With the Leaving Cert and other state exams fast approaching, many students will find themselves facing that age-old, time versus workload dilemma. Faced with this problem, the popular solution of ‘cramming’ is the answer for many and whilst it is not an ideal approach to exam success, it can bring varying degrees of reward if done correctly. See some tips below for some cramming tips and study advice..
Balance – As in most areas of life, balance is important. When studying intensively it is vital to take short breaks to relieve stress and allow the information to sink in. Eating healthily, getting some exercise & fresh air and getting good sleep nightly should all play an important role in study leading up to exam-time.
Plan – As the old adage goes ’fail to plan, plan to fail’. Check your exam time-table, plan the most effective study times in the days leading up to the exams, any free evening hours and on the days you don’t have any exams. Create a study plan, marking out the times clearly for study based on subject & time per subject. Try not to spend too much time on any one subject at a time. Changing a subject after a few hours can be as good as a rest for a beleaguered brain.
Notes – Highlight the important points from notes or textbooks. Jot the most important of these down in point format using Flash Cards or small sheets of paper. Try to memorise these important points by rewriting them or saying them aloud. It has been shown that we need to use information at least 7 times before it becomes logged to long-term memory. This can be done by repeating (aloud if possible) or rewriting important points without looking at the original text.
Memorise – Memorisation techniques are another highly effective way of recalling important information at exam-time. One such technique is to write a series of points on a sheet of paper or flash card. Highlight the first letter of each point and create a rhyme or statement as an acronym from these letters. The more nonsensical & humorous the better as it will be remembered easily. Now try reciting the points based on the acronym created.
Sleep – Numerous studies have shown the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function. Not only will memory be impaired but general mood, energy levels and reasoning will all suffer. So don’t be tempted to pull an all-nighter. If you have to limit sleep, try to get the most you possibly can as it will be important for stamina throughout exam-time.
Positive Thinking – Many things come down to perspective. It is easy to get carried away at exam time and become anxious about performance and the importance of good results. Try to keep the mood upbeat by listening to some positive music or having a laugh with friends and family. A positive mental attitude will not only stand to you at exam time but may be more important than any exam results when the time comes to step onto the career ladder.
The tips above may be helpful for exam success, however the most important thing to remember is that the exams are simply another stepping stone on the route to further study & future career. If you trip on that step then there are plenty of other routes available as shown by many successful people. Alternatively bear in mind that even with excellent results there are plenty of other steps ahead and choosing a suitable college course should not be influenced too heavily by academic results but also by genuine interests and aptitudes. Best of luck to all those sitting state exams in the weeks ahead!