By Carmen Botes
Top study tips:
1. Develop a routine
This will help to ensure that you get enough sleep in a day and make it easier to determine how much you can get done in a day. It doesn’t have to mean going to bed at eight and waking up at five the next morning to revise; everybody has their own routine and different ways of studying. Find out how you can work most effectively and try to stick to that routine. I’m more of a night person and work more productively late in the evening than early in the morning.
While it might be easiest to study the sections or subjects you like the most and are best at, this is not a good way of studying as these probably need the least amount of your time. First study work that you don’t understand or know well, rather than work you like the most.
3. Keep your work organised
By organising your notes according to subjects and different sections, it becomes easier to know whether you have all the work or whether you have left something out. This also makes it easier to study as you don’t have to frantically look for notes, which causes unnecessary stress, and you can use your time set aside for studying and not going through piles of old notes looking for something you’ve forgotten or lost.
4. Work well throughout the whole year
Concentrating in class and doing your homework consistently will make studying for exams a lot easier. By doing this, you won’t have to learn anything entirely new or for the first time before exams, and the work won’t feel so overwhelming. You will also have gone over the same work more times, which means that you’ll know it better by the time you have to write your exam.
5. Try to understand concepts rather than just memorising a textbook
While it is important to use the correct wording for some definitions, this will not necessarily help you answer more difficult (interpretation) questions. To see whether you really understand something, try to put it in your own words or explain it to someone else.
6. Do past papers and questions from previous exams
Doing exam questions is an extremely important part of studying, as it will test whether you really know the work and can help you to determine what still needs the most attention. There is a difference between studying from a textbook and feeling as if you know the work, and being able to answer questions by yourself. Do not look at the answer before finishing a question either, as this completely defeats the point of doing it in the first place!
7. Don’t let other people stress you out too much
Listening to stories about how some people study through the whole night or made pages and pages of notes can make you feel like you aren’t studying enough in comparison. Different people study in different ways, and while some people study effectively by making notes, you might do better reading aloud to yourself or highlighting in your textbook. Find the study method that works best for you and don’t worry about other people. I find that it is also a bad idea to discuss work with friends right before you go into an exam as this can stress you out completely, especially if they are discussing something you don’t know. By this stage, it is too late to do anything about it and instead of doing this, be confident in the studying you have done in preparation for the exam.
8. Don’t get stuck on something you don’t understand
If you get frustrated because you can’t get a problem right or you don’t understand a concept, take a break from it. If you focus for long on something you find tough, you will become more and more frustrated with it, making your chances of getting it right even smaller. Vary the sections you study, and perhaps after taking a break from it that one impossible maths problem will seem a bit easier.
9. Ask for help
If you still don’t understand something after trying by yourself for a while, don’t be afraid to ask one of your teachers or friends to help you. There might just be one thing that you are overlooking while studying, and talking about it with someone else can help a lot!
10. Reward yourself
After studying for a while (without distractions), take a break and do something you enjoy. It is crucial to take breaks from studying, and to take your mind off work now and then. Doing something you like, such as listening to music or exercising, will also provide with motivation as you study, as you know you will be able to have some fun when you finish a section or a study session. Don’t become so distracted that you don’t ever go back to studying but find something that you can do for a little while to relax.