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October 4, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Studying for exams

You should have started this, but telling you won’t help anything. I firmly believe that people either study, or they don’t, and unless you are superhuman you can’t really overcome your initial reaction of “I’ll get to it later” or “the first 3/10ths of the exam are highlighted in pink in all five textbooks”. But I do have a few quick potential life savers for those in the “I have half an hour now and will not be bothered ever again, so better make it last” category. Every time you think of exams, take five minutes to do one of the following..

On the internet? Your biggest problem is a five second attention span.

How about:

  • Open Blackboard and find slideshows from classes.

Now watch the slideshows in fullscreen mode, so you’re less likely to click back onto Facebook. If you’re feeling enthusiastic, click out of fullscreen mode every time you come across a term or idea that you don’t understand, and go through your notes to find more info. Can’t be bothered? Google or Wikipedia the terms. Then go back into the slideshow. This will bring to mind a whole lot of information, on a very low quality basis, unless you know all terms already, in which case you may not need to study them in depth anyway.

  • Wikipedia-surf. Look up one person important to your studies, and every time you come across an unknown term or idea used by them, check out its related page, and so on. This keeps interest for a surprisingly long amount of time as your screen keeps changing.
  • Chat with someone from your class on Facebook.
  • Open up the document listing any essay topics, and write paragraph-long answers. You can even blatantly copy paste entire sections from other documents/notes—it’s all being re-read, which is the important bit.
  • Write your lecturer/tutor an email asking about something you really don’t understand. They HAVE to reply, so they are a great resource—use them.

At home or at the library?

Here your biggest problems are distractions. You suddenly need food, drink, friends etc. Fulfil as many possible issues as possible first—go to Unistop or the kitchen before even sitting down.

How about:

  • Pull up as many relevant books as you can, find a possy, and flick through them.
  • Organise your notes.
  • Flash cards, unless you’re learning a language, take more time to set up than actually use. I’d recommend either lists or just not bothering. Coloured paper is fun too.
  • Reading over essay questions and answering (out loud, if you can—helps with memory retention).
  • Practice writing and sitting still! Copy out notes, answer textbook questions… Get used to sitting, writing, for long periods. Start with five minutes, then add five minutes each time, until you can make 45 minutes without finding an excuse to get up.

On the bus?

Read a book! Always carry one with you. A ten minute bus ride twice a day adds up fast. Like you have anything better to do on it.

Good luck!

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