10 tips to successfully get through the exam period!
1. Draw up a schedule and stick to it. Don't schedule anything the day before your exam but finish then what you couldn't study before and repeat everything. Also provide a daily to do list. What subject are you going to study today? Which chapters? Which pages? You can find more information on how to draw up an study schedule here.
2. Find a pleasant place to study. Enough space, fresh air, a lot of light, tidy. Agree with your house mates on when you can be disturbed and when you can take a break together.
3. Keep a structured and balanced daily schedule. Start and stop at the same time and try to take a short break every 50 minutes (e.g. walk up and down the stairs, fetch a glass of water, open a window, etc.) and a longer break every 3 hours (to eat, exercise, call friends, etc.). Go outside every now and then and move. You will find that your concentration level instantly increases.
4. Put distractions (e.g. smartphone, tablet) away so you cannot see them (e.g. in another room). Deactivate notifications so that you are not tempted to look at your device systematically. Don't try to multitask, it's distracting.
5. Study actively. This means: use pen and paper. Write down key words and draw up schemes, test yourself and write down bulleted lists you need to know by heart in short, etc. This can be a draft, it only serves yourself to ensure that you do not fall into the passive reading and rereading of texts.
6. Answer example exam questions and think of good exam questions yourself. You can exchange them with fellow students to check if you both master the subject matter.
7. After studying part of the subject matter, (video) call a fellow student and explain what you have studied. Give examples if possible. This is a very effective study strategy and you also have social contact.
8. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This appears to be one of the most effective study strategies worldwide.
9. Are you running out of time? Select the most important parts of the subject matter and study them. Don't 'pull an all-nighter', especially not the night before your exam. During your sleep, the subject matter you memorised during the day, is stored in your long-term memory. Don't you get enough sleep? Then it is likely that you will have forgotten part of the subject matter.
10. Have enough to eat and to drink on the day of your exam. Stop looking in your courses after arriving on campus. Stay calm, read through all the questions and first answer the questions you know or feel reasonably sure about.
Good luck with your exams!
Frequently asked questions
- I am unable to focus on my work. What should I do?
If you've been sitting at your desk for more than 3 hours, take a long break of at least half an hour. Go outside, drink some water and eat something healthy. Then try again. Unable to focus on a particular subject? Put it away for a while and study another subject. Find out at what time of the day you are most concentrated and plan the difficult course at that particular time. Are you unable to concentrate due to your mobile phone, laptop or tablet? Put those in another room or install a (temporary) website blocker (eg. 'Cold Turkey', 'FocalFilter' of 'KeepMeOut'). Give the app 'Forest' a try as well. You can also turn off your notifications or shut down your device completely. Don't try to multitask, it's distracting.
- Is 'pulling an all-nighter' a good idea?
No, and certainly not the night before your exam. During your sleep, the subject matter you memorised during the day, is stored in your long-term memory. Don't you get enough sleep?
Then it is likely that you will have forgotten part of the subject matter. Furthermore, this causes retroactive malfunctions: your knowledge of previously studied subject matter disappears into the background and will be insufficiently at hand during the exam. The last part of the subject matter studied is well known but the other parts are more difficult to retrieve.
- Can I study several different courses in one day?
You can certainly do this, for example if you notice that you are no longer concentrated or motivated. Make sure you have finished a meaningful part of subject matter before starting another part. So don't stop in the middle of a chapter.
- Should I study using the computer or pen and paper?
This depends on the individual student and personal preferences. Research has shown that you remember fewer details when studying from a screen. So if you're studying using the computer, be sure to take plenty of time to study in depth and in detail. In fact, to remember the subject matter well, writing works better than typing.
- Where should I study?
It is best to study in a quiet room where there is natural light. Also make sure you have enough space to open en spread out your books, courses and papers. Always start with a tidy and neat desk with no distractions. Put them away so you can't see them.
- How many hours a day should I study?
In a non-examination period, we suggest the 40-hour working week. You would then have to spend about 40 hours a week on your studies, if you enrolled for a full-time study track. During the exams this can be more of course, especially if you systematically studied less than 40 hours during the year. So be honest with yourself. Well-prepared at the start of the examination period? Then studying 8 hours a day will probably be sufficient. Do you need to process certain subject matter for the first time? Then you'll easily spend 10 to 12 hours studying a day.
- Can I turn on music while studying?
Yes, but choose the music wisely. Even if you think that the music does not distract you, research has shown that voices automatically call for a part of your attention. Music in which there is no singing, e.g. classical music or instrumental music, therefore cause much less (or no) distraction. A piano nocturne by Chopin? Or perhaps some Mozart brainpower?