If you are reading this, you are probably under serious pressure with the upcoming junior or leaving certificate, or you know someone who is going to be sitting exams in the next couple of weeks. These exams can be very daunting for students, with a lot of emphasis placed on the results of the exams meaning a lot of stress in the time coming up to, and during these exams.
After surviving the Junior Cert, Leaving Cert and college exams myself, I have a few simple tips to try and make the process a small bit easier for you:
Get plenty of sleep – I know this can be tough, with the panic making all-nighters look like a good idea to try and cram as much information as you can into your head, but sleep is the most important thing when it comes to helping your brain work well. If you decide to start swapping your sleep for study, this is fairly counter-productive. You are better off getting as much sleep as you can as your brain would be more likely to crash during an exam, or draw blanks when you haven’t given yourself enough time to recharge.
Eat your three meals a day (including breakfast!) – Eating is another essential part of keeping your body and mind working efficiently. Try eating foods high in omega fatty acids as they are known to make you ‘smarter’ (helping your brain to function). Foods that contain these omegas are things like fish, chia seeds, nuts and eggs. Try and make sure to try and include some of these foods in your diet everyday! Nuts or bananas are the perfect healthy snack to have with your while your studying and are great foods to bring into the exam to keep the hunger at bay while you furiously write.
Keep hydrated – WITH WATER. Don’t fall into a habit of drinking sugary, fizzy drinks, not only are they terrible for your teeth but the sugar rush you get from the drinks will be soon followed by a sugar crash, meaning you’ll be even more thirsty, and more tired after drinking one of these drinks. Swap the lucozade for water, or even a sugar free dilute.
Make a plan – whether this is with studying or when you are sitting the exam, ensure to make out a timetable of when you are going to get topics or questions done, and when it is time to move onto the next question. This is to make sure you aren’t giving too much time to one topic, and leaving yourself short on time for another.
Don’t study 24/7 – Even though you are feeling all of this pressure to be studying non-stop, don’t put yourself under too much pressure, allow yourself some time to relax during the day, give yourself a breather for a while. Try read a book not relating to school, go for a walk and get some fresh air or even start scribbling in a colouring book (not as childish as it sounds). Let your mind shut off for a little bit before you bury your head in the books.
Stick to a timetable – When your studying make sure to set yourself a time limit, with short breaks in between. This plan of breaks will cut down on when you’re sitting there staring blankly at a page, get up, walk around, just clear your head during your short breaks and this means you will come back to the book with a fresh head.
Keep up your hobbies – Don’t let the pressure of exams make you give up any sport you may play – it isn’t a waste of time, playing sport and getting out in the fresh air can be a major stress reliever and a chance to meet people outside of the walls of school or your study room.
Past exam papers are your best friend – No matter what subject you are studying, pick a topic, study it, do the exam questions . Rinse and Repeat. This is probably one of the most obvious tips, but this method of studying a topic really makes it stick in your brain as it’s easy to see exactly what you know and don’t know about a topic quickly when you do exam papers. The questions on topics don’t tend to change either, so once you know the answers to the questions on one topic you can move onto the next!
Flashcards – This is an easy way to condense down any topic you are on into a few easy words that you can scan over before the exam. Whatever topic you’re on, write down the keywords,definitions or quotes etc. and there you have your own summary of each topic, meaning you won’t have to look at reams of paper the night before.
Attempt every question on the exam!! – I know it is a cliche but leaving a blank mark ensures you are getting 0 marks for that question. Even if you do not have a clue what the answer is, just try and put down something, anything is better than nothing. You never know you might get something for your attempt!
Good luck to everyone during this torturous time! For more exam tips and tricks check out the Revise Wise Study Skills & Exam Essentials book here!