Year 12 exams are coming up and it’s time to get revising.
It probably seems like a completely overwhelming chore, and you’re doing everything you can to put it off.
Well don’t – if you haven’t already started, then it’s time to get organised.
We’re all different and have different ways of studying:
- Are you a visual learner who needs to pictures, images, graphs and diagrams?
- Are you auditory and need to record your notes and listen to them over and over?
- Or as you a verbal learner and do your best when you read material?
Whichever way you learn best, work out what it is, come up with a schedule, then most importantly of all – stick to it.
We’ve written up a list of study tips to help you get started.
1. Find your rhythm
Yep, that’s right, find your best way of doing things and stick to it.
Routine, whether you love or hate that word, when it comes to revision time, starting a routine and sticking with it, is your best bet for getting the most out of your study sessions without wearing yourself out.
If it’s half an hour when you get home from school and then some exercise, followed by another hour and a half in the evening, then do it. If it’s getting up at 5.30am and studying for 2 hours, then do it.
Just make a routine out of it so that your body (and your mind) gets used to it, rather than studying randomly.
We all think that we’re secretly multi-tasking gurus and that a smartphone, tablet, laptop, music and social media going all at once makes us ‘awesome’.
But in reality, it doesn’t. Countless university studies show that we’re far less effective when we’re doing more than one thing at a time. So turn off social, put your phone in a drawer and focus.
You don’t have to focus for long periods, like everyone else our concentration levels are all different. So you could study hard for 30 minutes & do something else for 10 – check your phone, listen to some music, get some exercise or have a drink & a snack. Then sit back down and focus for another 30 minutes.
If you’re easily distracted and “forget” to get back to studying you could always set alarms to keep you on track.
If you can study for longer in one period then great, go for it. Find what works for you and helps you focus.
3. Get familiar with the syllabus
Think that sounds like a yawn fest? Well the secrets to getting good marks are all right there.
If you understand the syllabus and the expectations for each subject, then it’s a lot easier for you to focus on studying the right things, rather than just studying everything in the subject textbook. It’s a great way to make your study more effective and it will feel a whole lot less overwhelming.
Syllabus = important stuff, textbooks = everything stuff. Got it?
When you’re unsure where to start revising, this is a great starting point. Speak to your teachers, they’ll help you get the information and understand it, they want you to do well.
4. Become a note-taking ninja
If you’re not already an avid note-taker, then it’s time to become one.
After checking out the syllabus and getting clear on what’s important, the next step is to make notes in a dedicated study folder. Making notes may seem old-school, but for lots of people the physical action of writing down information can help to cement it in your brain.
Keep that folder with you in all study periods so that you can refer to it and add new notes as you come across them.
It’s a great idea to highlight the important ones. Highlighting is another way to reinforce learning and help retain information. It’ll also help cut down on the volume of information to read through during revision time.
Then, before your exams, you can go back through your folder and know that you’re reading EVERYTHING you need to know at once.
5. Look after yourself
“Yes Mum” we hear you say. But it’s true.
Staying up late and then drinking heaps of energy drinks and coffee isn’t the way to succeed, no matter how ‘cool’ it might seem.
You need to get back to basics. Sleep (8-10 hours a night). Drink 2L of water a day (at least). EXERCISE (yeah!). And lastly, eat good food my young Padawan.
6. Practise makes perfect
The thought of sitting your exams can be daunting for most people, and our bodies have sneaky ways of reacting to stress.
Do you feel nauseous, or have gut churning sensations in the lead up to exams, feel anxious, can’t sleep. have low energy or suffer with headaches? Or do you feel fine up until you sit down & turn over the paper then freeze and panic you have forgotten everything?
They’re completely normal reactions – thanks biology. So, how can you feel better about going into exams and make sure that all your hard work pays off when you start writing?
The simplest way is practise.
When we practise something over and over, not only does it help us learn, but it also gives us confidence and can help combat those pesky stress symptoms.
Find some practise exams online, or ask your teachers to provide you with previous years exams, and incorporate answering them as part of your revision strategy.
Once you’ve done a few you’ll start to feel more comfortable and you could even introduce time limits, just like in a real exam scenario.
Familiarity with the kinds of questions you might get asked and the layout of the exams will set you up for success. Plus the added advantage that you’ll find out if you have any knowledge gaps that you need to swot up on before the real exams start.
7. Set goals
It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re putting yourself through a non-stop schedule of school, study and sleep.
So by having something to look forward to, a reward if you like, it’s heaps easier to stay on track through the months ahead.
For some, it’s the school formal or Schoolies Week (stay safe, ok?). And for others, it’s a gap-year exploring far off countries with just a backpack. Whatever it is for you, make sure it’s something that you really want and can keep focused on.
And while long term goals are the ultimate reward, and if it works for you, set yourself short term goals too. If you stick to your study schedule all week then how about a trip to the movies or just hang out with friends at the weekend? It could even be a little treat at the end of a study session before you hit the hay (and even though you’re looking after yourself, it doesn’t always have to be healthy).
8. Lots of little makes lots
Ok, that didn’t make much sense. But here’s what we mean: a little each day adds up to a whole heap at the end.
If you don’t study every day, the little study periods you haven’t done will add to a LOT you haven’t done. If you do study a little each day, it’ll add up to a LOT that you HAVE DONE. Which option do you want?
You’ve got this! Get your revision schedule organised and get going.
You’ve been at school for 12 years, it’s been an intensive learning curve and you’re almost at the end. Just one more hurdle to go & you’re off into the world to do your thing.
You’ve done heaps of exams before right? And you’re OK – you’ll be OK after these ones too.