Whether your exam-season is in full swing, or you’re gearing up for the painful cramming blitz after Christmas, it’s never a bad time to refresh some of our favourite go-to study hacks.
Take Better Notes
What better time than exam season to crack out all the gorgeous stationary and that vast collection of highlighters that you stocked up on at the beginning of the year, but still haven’t used once. A good tip is to try to imagine you’re writing notes for someone else to read and you’ll be more likely to improve their quality with colour, mind-maps and diagrams. Also, use flash cards and post-it notes to jot down the keywords or concepts that you’re struggling with, that way you’ll have them right at hand to keep refreshing them.
Recite Your Notes Aloud
Maybe not the best study hack to attempt in an over-crowded library or busy cafe, but if you’re studying somewhere private, reciting your notes out loud is proven to drastically increase your information retention. For the same reason, recording your lectures and playing them back during exam time is a great way to jog your memory and can also help you to squeeze in some revision while commuting or exercising.
Block Distracting Websites
Nothing interrupts your attempts at concentration more than the temptation of a Facebook notification or the desire to scroll through Twitter and Instagram for hours on end. As we’re sure there’s not a person alive with the willpower to resist a flashing notification, using an app like SelfControl or ColdTurkey can help you focus by allowing you to block distracting websites for a set period of time.
Take Regular Breaks
Somehow we doubt this is a hack that too many people will find difficult to implement. For many of us, study week can feel like one long procrastination-fueled “study break”. The secret, believe it or not, is to fit in some study between those breaks. Whether it’s a tea break or a short walk, be sure to give yourself a reward after every 40-50 minutes of hard work to motivate you and help your brain absorb more information.
Choose The Right Study Soundtrack
If you like listening to music when you study, choosing some ambient, instrumental or classical music is usually your best bet, as listening to vocals while studying can impair your information retention. If you’re stuck for ideas, or can’t quite face another hour of Mozart, there are some wonderful study-themed playlists on 8tracks.com: http://8tracks.com/explore/study
Teach Someone What You’ve Learned
One of the best ways to make sure you fully understand a concept and will retain it, is to try and teach it to someone else.
Study In A Group
Just like tutoring, studying in a group is a great way to come to terms with difficult coursework. Not only does it have the benefits of shared notes, resources and talents, but a study group can provide a great support system in the run up to stressful exams. Who knows, find the right study-buddies and they could even make studying fun!
Get Enough Sleep
While it can be very tempting to try to power through exam week on coffee and red bull, a lack of sleep is detrimental to your revision as detailed information is only committed to memory during deep sleep. In fact, losing just one night’s sleep can impair your reasoning for up to four days. So the best way to get the most out of your time is to still try to get your 8 hours sleep at night.
Fit in Some Exercise
While you may feel like you don’t have a minute to spare with exams looming, going for a brisk walk or hitting the gym for an hour can really break up a long study session and has been proven to improve brain power. The fresh air and change of scenery alone can help you de-stress and return to your notes with fresh eyes.
Change It Up
Tempting as it may be to try to study in bed all day, or to sit glued to your hard-won desk in the crowded library, sitting in the same place all day can affect your ability to remember what you’re reading. Simply changing the location of where you study can help you retain more information and keep you focused.