What to do (and what not to do) to prep for exams

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It’s normal to feel scared about exams, but there’s no need to feel powerless

It’s easy to feel lost during exam season. If you find yourself riddled with nerves and unable to focus, know that you aren’t alone. Huge numbers of students get completely stressed out at the thought of completing their exams, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to avoid it.

When it comes to studying for your exams, there are things you should do and things you shouldn’t do. By finding your best practice for revision, you’ll feel more prepared and more confident when you walk into that exam hall.

What not to do

If you can spend an evening revising and still feel like you haven’t learnt anything, chances are you’re not studying in the best way. Try to avoid these common exam prep mistakes in the future.

Read your textbooks cover to cover

You might think that reading your textbooks like a novel will help you learn absolutely everything you need to know, but actually by doing this you’re just putting extra pressure on yourself. Staying focused while reading a whole textbook is an almost impossible task, so instead try picking out the key points.

Copy out from textbooks

Similarly, you should also try to avoid simply copying out reems of text word for word from your textbooks. This may feel productive, but you’re unlikely to actually be thinking about what you’re writing. Instead, read it through and then try to write it out again in your own words.

Revise for hours at a time

This may sound strange, but you should try to avoid revising for hours at a time where possible. The reason for this is simply that your brain can’t possibly stay focused for that length of time, so what you’re learning at the end of your session is unlikely to stick. Instead, arrange your revision in one or two hour slots with plenty of short breaks.

Do an all-nighter before your exam

Cramming may be tempting, but a good night’s sleep is more important. You should be aiming to know your content well enough long before your last night before the exam. Instead, use this time to review your notes, then do something relaxing and go to bed nice and early.

What to do

So if these factors are a no-no, then what should you be doing when it comes to revision? By incorporating these habits into your revision technique, you’ll find yourself feeling much more prepared for your exams.

Use flashcards

Flashcards are a great way to revise because it forces you to summarize the stuff you’re trying to learn, and this requires you to think about the content and write it down in your own words. It’s also much less daunting to read through flashcards every day than pages and pages of notes.

Use apps to help you

Your smartphone is more than just a distraction. There are plenty of study-friendly apps out there to help you revise in an effective way, so get downloading and start using your screen time effectively.

Discover your learning style

Some people are visual learners and benefit from charts and graphs. Others are auditory learners and need to read aloud or listen to podcasts to help them study. Some are linguistic learners who need to write things down in order to retain the information. Once you discover your learning style, you’ll find revising much more effective.

Get support from Immerse Education

Use your summer wisely with a two-week Cambridge summer school programme from the likes of Immerse Education . This is a truly unique way to prepare for your exams, giving you the chance to study a subject in-depth while also experiencing incredible surroundings and the company of like-minded new friends.