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Organising your time and preparing for exams is an essential step towards developing student academic autonomy and achieving exam success. The following steps can help get you started.
Step 1: Time to Study
The golden rule to prepare for an exam is don’t leave it until the last minute. Make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare for your exams so that you can comprehensively cover the relevant topics, and avoid putting yourself under last-minute stress. In order to plan your study time, you need to identify the following:
- Exam details—date/time/location.
- Exam requirements—multiple-choice/short-answers/essays/open or closed book.
- Exam weight—% of overall unit marks.
- Exam topics—find out what topics the exam will cover.
Step 2: Study Timetable
- Estimate how much time it will take you to revise the topics for the exam. Some subjects may require more effort than others due to the quantity or nature of the topics you need to cover.
- Allocate time to prepare for each exam and you can create a study timetable.
- Stick to your study timetable.
Step 3: Organise
Take a moment to organise your study space, your study materials and yourself. If you are organised, it is harder to procrastinate.
Step 4: Study Techniques
The study techniques that you can use to revise your study materials include:
- Re-reading your lecture notes, course materials, text book, and class notes.
- Conceptualising key topics/theories/themes through the use of mind-maps, flow-charts and diagrams—develop memory mnemonics and identify key terms and definition so that your brain identifies patterns and creates memory links.
- Creating study notes with subject/topic summaries (see example below).
- Reading over your unit learning objectives and using them to create questions. Write answers to your questions using only your study notes—did you find any gaps in your knowledge? If so go back to your course materials and find the answer.
- Rehearsing your knowledge by quizzing yourself, teaching a friend, joining a study group and practising with each other.
- Reviewing old exam papers.
Step 5: Be Kind to Yourself
- Make sure you get eight hours sleep as sleep enhances your memory.
- Try and study during the day rather than late at night when you may already feel tired.
- Eat healthy foods that enhance your brain function and memory.
- Drink plenty of water as dehydration impairs memory and affects focused attention.
- Take breaks during your study time to refresh your focus and energy levels.