Study hacks to ace your exams

November 25, 2017

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

With exams around the corner for most of you, getting a big chunk of your syllabus into your head is not an easy task. Though you have faced exams so many times, learning and revising all you have been taught remains a herculean task that doesn’t get easy.

The main thing that will make life easy for you is to set a timetable and study well without wasting too much time, especially on gadgets. Social media and its posts will still be there when your exams are over.

Besides serious studying, there are some hacks that make studying and learning more of a doable task than what most of us consider it to be. Let’s check out what they are.

Get loud

Read aloud whatever you are studying or practicing. By actually speaking the words loudly, you hear the words too and this helps you in remembering the study material more. Maybe using more of your senses is the key to better retention.

So you can either study yourself or team up with others and read aloud in turns.

Switch your study space

Experts suggest that by changing the places you study in can lead to improved learning. At a new place, around the house of course, your brain reforms memories every time — and this makes you more likely to retain the new material. But of course you need to be mindful that the place is free of distractions.

Teach what you have learnt

Teaching what you have learnt is the best way to reinforce the learning and it will also let you know if there are any weak areas that you need to study further. If you can’t express well to someone what you have learnt so far, it means you haven’t learnt your lesson well.

If you can’t team up with friends, you can ask your siblings and parents, or just place some stuff toys and get teaching!

Make mind maps and create mental associations

Learning in a creative way is easier and faster, so get creative by making mind maps and linking information through association with different things.

In mind mapping, you are creating a visual overview of the information you are learning by linking them up in different ways. For instance, you have to learn about an event in Pakistan Studies, write the event in the centre in one colour, and then have arrows pointing outwards with the date on top, the outcome at the bottom, the important personalities on the sides, etc.

And use pens and highlighters of different colours for everything and you will have an attractive visual depiction of an otherwise boring textual matter, and this will be easier for you to learn and recall.

In the same way, if you practice drawing diagrams in science as you learn alongside, you will find it easier to understand and remember the information that all seem the same on a page in text form. This will also help you learn the diagram as you may be asked to draw it in the exam. This is also useful in subjects such as geography.

Use Google

Take the help of an adult and use the internet to find out and learn more about the topic you are learning. In addition there are many educational sites with video lectures for all grades that are very helpful too.

Many teachers/educators and students have blogs where they have shared the questions and explanations of various topics and you will actually be surprised to see how much wealth of learning material is available online.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Study in a group

In a team, everyone benefits from the strengths of each member and individual weaknesses are also overcome through help from others. You will also find that what you are unable to understand has been better understood by someone else and they can teach you what you don’t know.

In addition, group discussions are done loudly so you are more likely to retain what you hear than when you are reading it silently in a corner of your room.

Give your notes a makeover

When you sit down to learn and revise, using your notes and textbooks, also have a bunch of coloured pens, pencils and highlighters handy. As you read along, use the coloured pens to write side notes, underline, highlight and draw markings such as stars, check or tick marks, etc, on important things to take note of and remember.

This is easier and takes up less time than making a summary of your notes again — though you can do this if it helps you more.

Use the pen

As you will be writing with the pen, or pencil, in exams, use them while learning too.

This is to say that write what you have learnt, pra­ctice by writing down answers and solving questions, or simply write along as you learn. Studies show that we tend to remember those things more which we have written before.

Reward yourself

We feel good when we are appreciated and rewarded for any effort that we make, so studying is no exception. When a chapter or topic is learnt and finished, it calls for a celebration so give yourself a treat – yes you can also give yourself a treat or little present, why wait for someone else?

And by treat I don’t mean something very expensive, your favourite chocolates or cookies will do just fine for this. Have a nice little break as your enjoy the chocolate and get recharged to get back to studying with new zeal. Or you can treat yourself by playing your favourite game for 15 minutes or watching your favourite programme.

Take a walk

Exercise has been recommended by experts for boosting memory and brain power. So a little exercise before sitting down to study will get your brain and body working in overdrive and that’s also what doctors recommend before an exam to improve performance.

If you are feeling physically active and alert, like you do after some light physical exercise or walk, your mind too will be alert and fully charged to give a good performance.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 25th, 2017