At times when you may be trying to study for exams…

  • Your mind may wander from one thing to another
  • Your worries may distract you
  • Outside distractions may take you away from your studies before you know it
  • You may find the material boring, difficult, and/or not interesting

The Keys to Effective Studying

  • Effective study skills must be practiced in order to improve
  • It’s not enough to “think about” studying – you actually have to do it and then reflect on what you could be doing better

General Exam Study Tips

  • Prioritize! Make a list of what you intend to study and prioritize the list
  • Study no more than 45-60 minutes at a stretch, and then take breaks
  • Take breaks away from your desk and do something different
  • Try to continue your daily habits as usual (don’t drastically reduce your sleep, eliminate exercise, or overeat)
  • Don’t make last minute changes like changing your handwriting, buying a new pen, etc.

Creating the Right Environment for Studying

  • Make sure the environment is moderately comfortable (furniture, temperature)
  • Work somewhere where you will be free of distractions (phone, TV, etc.)
  • Try to use a space that is YOURS only and doesn’t have to be shared with other family members
  • Keep the study space organized with a specific place for paper, pens, books etc.
  • Have everything you need to study with you before you sit down so you don’t waste time looking for things

Study Strategies

  • Question – ask questions to reinforce your own learning
  • Read – actively read over the material and be alert to main ideas, bolded terms, and key understandings and details
  • Recite – recalling and then orally or through writing communicating the information – make connections orally or through writing
  • Review – re-reading, summarizing key points, testing yourself, asking final questions
  • Getting Organized
  • Reading with Purpose
  • Getting the Main Ideas
  • Extracting Important Detail
  • Taking Notes

Student Study Strategies that DON’T work

  • Reading information out loud without writing it down
  • Reviewing the material only one time
  • Studying with someone else – unless you are equally committed and focused
  • Staying up really late or pulling an all-nighter without studying prior

Coping with Exam Anxiety
Exam anxiety can be viewed in two different ways:

  • Poor coping with the inevitable stress of an exam BEFORE it takes place
  • A strong emotional reaction of fear that interferes with thinking clearly DURING the exam

Tips for Coping with Exam Anxiety

  • Be Prepared Early
  • Set up a study schedule at least 2 weeks before your exam
  • Sleep Well
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule helps reduce stress and increase performance
  • Learn relaxed breathing
  • When you get stressed, taking some slow, relaxed breaths can help you think clearly again

Review main themes

  • Go over main ideas or concepts in the material to reinforce that you do understand the “big picture”
  • Have a plan before the exam
  • As part of your studying, think about how you will approach the exam and what you will do when you run into trouble

Aim to do your best

  • Recognize and turn off your negative self-dialogue – focus on the task at hand and simply aim to do your best.

The Day of The Exam…

    • Get a good night’s sleep before the exam
    • Wake up at a reasonable time so you can get ready at a leisurely pace and have breakfast
    • Take all the needed tools – paper, pencil, pens, eraser, calculator, etc.
    • Arrive at the place early to allow time to relax before the test begins
    • Stay away from other stressed-out students who may get you worried before the exam
    • Do breathing exercise like slowly exhaling
    • Admit to yourself that you will not know all of the answers on the exam…and that’s okay! Don’t associate all test scores with your self – worth.

Dr. Rituparna Ghosh
Consultant Clinical Psychologist