Work Smarter, Not Harder (Exams 101)

Posted by Studentbox user
on 02/10/2017 at in  Study help

Hey Guys! I'm in the 2nd Year of my Human Biology degree so I've sat a fair few exams in my time. With mock exams and WACE real close I thought I'd share some of my exam strategies :)

Firstly, there is no one-size fits all approach because everyone learns and studies differently so don't be alarmed if your revision techniques vary from what your friends are doing! With that being said, here are some tips I've found useful for staying sane during exam periods!

1) Stress --> A certain degree of stress is good because it can help motivate you and improve your alertness during the exam but too much can cloud your brain and cause you to freeze up. Most of the stress comes from nerves and those nerves are from worrying about failing, so solve the problem by preparing well and starting early. The more you prepare, the more confident you'll feel and the less (excess) stress you'll feel! You need to be honest with yourself too, there's no point weakly preparing and barely scratching the surface of any of your subjects, really knuckle down and do a good job and I promise on the day you'll be thankful for all your hard work.

2) Preparation --> Everyone studies differently and I always found that re-writing facts or lists, forming paragraphs to explain a complicated concept (in my own words) and highlighting key words to be most useful. I began by re-writing my bulky chapter notes in dot points, aiming to fit the entire chapter onto one sheet of paper (back and front). This helps you re-read your notes quickly because you don't have to flick through pages. I prefer to hand write but typing can also help if you struggle to fit everything onto the single page, you can format the document to print 2 sheets per page and fit more in that way. I'd then highlight only the key words that would make a complete (ish) sentence (usually no more than a few words) that would then be faster to read than the entire dot point. In this way you'll be able to re-read everything quickly when you need to whilst using only key words that will help prompt a memory when they come up in your exam. The key to this is to maintain the detail throughout the process, you're simply reducing the amount of pages your notes are on, not losing any detail in the notes themselves.

3) Self Care --> Personally I've never liked the expression "self-care", but I agree with what it means. Despite the pressure, the stress and the natural urge to continually work for hours and hours you need to try and keep a normal schedule. It's important to exercise, eat a healthy diet and sleep- even maintain a social life (within reason hehe). Exams are your priority but how can your brain perform its best if you aren't at your best? Imagine that you're an athlete, you can't perform without staying healthy and your brain behaves the same. Try and stick to a normal rhythm or come up with a new one- ROUTINE IS YOUR FRIEND! Block out times of the day where you'll do a few hours of one subject, break for lunch and then tackle another subject, then break again. I generally worked hard in the morning, had a long lunch then another afternoon session. I either worked or trained in the evening and did some reading before bed. The main thing is that you give your brain recovery periods to digest the new information and rest :)

In conclusion, start early, prepare well, stay healthy, work hard, play to your strengths and be honest with yourself.

PS: There's a bit more to it but these tips are a good place to start, feel free to send me a message or comment if you want any more advice!

-Adam :)


  • admin
    Studentbox User
    Thank you so much for your tips.
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