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  • Sasha Moonilal

6 Study Tips to ACE Your Exams This Semester

As the end of January approaches, high school students gear up for exam season. Unfortunately, this period is often associated with stress, anxiety, and poor sleeping habits. Many students turn to caffeine and all-nighters to prepare for exams, sacrificing time with loved ones and hobbies. However, it is possible to excel academically without neglecting physical and mental health or disconnecting from people and activities you enjoy. In this article, we provide six tips to help you navigate exam season while taking care of yourself.

Create A Study Plan

Starting exam season with a well-organized plan is key to success. A study plan can reduce stress levels, provide structure, and prevent procrastination. When creating your plan, note down all the relevant details about your exams, such as the dates, times, formats, and main topics. Identify the concepts you need to review for each exam and estimate the time required for each one.

Next, plan your study schedule. Ideally, create your study plan a few weeks before the exams start. Determine the main topics you need to cover for each exam and assign them to specific days. This will help you visualize your schedule and ensure that you have enough time to study for each exam. Stick to your plan by using reminders, time blocks, and to-do lists to motivate yourself.

Cut Out Distractions

Distractions such as phones, games, or people can hinder your ability to focus. Eliminating distractions is essential to study effectively and efficiently. The more focused you are, the better you will retain information. You can remove distractions by putting your phone in another room or removing any unnecessary items from your study space. Noise-cancelling headphones or white noise can also help minimize distractions.

Sometimes, certain study environments can be too distracting to get to that necessary level of focus needed to retain information. Going to a public space, such as the library or a tutoring session is a great way to ensure you will get the most out of your study session. Independent study programs, like Ottawa Tutoring's "Homework Club," are a great way to study in a quiet space without distractions. Not to mention, the Homework Club has a professional tutor in each session who can answer all of your questions.

Don’t Neglect The “Easy Stuff”

Neglecting "easy" concepts or topics in a course is a common mistake that students make when studying for an exam. Even if you feel confident in a particular subject, failing to study for the exam could lead to poor results and overconfidence. Spend adequate time reviewing all concepts and courses to avoid surprises on the exam.

Utilize Active Recall Studying Techniques

Rereading notes is an ineffective study technique. Research shows that active recall techniques are more effective. Active recall is the process of actively stimulating your memory for a piece of information. For example, if you are using flashcards, actively search for the answer before flipping the card over. This technique reinforces neural pathways and improves content retention. Active recall is different from recognition, which does not guarantee comprehension. Choose active recall techniques over passive methods to remember information better.

Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself after productive studying sessions is a great way to keep your motivation high throughout exam season. Your reward could be as simple as watching an episode of your favourite TV show or calling a friend. Small incentives help keep you on track and give you something to look forward to after completing a goal! Rewards also help to ensure you aren't over-studying and burning yourself out.

Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Health

Exams aside, your physical and mental health should be your number one priority during high-stress periods of life, like exam season. Making sure your body and mind are healthy is what will ultimately help you ace your exams! Staying properly fueled by eating balanced meals and drinking enough water is crucial. You may be tempted to skip meals and replace water with coffee, but that will just hurt you in the end. Eating balanced meals of whole foods is the best way to get enough energy to complete all of your tasks.

Getting enough sleep, alongside eating enough food, is probably the most important thing to remember this exam season! A full night’s rest allows your body to fully rest and be recharged for your next day of studying. Sleep can also help you learn, memorize, retain, recall, and apply your knowledge more effectively. So think twice before pulling that all-nighter before your next exam!



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