No Cramming! For real
Studying in intervals of around 20-50 minute increments with 5-10 minutes in between is more beneficial than studying for hours on end. This type of distribution of studying over time has shown benefits to long-term retention more than a short period of cramming. An example of this type of studying is the Pomodoro technique.
Eating well (during studying, and before the exam!)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but it’s so easy to skip this in lieu of more study time/extra nap time. But research suggests that nutrition plays a role in helping you focus better, having more energy and essentially studying better. Implementing the following into your diet can be beneficial to your study: protein, antioxidants, omega-3, dietary cholesterol, monounsaturated fats, moderate amounts of caffeine, and of course – water!
Squeeze in a quick cardio sesh
It seems counterproductive to make time for something else while you’re studying – but research says that just 20 minutes of cardio can improve your memory, as well as increase your energy level and reduce the effects of stress.
Time management – of course!
Cramming before your exams can cause anxiety which lowers your ability to retain information. You can avoid this by developing a balanced study plan and schedule. If you’re struggling more with one particular unit, prioritise it and spend a bit more time on this one, making sure you still plan time for the others. You can also plan weeks in advance to an exam to allocate your study time. We have a great blog post on planning here.
Avoid an all-nighter
While this can seem like the best option for you at the time, it can be detrimental to your performance. A 2008 study shows that all-nighters impair reasoning and memory for as long as four days. Another study from Dan Taylor, director of a sleep-and-health-research lab at the University of North Texas also finds that all-nighters interfere with rapid-eye movement (REM) which aids with memory. However, Taylor suggests reviewing the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test, as it is easier to recall later.
While reviewing, re-reading, highlighting and summarising would seem like the best way to study, this isn’t the most optimal way to prepare! A 2013 study found that these techniques do not consistently boost students’ performance, and that practice testing through the use of flashcards or practice exams were a highly effective studying technique.
Try out these tips if you are finding yourself in need of exam study tips. Good luck!