Tag Archives | exam

Test Preparedness: 4 Things You Should Do Before Every Major College Exam

Image by janeb13, pixabay.com

Exams can be major sources of stress for even the best and brightest college student. Nailing an exam isn’t about being the smartest geek in class. No matter what level your natural intelligence, good preparation is usually the deciding factor in your grade. There are many things you can do ahead of time to give yourself an edge.

Give Yourself the Study Time

Time management and keeping a planned study schedule are some of the best things you can do to ease the stress of studying and increase retention. This means studying in relatively short intervals and making plenty of opportunities to study ahead. Studying in 20-30 minute sessions with short breaks in between is more beneficial than a single long cramming session. Your brain needs time to organize and connect with the information, and this is best done through short periods of intense focus followed by rest.

Avoiding long cramming sessions right before the test is an important part of this, too. The infamous all-night cram session before finals is notorious among college students. It is also one of the worst possible things you could do. It is better to space out your studying in short intervals as far in advance as possible, studying a little bit each day. You could do a few short sessions the night before the exam, but you shouldn’t have to. There are more important things to do the night before.

Don’t Forget Eating and Sleeping

Sometimes the difference in your grade comes down to things you may not even think are important, like eating and sleeping. In fact, these basic factors can have a tremendous effect on your ability to focus and remember during the test and during your study sessions.

Low carb diets may be the fad, but they aren’t good news for your study habits or academic success. One study of college students showed that a week of a diet high in protein and fat and low in carbs had decreased testing performance, compared to those who ate a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Small amounts of carbs taken at the right time may actually improve your mental performance. This is because the brain consumes a great deal of energy. This isn’t an excuse to gorge on donuts and soda, but a granola bar or similar snack can go a long way. Make sure to eat something the morning of the test and keep a healthy diet for the entire week before.

Proper sleep is also important. Your grade will benefit more from a full eight hours of sleep than from an all-nighter. Getting the proper amount of REM sleep has been linked to better memory and retention. Skipping this important step may put all your other hard studying work to waste.

Exercise the Body for the Mind

There is a strong link between physical exercise, mental health and cognitive ability. When you work out, you aren’t just improving your physical health. You are doing many things to improve your mental health as well.

Exercise improves oxygenation in the blood and circulation. This means more nutrients and oxygen are flowing to your brain and more waste material is being removed. These are excellent for cognitive function because your working brain consumes a great deal of oxygen. Exercise is also more likely to help you feel better and improve your mood and alertness.

A proper exercise routine is important, and this includes recovery after your workout, like a post-workout recovery drink. As ASEA demonstrates in their YouTube video, such drinks can benefit you by providing your body with a boost of needed nutrients and vital compounds.

Alternate Your Study Spots

One interesting way to improve your studying and boost retention is to find novel places to conduct said business. Instead of spending every afternoon for a week at the same table in the library, visit a coffee shop or park where you’ve never studied before. Research has shown a link between studying in new places or varying places and the level of retention. It’s a little mental trick you play on your brain that increases its attention to details. Sometimes small things really can give you that extra boost.

Preparation is the key to performance on any major college exam. Before your next big test, put in the time and effort to excel and skip the infamous habits that will only hurt your success.

This article was contributed by Hannah Whittenly.

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Feeling Burnt Out? 4 Study Strategies to Get You over an Academic Slump

Image by Samuel Zeller, unsplash.com

Image by Samuel Zeller, unsplash.com

Studying is hard. You have countless facts and ideas that must be memorized, then put into practice to show that you have mastered these concepts.

Students regularly “burn out” because they hit a wall when they study. They’re unable to progress because they lose the motivation to do so, which in turn leads to faltering grades and a harder time completing that often highly-priced education.

Let’s take a look at four study strategies that can help you overcome study burnout:

1. Take Breaks During the Day
Despite what seems sensible, continuing to push yourself in one direction without a break will lead to less progress than if you take proper breaks. This happens because, unlike a machine, your drive tends to wear out as you focus on one topic for a prolonged period.

To overcome this, ensure that you take regular breaks. Get up, stretch, walk around, or even take a small jog. A distraction can provide enough relaxation to give you the boost you need to avoid study burnout while efficiently learning your course material.

