Don’t study in the dark (either literally or metaphorically). There is nothing is more anxiety-provoking while studying than not knowing if what you have done is going to be enough or if you are going to get through the material in time. Instead, do everything you can to design a fool-proof plan to know what it takes to get the mark you want and get that done in the time available. A great study strategy will also hugely improve your study efficiency and success! Here’s the method I have cultivated having sat over 200 exams over the years…
- Decide on the mark you want. Be honest with yourself and decide what you are willing to put the time and effort in to get a solid pass or whether you want to aim for the top marks.
- Find out everything you can about what it will take to reach that goal.
- Use all the resources at your disposal: this might include looking at the course and exam outline and study aims, talking to people who have sat the course before, looking over old exam papers to see the format and what is covered. For major exams such as medical speciality exams or legal bar exams, you can find many resources and even entire books written on the subject.
- Make a list of all the topics you need to cover
- Create a realistic (and ideally generous) timeline to cover what you have discovered you need to do.
- When mapping out your study plan, remember to take into account that topics can differ in the amount of content and weighting in the assessment
- Include plenty of contingency days
- Include re-revision time, to go over your summary notes/take a second and third (or more?!) pass at the study material (don’t worry it gets easier and faster each time)
- Know you can get that mark.
This is important in order to go into the exam feeling confident instead of stressed. Give yourself a practice exam, ideally several practice exams taking time to revise on identified weak-spots between practices. Make sure you practice under exam conditions. If you are sitting a practical exam, get someone (or several people) suitably experienced to put you through a practice exam. Aim to consistently get more than the mark you are aiming for in the actual exam in your practices.
Contributors: Sasha Nair from Chic Balance