Best Study Tips for Exams

Saturday, November 21, 2015
 It's the examination period for many, some of us are done with it while others are still struggling. In terms of contents, the contrast between my diploma (bioengineering) and my degree (communications) are huge. From the countless number of essays to information so foreign to me, I had a hard time coping. Especially during my first semester, I was practically crying at every single deadline. I was under a lot of stress, but over the years, things got easier and I changed my studying methods. I will share some study tips that have helped me to absorb information from five different modules within a short span of ten days. Don't worry, not hardcore mugging but effective instead.


There are three primary types of learners: Auditory (Hear), Visual (See), and Kinesthetic (Touch/Action). You may check out this site for more information. Most people have a combination of two types, knowing which group you belongs to will significantly aid you in your revision.  Back in secondary school, we did a test and the results show that I am an Auditory & Kinesthetic learner. Fast forward to the present, auditory never help me at all but visual was the one I actually excel in. After realising that fact, I incorporated mindmaps into my revision and they are the game changer. 


A lot of people make the mistake of studying at non-conducive places. A poor study area comprises of distractions such as a computer, smartphone or noise. I really advise clearing away social media accounts- turn off notifications, remove the applications from your phone, or delete the accounts. Some people focus better with group studying, but for myself, I will opt for that only if I want to socialise, doing calculations, or I needed help. Otherwise, I have always been an independent learner, thus making my room the most conducive place for me.

Each person has different time preference to study: either day or night. Personally, my brain function better in the wee hours, it's quieter and more peaceful so I would switch my body clock to accommodate my studying habits; sleep when the sun has rises and wake in the afternoon. 


Paying attention and listening in class are a good start. Anything written on the whiteboard could be of importance and be sure to take down good notes. Especially, when the lecturer spent more time explaining a topic, a subtle hint of informing you that it will appear in the exam paper. The marks allocation for the entire modules- quiz, assignments, exams or projects matters as well. If you're running out of time, emphasis on the one with higher percentage to attain more marks.

What will the papers be tested on- definition, application, calculation, or all of it? Definition based paper requires tons of memorising- easy to study, easy to score but be sure to revise early. Application based paper requires your overall understanding of the module- somewhat easy and difficult to study, only easy to score if you are able to analysis the question and justify your answer properly. Calculation paper requires practicing and understanding- a headache to study, easy to score and remember to clarify whether the formula will be given during the paper. 


Past year papers will be your lifesaver. Despite having all the information readily available in your head, entering the exam hall, turning over the paper, revealing the first question will give you a shock. The questions formed in your head are usually different from the papers. I always glanced through the past year papers first before attempting any revision. Always look at least three papers back to give you a guideline to prevent you from learning useless information or missing out important ones.


Falling sick is probably the worse thing to happen, so come up with a routine and preventive measure  (e.g. herbal tea, medication, lozenges) to avoid that. Ensure you have enough sleep every day; a full eight hours or multiple four hours nap, and make sure you are well hydrated. Typical advise but our immune system weakens when we are deprived of sleep or water. Instead of sitting on your desk the whole day, be more active! Exercise have been proven to boost memory and brain power. Finally, take the time to rewind, relax and do not stress. Movies or video clips are good for a long period while games are perfect for the short period. I am hooked to Crayon Shin-Chan - stupid cartoons are the best to clear your mind - and Kings games (Candy Crush, Soda Crush & Blossom Blast) on my phone. Depending on your preference, you pick an activity that best help you to relax. 


When I'm doing statistics (or any kind of calculations), I will listen to Your Favourite Coffeehouse on Spotify, but most of the time it's the night silence I hear. I don't know how people manage to focus with music playing in the background, it's so distracting. When I hear a song, I sing along, and it just snowballs into a thirty minutes singing session. Research have shown that classical music is the best for concentrating, I've tried it, didn't work for me, but it might for you. 


I assume all examinations are the same, however, during my first university's paper I ran out of time. Ever since then, I scribble. Of course, it has to be legible for the markers. But seriously, they don't grade your handwriting. So who are you trying to impress? A tip from my lecturer is to leave a line in between your sentences. Should you make a mistake, this allows you to add in the additional/correct words, furthermore, much easier for the marker to read and grade.

These are basically the summary of all the study tips I used and please remember to revise early, otherwise you will regret the last minute studying like I did. I cannot promise you will score an A, but I guarantee an average B grade and the possibility of leaving the examination hall early (who don't like that?!).  I hope it could be useful to some of you because it did for me. All the best to those who are having their exams. Remember to study smart, not hard.

Till then.