Organised Study Time
Most of us can remember waiting nervously outside the sports hall clutching our clear pencil case crammed with pens (and back up pens!) in readiness for our exams. But when your children are in the same boat, or we undertake exams as adults, it can feel even more nerve-racking! Thankfully though, there’s much you can do to help yourself or your child to get prepared for exams, whether it’s SATs, GCSEs, A Levels, university or post graduate exams, here’s what the experts recommend:
- Shorter study periods. You might have been a last minute Lucy or cramming Charlie when it came to your exams as a child but that doesn’t mean you should follow the same patterns as an adult. Marilyn Devonish, aka The NeuroSuccess Coach says: “It seems obvious, but leave yourself enough time to review the material. Unless you have a photographic memory, most people require repetition and incubation. This strengthens the neurological pathways and ingrains the knowledge, thus aiding your memory and recall. Several short focused study periods are often more effective than one burning the midnight oil long slog.”
- Tools of the trade. Every job becomes easier when you are organised, and studying is no different. Sarah is a tutor and founder of Sincerely Essie, an online magazine focusing on women’s lifestyle, health & parenting, and advises: “Keeping a clutter-free space ensures there are less distractions. Keep designated areas for different items like pens and highlighters. Limit the amount of loose paper and utilise notebooks and post it notes more, as it’s difficult to keep track of note order with loose paper. You can also colour code for different subjects or topics.” Our bestselling Black Carousel Storage Organiser has long tubs big enough to store pens and short tubs for paperclips and smaller items, whilst our Tilt Bins are ideal for post it notes, highlighters and more. And as they’re interlocking you can arrange them just as you like!
- Getting in the zone. Writing coach Greta Solomon is the author of Just Write It! How to Develop Top-Class University Writing Skills (McGraw-Hill, 2013) and suggests that you can put your body and mind in the ideal state to perform: “If you’re usually frazzled and on edge during exams then you’re operating on beta energy, if you’re more spaced out and sleepy it points to theta energy but the optimum state is the alert and relaxed state that comes from alpha energy.” Greta advises: “Boost alpha energy by exercise, yoga and meditation and listening to Baroque music which has the magic 60 beats per minute to stimulate thinking and creativity.”
- Mind maps. Achieving exam success can also be about study techniques. Marilyn Devonish suggests mind maps: “Mind maps mimic the way the mind and brain works by creating visual links and connections. It means rather than learning each module in isolation you can see the links and connections, but also understand them more comprehensively, which is where those all-important extra marks come from. I’ve had clients go from repeatedly failing their exams to getting top marks after implementing this simple strategy.”
- Getting your head down. As much as you can prepare for exams, much of your success comes down to performance on the day. Greta Solomon whose latest book Heart, Sass & Soul is packed with journaling exercises to help you write freely agrees, saying: “Make sure your exam preparation includes plenty of writing using a pen and paper. This will increase the likelihood of you physically being able to write as much as you can.” Marilyn Devonish offers this final gem: “You know something when you can teach others, so talk through key concepts, formulas, facts and so on.” When you feel confident and prepared, you’re ready to face that exam!