So, it’s that time of year again where cramming, late nights, and contempt for the system is common. However, here are some tips to help you study for the exams whether you’re in O Levels, A Levels, Matriculation, or IB, or anything of the sort.
When you have long articles or notes to read, it is always a good idea to past a sticky note on the first page and write down the important points. If during the reading you find something that deserves specially attention, put that on a separate sticky note. Remember to limit everything to point-form: you aren’t writing a commentary on what you have just read. When the final time comes, and your memory is a little rusty, going over the sticky notes will help you recall significant amounts of information.
This isn’t necessary, however, it is what distinguishes an A grade exam from a B grade one. If you can and it applies to you, try remembering the surname of the author on whose work you will be commenting, or drawing upon. This is true for both Economics (Karl Marx, for example) and Literature (Shakespeare, for example).
Cross-referencing and Synthesizing
A lot of the times, ideas and information will overlap. Examiners are looking not for your ability to recall information and regurgitating it, they are looking for someone who stands out who sets the bar for the percentiles. When there is a certain name or idea mentioned in your readings which are not explained clearly, click to Google’s homepage and type in that name or terminology. Chances are, this will help you understand the information better since it will give you a context to work with. Also, when you are writing your paper and it applies, cross-reference between different pieces of works and authors and how they relate or how one’s idea leads to the other’s notions.
You need not cram. You should not cram. Spread your work evenly through the weeks that you have left, leading up to the examination day. This means you may take many breaks, often to do things your parents will consider a “waste of time.” I got through a year of courses (including external readings and information) in a week for my exams, and fared well. An information overload is like vomitting. You eat too much, you’ll vomit. Just like it takes time to increase your appetite, it takes time to train your mind to retain more information. Work in pieces, but do not procrastinate. Set a clear goal for the amount of work you plan on doing that day: do not try to boil the ocean, just a cup.
Last Minute Studying
I walked into my final exam of a 3rd year university course with a bagel and orange juice in my hand, enjoying the taste while others were still cramming outside in the hall way. When we sat down, everyone seemed tense. Whatever you’ve done 24 hours before your exam, it is highly likely that it will be the only thing you recall. The last minute studying puts stress not only on your mental faculties, but your physical ones as well. And lets face it: there’s nothing more that you can do at this point. If you go in the exam calm, you will recall information much more quickly and precisely. That is not to say, be over confident. Be humble, but believe in yourself and the Lord. If you need to, go over your sticky notes one last time, but before leaving home.
This is perhaps the most important point: if you go to the exam with an empty stomach, it’s not going to be a pretty site. Your brain will also not get enough minerals, glucose, and nutrients to get the juices flowing [sic].
Take Advantage of Your Teachers
Your teachers are there for you. Over time, you have built some sort of a relationship with your instructors: do not let that go to waste. Call them, email them, show up at their doorstep (if that is okay with them) and remove all doubts about the stuff you have studied.
And on that note, good luck to all of you.