Studying for an exam can be stressful and all‐consuming but there are ways to prepare and cope with the extra demands being placed on you. Some ways to approach exams in the week prior include:
- Organise your time – It’s a good idea to create a weekly timetable for yourself, firstly putting in everything you need to do: meals, work, sleep, grocery shopping etc. and then allocating time for revision. Ensure you also allow yourself time for relaxation, recreation, socialising and rest. Everyone studies differently, and concentration and attention spans vary, so find out which routine suits you best: early in the morning or in the afternoon, in short bursts or for longer periods etc.
- Organise your space – In addition to organising your time, you need to organise your study space. If possible, avoid working in a place that you would normally relax such as the lounge or bedroom. Clear away clutter and distractions, and create a specialised work place that’s comfortable and has sufficient air flow. Become used to working in this dedicated space and ‘switching off’ when you leave it.
- Take regular breaks – You might think that studying for hours on end is helpful but this can actually be counterproductive. In fact, research shows that taking regular breaks is important for the long‐term retention of information.1 Have a glass of water or a snack, go for a walk around the block to clear your mind, or have a chat to a friend on the phone.
- Explain your answers to others – Practicing out aloud can sometimes help you to memorise an answer, check your understanding of a topic and highlight any shortfalls in your knowledge.
- Exercise – Exercise is not only a great stress‐reliever but it can also increase blood flow to the brain, bringing much‐needed oxygen and nutrients.
- Eat ‘brain’ food – No one can think straight on too much coffee and chocolate. Have eggs or a smoothie for breakfast, snack on fruit through the day, eat quality protein and vegetables for lunch and dinner, and ensure you drink at least 2L of water daily. Try to include fish a few times a week as it’s a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which support brain health and function.
- Have enough sleep – Pulling an all‐nighter or revising under the doona is not going to do you any favours. Your body and mind need time to process all the information you’re taking in and to re‐energise so it’s ready for the big day. Try to switch off at least an hour before you intend to go to sleep by listening to music, doing gentle stretches or having a bath.
- Consider a study support supplement – There are natural remedies available that may help you focus and minimise the effects of study stress. CereboostTM may help improve working memory, brahmi may assist with the retention of new information and B vitamins may support your energy needs.