Study tips from Jaime.
Our head tutor Jaime from the Begvliet branch took time out of her own insane studying and tutoring schedule to share some of her advice on studying before the upcoming exams. Have a look and see if you could benifit from her hard learned advice:
Being a student myself, I find it challenging, at best to follow the advice I give to my students when it comes to studying. I know we all feel the need to have the drive and motivation needed to study for hours on end, but the truth is; we just don’t.
In all respects and across all boards and subjects, the most difficult part of studying is starting. Starting; by sitting in a quiet, well ventilated environment which is well lit. Starting; by having specially allocated books and files where your study notes will live. Starting; by making sure that you have all the material needed to study the subject so that you won’t be distracted by notes which have gone missing. It is the most difficult part, but if you are sufficiently prepared; starting only can roll over to studying and learning.
For all practical purposes; there are a few tips and opinions I can give:
- Make sure that you have a practical plan. You cannot conductively study for 16 hours straight. Break sections up into as many subsections as needed and take them in smaller chunks. This not only helps you cover all the work required in detail, but it is a confidence booster when you can cross tasks off of a list.
- Take breaks, but be disciplined. Your brain does not work at its optimum level if you force it to be pressured. So yes, take breaks, but, be disciplined about it. Your break should not last longer than one quarter of the time you are studying for, and it should be an active break. No sitting on your Phone! Get up, stretch, make a cup of tea and then get back to studying; ready and refreshed.
- You are not a photocopier, so don’t act like one. Now, I understand that definitions and theorems are set, so they will be the exception to the rule; so write them out to the T. What I mean is; copying exactly word-for-word from a note or a textbook will not help you understand any better. You are basically becoming a glorified photocopier who retains no knowledge. Often, I have written rough notes for my students and make them go back and re-write them in their own words. Nobody understands you better than you do. Writing concepts out with your own understanding (and correctly) helps you comprehend concepts on a deeper level. If you are worried that your notes might not be adhering to the rules in place, check with your teacher or tutor.
- Teach. Once you feel you have mastered a section, the best way to cement your understanding is to teach. Personally, I re-explain concepts to myself or my stuffed animals; but living people are good too J. The more simple and straightforward you can explain a concept, the better it shows your understanding to be. While doing this, you might find yourself thinking of concepts in a new, more manageable way.
- Practice. Although there is a lot of theory, a subject like math is only mastered by continuous practice. With that being said, your academics, like many things in life, is a marathon; and not a sprint. The smaller chunks of work you do every day to improve your understanding goes much further than intensive study for one day straight. Every exercise, past paper and lesson learned all helps you paint the bigger picture in your comprehension.
The day of the exam can be quite stressful as well, I have a few tips leading up to this:
- Avoid cramming. Cramming the night before often leads to a lack of sleep, which in itself is detrimental to your mood and concentration during exams. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of an early start. Start studying a month in advance if you have to.
- No feasts before you write. Believe me, I have been there. I suggest you do eat before exams but not in excess, you want the blood flowing to your brain and not your stomach! It is very difficult to try and concentrate when your body needs to digest a large intake of food. Also avoid very sugary foods and drinks to avoid the ‘crash’ after the sugar ‘high’ has worn off.
- Take time to strategize. You have an idea of what will be asked. Focus on your strong points the most, I’m in no way saying leave questions out; but focus on having a plan going in to the exam before you sit down to write it. This should be done in a quiet comfortable space on your own e.g. your bedroom or school library etc.
- Have quiet time before you enter the venue. Firstly, make sure you have all of your equipment needed to write the actual exam. Secondly, have a chance to calm yourself. I specifically mean, time to relax and accept that you will be writing. The number one thing to avoid is the noisy group of friends who are still trying to cram in concepts while entering the exam venue. Even though it may not directly be affecting you; it can add to your own anxiousness.
- Take time to breathe. Each and every one of us is equipped with a zen playlist which automatically calms us down. Your breath and heartbeat. If you can focus solely on your heart beating (check your pulse) in conjunction with your lungs taking air in, for 30 seconds to one minute; you will immediately feel more at ease. Even while you are waiting for the papers to be handed out (and even though it looks a little bit funny), close your eyes, take long deep breaths and concentrate on your heart beating.
To conclude, I would like to wish all of our students a successful and calm exam period. The work you put in personally will reflect on your final results.