It’s that time of year again—and no, we’re not referring to winter or the holidays, but that time when everyone starts to camp out in the library, sleep deprived and totally immersed in textbooks and note-taking. But exam time doesn’t needto be the few weeks out of your year when you are exhausted, frazzled and stressed out. There are plenty of things that you can do to maximize your study time while still taking good care of yourself and de-stressing.
Devise a studying timetable and stick to it! Allocating slots of 40 minutes to each topic with 10 minute breaks has been scientifically proven to help students gather and assess information in a more efficient manner. Don’t read the information straight out a book or off of the internet, make sure you copy and rewrite it in your own words. Also, color-code and star certain aspects of your notes to bring the make sense of the information and help you to remember it in the long run. You should also try and study the most difficult areas first thing in the morning because you’re more likely to retain tedious information first thing, as opposed to doing it last thing at night when you’re tired and in a rush to get it done with.
Eat healthy. Make sure that you’re eating properly–3 meals a day with a healthy breakfast, your main meal at lunch, and a lighter meal in the evening. Some foods, such as fish, nuts and dried fruit, have also been known to help student memory. You could also try making some fruit and veggie smoothies to make sure that you get your 5 a day on the go!
Sleep. Students should ‘shut down’—that means no notes, study sessions or textbooks– at least an hour before going to bed. You should also aim for at least 8 hours sleep per night so that you’ll wake up well rested the next morning. Try and steer clear of any sleep medication, including herbal remedies, and instead try running a warm bath before going to bed to help you relax.
Drink plenty. We are of course talking about water and other non-alcoholic fluids. Research has shown that keeping your body hydrated helps you ingest information and keep you more alert. Though your morning routine may call for that first cup of joe, try and resist – coffee makes you nervous and can actually dehydrate you! If you aren’t ready to give it up completely, at least cut back to one or two cups per day.
Be positive. Stress loves negative energy. Believe in yourself and don’t forget to treat yourself to something you enjoy, i.e. music, food, or shopping, every now and again to keep you motivated and willing to learn.