10 tricks to get top exam marks

You may have made it through high school with a pretty loose studying strategy in place, but hitting the books at tertiary level requires much more commitment … and a much tighter strategy too.

“Preparing for the exam season is not only about putting in the study hours, its making sure you are well during an often stressful and overwhelming time,” says Craig McMurray, South Africa’s leading provider of student accommodation.

Adopt the 50/10 approach

Looking at that pile of books you need to work through for just one subject is a pretty daunting thing – but if you plan to work through it in focused 50 minute chunks, broken up with 10 minute breaks, the task doesn’t seem quite so intimidating.

Take technology in hand

If you’re using a computer to study, the temptation will be strong to check social media or disappear down the rabbit hole that started with legitimate studying content – so choose one of the many apps out there to block your access to social media sites, messaging apps and other digital distractions.

Organise your study space

Make sure that you’ve got a dedicated study space, whether it’s at home or in your room at your res. And, however bored you get with your desk, don’t be tempted to try study in bed or on that comfy couch – you’re likely to get distracted or even fall asleep.

Mad about music?

Studying with background music can help, but make sure you choose the right tunes! Ambient, instrumental or classical music should be on your playlist, and if you set up a 50-minute playlist, it will be your cue to take that well-earned break.

Get a study buddy

One of the great advantages of living in a res is that you can get together with friends to study. The other person doesn’t need to be doing the same course as you, but a study buddy is a lot like a gym buddy: they keep you honest, they help you relaxed during study breaks, and they help you avoid feeling alone while you’re learning.

Take turns teaching

You could also find someone doing the same course as you are, and split the study material, promising to teach it to one another. That way, you have to know enough about the subject to share it properly – or you’re getting the benefits of your own personal tutor.

Divide and conquer

If you’ve got a bunch of facts to learn, try come up with mnemonics to help you remember them all. If it’s concepts you’re working with, make sure you understand them properly before moving on – as this understanding sticks with you more than a list of facts will.

Close the books

Don’t just study by reading and re-reading the content you’ve got to cover, and asking yourself questions while your text books are open. Learn your work, close the books, and go over what you’ve studied in your mind or by writing it out. Work through old exams if you can get them, to test your knowledge properly.

Stay healthy

If you’re going to stay on top your study game, make sure you take care of your health and well-being too. Make sure you make time to eat properly – it’s also a great way to take a break from your studies. Drink lots of water, and stay away from alcohol during the study season – obviously you want to avoid hangovers, but there’s nothing fun about dehydration either.

Ease in the exercise

If you’ve got a good training regime going, keep it up to de-stress and take a break.  If you’re not a gym bunny (and that’s ok!), take a walk or go for a swim to get take a break from your studies and dust out a few mental cobwebs.

Whether you’re in res, flat sharing or at home, creating a study space and allowing enough time to prepare for the exam season is crucial to your success. Look for accommodation providers, like Respublica, that provide quiet, private spaces or study rooms for study groups, access to WiFi and recreation rooms for taking those as important study breaks.

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