently my own nephews nabbed me in Granny’s, asking what they should be doing differently so that they can do well in their exams this summer. My sister happened to be standing beside me at the time and said, “Surely there are some simple steps that can make all the difference?” This made me stop and think, what would be the best advice I could give to help students, particularly at this time of the year.
So what can students do now – is it too late? Well the first thing to remember is that it is never too late. Do not start a massive countdown to the examinations as this will only put you under more pressure and stress you further. Did you know that your brain works less effectively if you are under constant stress, so whilst a little bit of pressure is good to motivate you and get you up and going, the last thing you need is to be distressed going into exams.
So here are a few simple tips that I shared with my nephews and which might help you too.
- Be organised – Draw up a timetable between now and the exams and fill in all your subjects, making sure each subject gets equal time, even the ones you don’t like. Your timetable should also include your recreational time. It’s really important that you maintain a balance, where you can have some down time to switch off.
- Mix and match – I bet just like everybody else you have certain subjects and topics that you like more than others and some you can’t even bear to open the book. Well what you do is make sure in your timetable that you have a variety each night of subjects and topics that you both dislike and like. Try to start and finish with subjects that you like as this will ease you into your study and leave you feeling a bit better at the end.
- Turn your distractions into rewards – We all love our mobile phone, TV, social media etc. yet these things can distract us from our study. Rather than wasting time trying to ‘detox’ or cut them out of your life between now and the exams, simply set yourself targets for what you want to achieve in your study and reward yourself with time set aside for these distractions.
- Break it down – the most valuable notes you will ever own are the ones you create yourself. It is easier for your brain to remember breaking down the topic yourself into its key parts and seeing how everything comes together rather than simply reading what someone else wrote. A one-page summary of a topic where everything is all together on the page is the best. You also need to read your notes regularly, writing out lovely notes and having them sit in a folder is not much good.
- Plan your paper – familiarise yourself with the exam paper. Not every question carries the same marks; know what topics you are strongest at. Go through past papers and past questions that you would have covered in class with your teacher.
The key is not to go wasting loads of time drawing up elaborate plans at this stage, just simply find out what you have to do and then do it.
But if you do find yourself getting stressed, talk to your parents, teachers or even your uncle. We have all been through it!