Studying for my finals was certainly a stressful experience. But I've also learnt a lot of things on my way and decided to share them with you - so here are some tips on how to make studying a lot easier, I hope you'll find them helpful:
1. Preparation is everything. Make sure you got the right material to revise, that makes it so much easier. There are great books which help you study for exams and which summarise everything you need to know. I really liked to get interpretation books if I had to study for an exam about a novel or a drama - they give you great ideas and inspiration and they often provide really good summaries of the storyline and the main characters.
2. Plan your study time. If I only got a few weeks to study for more than one subject ( I had two weeks before my finals) I always make sure to write a list on what to study each day e.g. English - Shakespeare and Biology - Genetics on Tuesday and English - 1984 and Education Studies - Freud on Wednesday and so on. That really helps you to organise your studies so that you'll feel less overwhelmed by the amount you have to revise. Also make sure to leave at least 3 days free just before your exams so that you still have time left in case something goes wrong.
3. Take breaks and do something fun. If you attempt to study 24/7 you'll eventually lose your mind. Remember to take breaks and to set a certain time until when you'll study. I always got up relatively early and studied until 6 or sometimes 7 (I also took a few breaks in-between) and then either did something fun (meeting up with friends, going out for dinner etc) or I stayed at home and watched a movie or did something else to take my mind off. Also try and take a day off studying from time to time.
4. Write down the essential facts. Taking notes and writing the important stuff down really helps to memorise the content you need for your exams. It also makes studying a lot easier because you can focus on the essential content instead of having to go over all the information you got again and again. When I have to revise a novel I write down a summary of the book, information about the era it was published, information about the main characters and so on.
5. Make yourself comfortable. If you are a person who studies sitting in bed then surround yourself with a blanket and some soft cushions. I actually did that while I was studying but looking back I'd say that studying at your desk is the better option - studying in bed often led to distracting myself on the internet or to the decision to take a short nap. So wear some comfy clothes, organise your desk and only relax in your bed when you're taking a break.
6. Speaking of distraction - a good way of preventing that is to use an app that can block certain pages. I'm using the app 'Self Control' on my laptop and I can highly recommend it - it will block the pages you tell it to block and there is no way to undo it - not even by restarting your computer.
7. Talk to your friends who are taking the same exams. Or form a work group if you prefer working together to working alone. Exchanging ideas about the topics you have to study can be really helpful and it also helps to see if you're well-prepared or not.
8. Prepare a sheet of paper for each exam. No, I'm not talking about cheating in your exams. I'm talking about a summary of the most important facts and information that you can take to school on the day of your exam. My teachers used to say that there was no point in trying to memorise stuff right before your exam. I actually don't agree with that - in contrast, I think it is very helpful to quickly go over the most important facts you have to remember right before your exams start - that's what our short-term memory is for, right? Also this method helps you to keep calm as you'll spend less time sitting there thinking 'what if I'm not well-prepared'.
9. Watch YouTube videos. That might sound weird at first but if you have to study for a language exam watching videos can help you to learn new words and expressions. It also helps you to think in the language the exam will be in and you won't spend so much time translating the text or translating what you want to write about.
10. And last but not least - plan something you'll do after finishing your exams. That might be a few days away with your friends, a day of shopping, purchasing that lipstick you've wanted for a long time or simply a nice barbecue with your family. This is a great way of motivating yourself.
I hope this post will help some of you. What are your tips for successful studying? Leave a comment below. x