2. Take Care of Your Body
Your brain’s ability to think clearly is often a direct reflection of how well you maintain your body. Everything from the food you eat to the restfulness of your sleep will dictate how much energy you have to learn.

To ensure that you can study for longer periods of time and in more effective ways, you should:

• Eat well: Avoid the temptation that is fast food by opting for healthy, nutritious foods. Home-cooked meals including fish, chicken, fruits and vegetables will provide your body and mind with ample nutrients to stay strong.
• Exercise regularly: Exercise encourages blood circulation, which helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain. It also helps to release hormones that can elevate your mood.
• Sleep well: Sleep is one of the processes your body uses to repair itself. Without adequate sleep, our brains become sluggish and unable to remember even the simplest of details.

3. Cater to Your Specialty
Many students try to balance every subject required for their degree. Medical students require a broad field of study, which ranges from English courses to non-medicine sciences.

This stretching is often what accounts for the 54.4 percent of burnout in medical specialties.

One way to avoid this is to engage in a medical program that focuses on your specialty in ways that make sense. Many Master of Science in Nursing programs, for example, focus on your needs as a prospective medical professional. Additional degree requirements are structured in ways that medical students can better understand.

If you’re a medical student who feels on the edge of burnout, another tactic is to spend a single day working on your weakest subject. By focusing solely on this study, you can empower yourself to feel more confident about all your studies, which in turn can reinvigorate your ability to learn.

4. Set Realistic Goals
One of the biggest causes of study burnout is the fact that students seldom set realistic goals. They try to, for example, cram an entire textbook worth of knowledge into their heads the night before a final exam.

When you’re setting your study goals, make sure they are:

• Specific: Reading one chapter a week is a specific goal.
• Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting your goals too high. Keep your study goals realistic and attainable.
• Timed: Force your studying to stay within your time constraints. This will help you keep your progress steady without burning yourself out.

Studying is a Gradual Process
The one thing to realize about studying is that is a gradual process. You will need to continue learning and putting what you learn into use to keep it in your mind.

This is why shorter periods of study mixed with breaks will often yield better results than longer study marathons. If you keep your focus on your goal and take small steps, you will inevitably obtain your academic goals without burning out.

This article was contributed by guest author Anica Oaks.

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7 Study Hacks for Getting a Perfect Score on the Exam

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

If you have a big test coming up, there is a strong chance that you are pulling all-nighters, eating unhealthy study snacks, and feeling completely anxious. You may even be found running all across campus searching for study groups or cramming all of the information you learned in class into your head. Most likely you are overwhelmed with other assignments like homework and projects.

Taking a test always promotes anxiety in students. It is completely normal to feel the pressure during a time like this. You want to do well in order to progress to the career of your dreams. However, you do not have to be one of few that crumbles under the pressure. Here are 7 proven ways to get the perfect score on any exam. Are you ready? Here it goes:

1. Power Off
The biggest mistake many students make is keeping their electronic devices on while studying. This is highly ineffective. Every time your ringtone goes off or you receive a text message, you will be distracted. For this reason, it is important that you shut off all devices — and yes that means your phone, tablet, television, and laptop. Make sure to turn everything off so that you can get the concentration that is needed to study effectively. You may be tempted to check your social media feeds or watch a YouTube video after, however studies have shown that these stimuli only keep the brain awake, therefore leading to sleepy mornings. Tell your friends that you are studying. Any great messages, Facebook status updates, or Instagram pictures can wait for another time.

2. Eat Right
The days leading up to your exam could easily cause you to slip into bad ways. The stress of studying provokes emotional eating in some while it also serves as a distraction. If you find yourself practicing any of those habits, it is essential that you replace the donuts and pizza for water, fruits, and vegetables. By now you may be thinking “Ugh, who eats that?” but these foods actually do more than just gross you out. Water replenishes you and keeps your body hydrated. According to studies, this will not only cool you down, but will also promote excellent cognitive function and physical energy. In addition to this, fruits like apples and blueberries have been found to have toxin reducing agents that maintain your memory levels. So instead of grabbing that energy drink and extra cup of coffee, try good old fashioned fruits and veggies. They never disappoint.

