Stressing during an exam is common. Sometimes this comes from nerves about the time pressure of an exam, and sometimes this comes from not being prepared.
Over the next five posts, I’m going to give you tips on how to prepare for and relieve the stress of an exam. Surprisingly, this won’t help you if your exam is tomorrow, because good preparation comes over a longer period of time.
Tip #1: Study early
If you know there’s an exam coming up in week five on the content you’re learning in week one, start studying in week one.
Studying as early as you can will give you the best chance of retaining information and the ability to cover all necessary material. Studying early will also give you the chance to go over study material several times, which will further enhance your recall.
Procrastination can be your biggest enemy at this stage. I suggest creating a study plan or keeping a study diary to keep yourself on track.
Tip #2: Study often
Learning is a gradual process.
Although last-minute cramming might get you through the exam, the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve suggests that unless the learned information is reinforced, memory loss increases exponentially over time.
Repeatedly studying material will ensure maximum retention, which is particularly important if you’re studying in fields such as medicine.
“But I’m not studying medicine,” you say, ” so it’s not as important for me to retain information.”
Assumedly you’re at university to enhance your chances of obtaining your dream career, or for some similar, job-related reason. This means that what you’re learning is relevant to what you will be doing in the workforce.
Who do you think your future employer will hire – someone who just scraped a pass at university and who can’t recall any knowledge, or someone who achieved high marks and who can recall and put into action all knowledge they learned?
Tip #3: Get a study buddy
It may seem lame, and you might rather crawl underneath the covers and barricade yourself in your room than join a study group, but having someone help you study is beneficial for several reasons.
Working with other people can help you cover gaps in your own knowledge and also help you remember more information, since you may have to explain things to them.
Studying with someone also allows active recall because you can test each other.
It is also clear, that active recall is far more effective than passively rereading information. This means that we need to test ourselves.
And your study buddy can be absolutely anyone, not just someone else who is taking the same exam, although this is advantageous.
Learn how to create the best study space in my next post:
Preparing for an Exam Phase 2: Where to Study
Information and images sourced from:
ExamTime. 2013. “Create Your Online Study Plan.” Accessed September 23, 2014. https://www.examtime.com/study-planner/.
ExamTime. 2013. “free online study planner tool.” Image. Accessed September 23, 2014. https://www.examtime.com/study-planner/.
Nickson, Chris. 2014. “Learning by Spaced Repetition.” Accessed September 23, 2014. http://lifeinthefastlane.com/learning-by-spaced-repetition/.
Stahl, Stephen M., Richard L. Davis, Dennis H. Kim, Nicole Gellings Lower, Richard E. Carlson, Karen Fountain, and Meghan M. Grady. 2010. “Play it Again: The Master Psychopharmacology Program as an Example of Interval Learning in Bite-Sized Portions.” Accessed September 23, 2014. http://www.cnsspectrums.com/aspx/articledetail.aspx?articleid=2783.
Stahl, Stephen M., Richard L. Davis, Dennis H. Kim, Nicole Gellings Lower, Richard E. Carlson, Karen Fountain, and Meghan M. Grady. 2010. “The forgetting curve.” Image. Accessed September 23, 2014. http://www.cnsspectrums.com/aspx/articledetail.aspx?articleid=2783.
Tumblr. “Active recall.” Accessed September 23, 2014. https://www.tumblr.com/search/School/recent.
wikiHow. “How to Study for Exams.” Accessed September 23, 2014. http://www.wikihow.com/Study-For-Exams.