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The Top Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing for Your Exams

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If you were to ask any student what they found most difficult about their educational career, they would probably answer: studying. Now, this probably doesn’t surprise you as it is something that you struggle with as well. While homework, assignments, and projects can be handled to a certain extent, exam prep can be tricky for most.

Not Creating a Study Plan

Perhaps the most important tool that you will have as a student is a study plan. This will give you insight into when you need to crack open the books, what topics you should study, and how long to spend on each section. Thus, before you can even think of getting started with your prep work, you first need a schedule.

To begin with, you will need to identify just when it is that you can study each day. Mark these blocks off. Then, take a look at your exam schedule and determine when you need to prepare for each subject. Finally, estimate how much time it will take you to cover each of these topics. This will give you your schedule.

Now, it is important to remember that coming up with the plan is only half the battle. For it to actually have a positive impact, you must follow it. So, make it a point to stick to your schedule as closely as you can.

Studying Without Paying Attention to Format

As you are aware, each exam has its own format. Some only include multiple-choice questions. Others are broken up into different sections that test various skills. Then there are those that get you to argue a certain viewpoint.

Since there are so many different types of tests, it is important for you to first identify the structure before studying. This can easily be done by looking through practice tests. This will give you a better idea of how the exam will proceed.

Better still, looking over the exam template will show you how you need to study. For instance, if the exam tests your reasoning skills, simply memorising statistics and facts alone will not help you out much. Instead, you will need to figure out how to use fundamental concepts to solve certain problems. It is due to this that you should always take a look at how the tests are framed first.

Failing to Absorb Information

Have you ever read through a paragraph or page and at the end of it can’t remember anything you went through? If this is something that you experience, it means that you are reading passively rather than actively. When you do this, it is more difficult for your brain to absorb any information. The good news is that you can overcome it.

The first thing you should do is to break up your reading material. This is especially important with more complex subject matter. If you try to tackle these all at once, you aren’t going to end up understanding much. So, cut it down into more manageable chunks.

The next thing you should do is to take notes on everything you are doing. Once you have read a definition, idea, or concept, make a note of it. When you do this, you are forcing yourself to pay more attention to the fact, increasing the likelihood that you will remember it.

It is also important to stop your studying session whenever you catch yourself drifting off. After all, you can’t focus on two things at once. So, if you find your mind wandering give yourself a minute to bring it back to the task at hand. This will cut down on how much time you waste.

Last but not least, get into the habit of teaching someone else what you have learned. This, too, acts as a form of reiteration. It can also be a good test to discover just how much you have absorbed and what elements you are still having trouble with.

Having Cram Sessions

Another bad habit that students pick up is cramming. This is often done for one of two reasons. The first is that you have left your studying for the last minute and now have a limited amount of time to figure out the material. The second is that you think that studying for long stretches of time is best.

The problem with this form of studying, though, is that it doesn’t fit with your attention span. Most people can only pay attention for a certain period of time. If you are studying something interesting, you will be able to focus longer and if it is less fascinating, you will get bored more quickly.

So, if you just sit in one place and attempt to memorise information for hours at a time, you will find yourself unsuccessful. It is much better to study in shorter intervals – about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on what works for you. Then, take a five or ten-minute break and then go back to studying.

Studying With Distractions

Students these days face more distractions than ever before. The internet, social media, and various other forms of technology means that you are constantly being interrupted. Or, at the very least, you are being tempted. This is something you need to address.

One thing you can do is to put your phones and devices on Airplane Mode before a study session. This way, you will not be bothered by notifications or calls. You may also want to think about temporarily disabling or blocking social media. This will cut down on the urge to keep checking your phone.

You should also try to study in an environment with very little noise. In particular, you should avoid music with lyrics as these can interrupt your thought process. If you find it difficult to work in silence, play instrumental music that has shown to promote concentration.

So, are you guilty of any of these mistakes? If so, you are certainly not the only one – virtually every student on the planet has made these missteps at some point or another. However, now that you are aware of what you are doing wrong, it is important to get back on to the right track. Then, acing your exams will be a lot easier to manage.

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