While I mentioned in my last post that homework is as important as study in the learning process, students often find independent study more difficult than prescribed homework. It’s easy to form a mental block about studying, avoiding thinking about it or focusing on getting it over with, but thinking about how to get the most from your study is vital to exam success. Students who are preparing to sit Leaving Cert or Junior Cert exams in 2015 will find the following tips particularly helpful, but with Christmas exams approaching many other students will benefit from learning how to get the most from their study.
1. Get organised
Good organisation is the first step towards exam success. Keep all of your notes and other study materials in one place, with each topic in a separate folder. Ensure that your study space and school locker are clean and tidy and that you have enough supplies such as pens, highlighters, paper, and flashcards. Staying organised in school and at home will prepare students for getting the most from their study.
2. Make a timetable
Beginning your study timetable early in the year will allow you to avoid many common mistakes and ensure that you can cover every topic properly. Make a list of each topic that has to be covered in each of your subjects and enter these topics into your timetable one subject at a time. Check to see which books and other supplies you need each day before leaving school. Crossing each day off gives students a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, increasing motivation and productivity.
3. Aim for quality, not quantity
One of the biggest mistakes made by the vast majority of students is to measure study in minutes and hours. By “sitting down to do x hours of study”, these students often leave work unfinished when their set time is up or waste time in order to appear as though they have done more work. A much better strategy is to decide to study a topic until you know and understand it no matter how much time it takes. This method allows students to increase their productivity and get the most from their study.
4. Get connected
Studying can often appear to be a solitary activity, but don’t hesitate to ask your teachers, friends, or classmates for help if necessary. Online resources can improve your understanding of a topic if your textbook isn’t enough, and personalised tuition can be extremely helpful for students of all levels. Seeking help and extra resources will allow you to get the most from your study by making use of extra information.
5. Test yourself
One of the most effective ways of assessing your study sessions is to test yourself using questions from your textbooks or exam papers. Short questions are particularly useful for testing your understanding of theory-based subjects such as biology, and this understanding is absolutely vital in more practical subjects such as maths. Being tested by a friend or parent can be even more effective, particularly during study for oral exams, and asking another person to test your knowledge will allow you to get the most from your study.
6. Look after yourself
Getting the most from your study doesn’t mean overworking yourself on a daily basis. Try to complete your study by approximately ten o’clock each night, and take regular breaks to avoid burning out. Take a day off occasionally and remember to reward yourself on a regular basis. Ensure that your diet and sleeping pattern are balanced and healthy, and exercise regularly to improve your physical and mental health. You can’t do your best if you don’t feel your best, so look after yourself in order to get the most from your study.
The tips above will help students of all ages to prepare for the upcoming Christmas exams and beyond through more productive and enjoyable study. Tweet us @adaptemy or post on our Facebook page and let us know your study tips!