Evidence-based exam preparation tips – set yourself up for exam success

It’s almost exam time. If you’re sitting exams this semester, the coming weeks will be busy studying and preparing. Here are six evidence-based study tips you can use to help you prepare for exams.

Practice self-care.
With time pressures of University, family, friends and other responsibilities, it can be easy to neglect our health and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, this can impact our ability to study effectively. You can improve your health and mental wellbeing, by practising self-care. Try to get regular sleep, maintain a healthy diet and do some physical activity each day – even a short walk can have significant benefits.

Maintain a positive attitude.
Your attitude is the sum total of your beliefs. If you believe your abilities are fixed, that confusion and setbacks are unbearable, and that everything you do must be perfect, you may find yourself avoiding study. It’s important to remember that confusion and setbacks are a normal, and useful, part of learning. Also, no one’s perfect. If you acknowledge that, your attitude towards study will be much more realistic and helpful.

Get organised!
Write yourself a to do list and study schedule and stick to it. This is especially important if you have a lot of people or things demanding your time (e.g. family, work, and other responsibilities). Remember that a full-time degree equals full-time work. You should be doing the equivalent of 7.5 hours of study per day (including lectures and tutorials). This can be a shock to the system, especially if you’re new to University, so organising your time can make a big difference.

Set up a nice and efficient study space.
The environment in which we exist has a powerful impact on our mood and behaviour. For example, we know that even just five minutes in nature can reduce a person’s stress levels. Your study space will influence how you study, so take the time to set it up in a way that is comfortable, functional and free of distractions. Click here for tips on setting up an effective study space.

Set goals.
You need to have something that you are working towards. Goals come in all shapes and sizes. Set yourself some big overarching goals (e.g. I want to get a Credit average for all my topics this semester). Also set practical short-term goals (e.g. I will study for at least three hours every day).

Each day visualise the end of the semester and having done well. Also visualise the day ahead and having a productive day of study. Counteract doubts and self-criticism by imagining yourself as a successful student, coping with the workload and study complexity. Just visualising something doesn’t magically make it happen, although it does focus your brain on the desired outcomes and the steps needed to get there.

Hopefully these tips help you in your exam preparation, and in your studies overall.

If you are struggling to cope with academic and personal pressures, the University offers a free confidential counselling service between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). To make an appointment visit the counselling webpage.

Outside of these hours (weekdays 5pm to 9am and 24 hours on weekends/public holidays), the University offers a free confidential crisis support line. To use the service call 1300 512 409 or text 0488 884 103.

These evidence-based tips have been collated, courtesy of the Flinders Health, Counselling and Disability Service (HCDS). If you are interested in reading other similar content visit the Student Health and Wellbeing blog.

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