For many of you, it’s that time of the year again. You’re spending hours in front of your computer screen, your desk is covered in papers, your books are your best friends, and you drink an average of eight cups of tea or coffee per day. Yes, it’s exam time!
Whether you’re finishing school, sitting for university exams, or working towards an internationally recognised English qualification, studying can be a frustrating experience.
Exam success depends on many things, especially time management. That’s why we’re giving you this simple study advice to get you started. We want you to feel ready and confident to sit for your exams!
1. Get comfortable
Studying involves sitting still for long periods of time so make sure that you find a spot you love. Small nuisances such as a wobbly chair, a table that’s too low, or a slightly chilly breeze can affect your productivity.
If possible, sit near a window for natural light, then think of other comforts you’ll need. A bowl of snack food, a jug of drinking water and a blanket to wrap around you when it’s cold. Create your own little study haven and you’ll be impressed at how much this will help you focus.
2. Eliminate distractions
When working on a task that you find difficult or boring, you can easily lose your focus. Try to disconnect from the things that distract you. Turn off your phone, tell your friends not to contact you, and maybe even use a website blocker to ban your favourite social media sites during the hours you plan to study.
3. Choose the right time
Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Figure out whether you can focus better in the early hours of the morning or closer to midnight. It is also useful to study at the same time every day so that you create a routine.
4. Manage your time and set daily goals
A study calendar is extremely valuable. Work out how many days there are before you have to sit for your exam, then look at the topics you have to cover and assign them to each day, with a few days left before the exam, for revision.
You could then write a daily, detailed to-do list with your goals for each day. Be realistic, if you set yourself too many goals for the day, you’ll feel disappointed in yourself when you can’t achieve them and this will discourage you to continue the next day. If on the other hand you set yourself an easy target, you might lag behind.
5. Take breaks and relax
Sitting in the same place may make you restless and if you find that you’re reading the same page over and over again but not managing to absorb any information, chances are that you need a break.
It’s good to get away from your study environment regularly, especially your computer … No, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed is not a relaxing break!
Try to get outdoors for a few minutes, take a short walk or practise your favourite sport. This will help you get your mind off your studies and motivate you to get back to work.
6. Ask for help
If something is troubling you, don’t waste precious time trying to figure it out. While studying, make a list of questions that you want to ask your teacher or a fellow student. When something is explained to you by another person, you’ll find it quicker and easier to understand. If this isn’t possible you could go online and post your query on a student forum.
7. Study creatively
There are three main ‘learner styles’, and although people usually learn best through a combination of these, you might find that certain methods make it easier for you to memorise facts.
1. As a visual learner, you are able to remember things that you see. Study methods that you could benefit from include using pictures, diagrams and colour-coded notes.
2. Auditory learners, on the other hand, remember things that they hear. Try singing your notes to the tune of your favourite song, or inventing a rhyme on each topic!
3. The third learning style is kinaesthetic, which is learning through touch and movement. One study method for a kinaesthetic learner could involve combining an activity with studying, for example listening to an audio recording of a lecture while jogging, or making something with your hands.
8. Revise every day
This is perhaps the most important study tip… revision! Before you start a new study day, go back to what you covered the previous day. Repetition is what helps us to store information in our long-term memory. This means that you’ll be able to think much faster while answering test questions under pressure.
Studying doesn’t have to be difficult and stressful, especially when you are properly prepared. At EC, we offer exam preparation courses for Cambridge ESOL, IELTS, TOEFL and TOEIC. We have high success rates, and teachers who can train you in the specific techniques you need to get great results.
We wish you all the best of luck in your exams!