Many students have a fantastic time during their studies, but when it comes to completing final tests and examinations, they fail miserably. Do not let the last hurdle keep you from graduating. By putting these few ideas into practice, you can achieve your goals and keep focused to the very end.
Get your support system in place
- Let others know about your plan and goals. Make sure your family and friends realise that what you are doing is important, so that they take your studies seriously. It is much easier to do well if people support you.
- Prepare your family and friends by giving them your study schedule. This includes dates and times for when assignments are due and examinations are too be written.
- Ask your family for practical support. Someone could for instance to take over some of your household tasks during crucial periods like exams.
- Celebrate your success with them.
The earlier you start, the more time you will have to prepare for the examination. Organise your study material and make sure you have everything so that you don’t have to run around at the last minute.
Prepare to study for examinations
- Study where you are comfortable and make sure you have all the necessary ‘tools’. Establish a definite place of study with good ventilation and lighting and make sure there are no sounds or visual distractions. Ensure that the study area requires you to sit upright and have back support. Organise sufficient writing area and stock it with paper, pencils and a dictionary. Also consider putting your phone on voice mail so that no calls interrupt your study time.
- Study sessions should have enough variety in terms of topics or activities to prevent boredom and loss of concentration.
o Take short breaks while studying – 10 minutes for every 50 to 60 minutes of study.
o Be gentle on yourself during times of examinations.
o Stock up your fridge and grocery cupboard before exams.
o Leave tiring chores and errands for after the stressful times.
o Eat healthy, drink lots of water and get enough sleep.
o Reward yourself for every small accomplishment.
Creating a study plan
Create a plan to help you study effectively and minimise stress. The following questions can help you decide how much time and effort you should allocate for each subject or section.
- How much material do you need to cover?
- How difficult is the study material?
- How much time is available?
- Do you have any other priorities during the study period?
- What is the format of the exam?
- How important is the exam?
- What is your target for the exam?
Make a condensed version of your readings and study notes by creating a summary. Focus on the key terms and concepts and make sure that you understand them. The process of making summary notes can help you to remember more information. By writing down the information whilst carefully thinking about it instead of just seeing it, you can develop a better understanding of the material. Activate your other senses: you can recite the summary notes aloud, and even record and listen to it.
Use flashcards to memorise important facts. Reduce your summary notes to bullet points, keywords, lists, formulas or diagrams and place each topic on a card. You can carry the cards with you and review them in your free time.
Practice under exam conditions
To know the course material is important but it is not enough to guarantee success in the examination. You are only ready for the exams if you are able to communicate the answers effectively under pressure.
- Practice using sample questions in the same format as the examination. You can find these sample questions in old exam papers and assignments. Even though you are only practicing, it is better to write down full answers to the questions so that you can work through the entire thought process.
- Simulate examination conditions. Practice finishing an old paper in the allocated timeframe.
- The practice session should serve as a learning curve. Check the answers to the practice questions to determine your strengths and weaknesses. If you are weak in an area, go back and study it in more detail to fill any gaps.