3. Create Mental Associations
If you are studying a complex subject that includes large amounts of abbreviated terms, try breaking the letters down into acronyms. Connect the bridge between what you know and what you learn. Place fun catchy names on difficult phrases. If you find that an important term is not relatable, get creative and think of something. For example, if you are studying the word ‘blanco’ in Spanish, think of the color of a blank sheet of paper. This method is highly effective and wins every time. Try this for any and every subject.

4. Try Whiteboards
Everyone learns differently from others. While some individuals thrive in lecture class settings, others may do better academically in museums. There are numerous learning styles that allow each person to learn effectively. For those who are visual, whiteboards are an excellent tool to use. Instead of staring at textbooks filled with words, get an erasable marker and draw the words that you are studying. For example, if you are studying math, you may find it easier if you drew figures. If you are studying a complex piece of literature, try writing out the different names and terms that call for attention. You can even get creative and use different colored markers. This is excellent for those who think in pictures.

5. Laugh!
You might find this tip quite silly but it proves effective for the most stressed students. Sure we know that exams are serious and that your future is on the line. However, you should never allow tests to cause burn out. In fact, it is proven that laughter releases built-up tension. There are so many high emotions that revolve around midterms and finals. Consider how you can find balance in the midst of a stressful test period. Most of all, relax. You will do great.

Taking an exam does not have to have you stressed to the max. Consider studying the right way by powering off, nourishing your body the right way, creating mental associations with difficult terms, using whiteboards to boost memory, and do not forget to laugh. Before you pick up that donut, try these tried and true methods the next time you have an exam.

This article was contributed by guest author Sophia Clark.

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The Infamous Exam Anxiety

Image by Walt Stoneburner, Flickr

Image by Walt Stoneburner, Flickr

You are either a regular or an occasional victim. Either way, that uncomfortable jittery feeling is not foreign to any one of us. I am by nature a quite nervous individual and exam time for me is, well…I’ll let you visualize that on your own. In brief, we can conclude that “cool, calm, and collected” are non-existent words in my dictionary come exam time.

With that being said, below are a few tips I would like to share. They are for fellow students who generally feel nervous no matter how much they’ve studied. Their anxiety does not depend upon how well-prepared they are for the exam; just the idea of an exam is enough to cause stress. I have become a champion of this feeling; all I need is to show up in the exam room and it’s as if a “nerves” switch has been turned on.

These tips have been life savers for me when managing my exam anxiety, and in my experience, have resulted in better grades. They have really given me a confidence boost, and a corresponding significant drop in my anxiety levels.

Talking to Myself

A method which I have found to be extremely useful is what I call the “talking to myself” method. We all know anxiety is a mental state, so this is what I tell myself to bring my thoughts back down to earth:

  • What is the point of feeling anxious? The only thing that it will cause is a bad grade. Is that my goal?
  • If I don’t take this exam, I’ll get a zero, and I won’t be able to get my grade back. Any mark is better than a zero.
  • I have studied the material and am ready for this exam and will receive a good grade as payoff for my time spent studying.

For those feeling nervous due to lack of studying (which shouldn’t happen!):

  • I don’t know how I’m going to do on this exam, but I have an hour (or several hours), and I’m only going to hurt my grade more if I feel anxious because I didn’t study enough. I should use this time to soak in all the content I can.
  • If I feel good about the exam, I will end up doing well on the exam.
  • This is just one exam, there is no need panic. If I don’t do well here, I will make sure to do well on my upcoming exams by studying more.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I cannot stress how important and beneficial it is to review and revise your study notes more than once. Every time I enter an exam after only reviewing study notes once, that unwanted friend of mine shows up right behind me: anxiety. He makes me feel like I don’t understand many (or any!) of the questions on the exam. Let’s just say those exams are never exactly what you would call “flawless” – and it shows in those marks.

I’ve found that whenever I make a proper routine of studying, with enough time to go over the material three times (even twice can be fine depending on your understanding of the material), I have managed to receive grades that I’m happy with.

Internalize the Content

I’ve been practicing this method recently. I wrote my exams with a lot of confidence due to the fact that not only did I memorize the material, I understood the concepts. This really helps with critical thinking questions. When you develop a concrete understanding of the content, you’re able to answer questions with knowledge – and knowledge means confidence.

Many students who attempt to merely memorize the material usually end up with bad grades because they miss something in their answers or do not answer the question properly because they didn’t understand it.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re studying. They have helped me with my anxiety – I hope they can help you with yours!