Showing posts with label health and wellbeing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health and wellbeing. Show all posts

17 May 2016

Getting ready for exams

With the end of the semester just around the corner, now is the time to focus on your preparation for exams (if you haven’t already!). Here are some tips to help you make the most of your study time and feel more confident heading into exams, says Learning Skills Adviser, Emma Price.

Managing your time 

‘Night before’ cramming rarely delivers good results on the day. Start by planning your schedule with specific days and times to revise your units. Use a weekly planner on paper or an app to mark out your classes and other commitments, then assign times around these when you will study. Try to get a good spread across the week and make this a regular part of your planning. Each study session should have a clear goal of what unit and topic will be revised. You may also find it useful to spend a small amount of time initially getting all of your unit materials organised so it is easier to use them for revision (more tips on different styles below). 

One of your biggest enemies in exam preparation is procrastination. By setting goals within your week you can more easily accomplish your revision rather than having a vague sense of revising all of your units. Be wary of time-eating technology too. TV, social media, smartphones and other devices may all seem much more attractive than study. Even cleaning your bathroom might have more appeal! But make sure to stay on target. Switch off any devices during your study times to avoid distraction and then use them as short rewards for when you have completed your study sessions. Prioritise your other commitments around your study too - if your bathroom really is in dire need of a clean, it can still wait till you’ve spent some time on revision!

Mix it up

Aim to be active in your revision approach. This means doing more than just reading over your notes or textbook. A good approach is creating your own topic summaries from your lectures, notes and readings. This way you synthesise and compile each topic into its main points and examples for a more effective study resource, and the very process of creating a summary is helping you understand and remember the topic.

There are a range of different study styles you can use to be more effective in your study time and to help you remember information. Everyone has their own learning style preference so work to your strengths. Do you prefer hearing information, talking about it, or a more hands-on practical approach? Perhaps you are a more visual learner and prefer diagrams and mindmaps? Use any or all of these styles to help create useful revision materials, such as:

  • Posters of main topic information - either note form or diagram. Post them up where you will see them often (next to the bathroom mirror, over your desk, etc.) Go over them regularly and then test yourself.
  • Record yourself talking about a topic on your smartphone and then listen back to it on the train or walking.
  • Use mnemonics as a memory aid to associate important information with particular cues. You can use songs, images or names. For example, for order of taxonomy: Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species)
  • Form a study group. Talking through unit topics with your peers can be a great way to expand your knowledge, work through trickier ideas together, and revise what you already know. The very process of discussing with others is another way to help your brain retain information, as well as giving you some friendly support during the exam period. 

Test yourself often. As well as any sample exam questions provided by your unit, you can also create your own tests by turning your unit topics into questions. For example, in a business management topic on effective practice, change the topic heading into a question: what are three effective management practices and how are they implemented? You might want to try simulating exam conditions by getting rid of all distractions, putting away your notes and assigning a set amount of time to answer some questions on your topics.

Look after yourself 

As exams get nearer it’s natural to feel a bit stressed and obsessed with revision. But you need to stay balanced in order to get to the finish line. Some stress is ok as it can keep you motivated and focused but too much or poorly managed stress can have negative effects. If you feel over-stressed or anxious in your exam preparation then you might want to reflect on your study approach and perhaps seek out some help from counselling.

Make sure to eat well and get enough sleep. Too much junk food and caffeine or all night cramming could impact your ability to study effectively through too much fatigue or adrenaline.

Your brain can’t handle study all the time so be sure to give it some breaks for rest. This could be five minutes or so at end of each hour of study to make a snack, get some fresh air or do some stretches. Regular walking or jogging, or something like a weekly gym session or yoga class can provide an important break from your revision and can help regulate any exam stress. And remember to schedule a bit of time with family and friends where you (and your brain) can relax.

Above all, remember that effective study is about how much you learn, not how much time you spend hunched over your desk. So keep these tips in mind, and good luck!

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27 July 2015

How to stay the course

Our Monash student contributor Sara Nyhuis shares her honest views about uni life and some tips on how to find the balance, stay motivated and keep the end in sight. It's a good read for returning students at the start of a new semester.

There’s a very strong sense of complete and utter panic upon opening Allocate to check your results when they are released. If any of you do what I do and check your results by looking through your fingers, then you’ll know that finding out how you did in each of your units is one of the most daunting things about university.
There are lots of university memes out there, likening it to riding a bicycle (in hell) or the ‘due tomorrow do tomorrow’ routine - but I’ve always imagined it like a rollercoaster. The ride up is very long and very slow, but reaching the top provides the biggest breath of fresh air you could hope for, and the most amazing view. Of course, it sends you back down again and you’ll probably want to let go - because, well, it’s a rollercoaster. You take the highs with the lows, you keep up your ‘This semester is going to be different!’  mantra every time you start climbing again (fight the week 4 lull, fight it!), and try not to panic on the way back down.
My point is - it’s hard, it’s slow, and it’s long. Sometimes you have no idea what made you get in the damn cart in the first place and you have no idea where you’re going - and then other times it’s the most exhilarating and rewarding experience you could ever have. But it’s hard to find the balance between the two, and to keep sight of the end.
Set yourself some goals

One of the most effective ways to get through the grind of daily uni life is to set yourself smaller goals when the end of the line seems too far away to be realistic. ‘Baby steps’ is probably one of my most used phrases throughout semester; in a good week I congratulate myself on finishing an assignment early; in a not so good week I’ll probably congratulate myself on just turning up to class.

Regardless of how big or small your goal is, giving yourself something to work towards keeps up the sense of achievement to motivate you to get to the next goal.

If setting goals seems a little arbitrary to you, try scouting around for some volunteering opportunities to keep you motivated. Be an O Week tour guide, a student mentor, take a PASS program, even just sign up to a weekly online magazine related to your studies to keep you in the know and keep your brain active and interested.

Find the balance

If you’re like me and manage bizarre hours between work shifts and socialising, you’ll understand how difficult it is to fit time in for study or for yourself. I can’t stop you from procrastibaking, watching Netflix until it makes sassy remarks about your social life, or from napping in lieu of studying - but I can advise you that if you maintain a healthy social life, studying becomes much easier (and Netflix won’t judge you). By allowing yourself one or two nights a week to let go and forget about whichever essay you’re writing, you burn out a lot of restless energy that usually leads to dedicated procrastination. It also makes you more relaxed at work, because you know that you’re actually productive in your study time.

The balance is hard and it can take a while to figure it out, but you get better at it (trust me) and it honestly pays off.

Also, you can totally put time management skills on your resume afterwards.

Keep it up

One of the hardest things to do as the semester wears on is keep up with your studies. I don’t just mean assignments here either, but also keeping up to date with your reading list and your lectures. If you’re anything like me you struggle to pay attention to lectures by about week 4 - and that’s where setting yourself goals comes in handy. I usually dedicate one day to catching up on whatever lectures I’ve missed, and then reward myself with the rest of the day to do whatever I please - and 60% of the time, it works every time.

If you have any advice of your own, any thoughts on techniques or questions about staying motivated, share them in the comments below and help your fellow students out. In saying all that, I wish you luck. Keep up the mantra, set yourself some goals and keep holding on til the end of the ride, guys.

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