10 Tips You’ll Never Forget for Successful Exams

Friends studying outdoor

It’s that time of year again, exams are here. If that’s the case for you, let me give you 10 study tips you’ll never forget! Good luck.

1 Develop a study plan
‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’

So, draw up a schedule, preferably using a digital diary (e.g. Outlook, iCal) you can consult wherever you are.

Make sure your plan alternates topics or sections you find hard to master with easier ones.

Mark fixed start and end times for your study periods and breaks and stick to them.

Share your schedule with family and (on line) friends, so they’ll know you are really going for it.

2 Take regular breaks
Don’t try to cram your studying into one uninterrupted session. Studying for hours on end is less effective than spacing your work out over shorter periods of time.

Like any other muscle, the brain needs regular breaks to recuperate.

Therefore, alternate every 50 minutes to one hour of concentrated study with a 10-minute break.

Avoid strenuous activities during downtime, so that you really get to relax. Go to bed early; a good night’s sleep is crucial to the brain.

3 Stick to a healthy diet
Take light meals. Avoid sugary and fatty snacks (crisps, chocolate, etc.), as well as sugary and caffeinated drinks.

Do drink up to 1.5 litres of mineral water a day, so that you won’t go thirsty, as thirst can be very distracting. Drinking plenty of water also limits the risk of getting headaches.

4 Choose the right study environment
You’ll know from experience how easy it is to get distracted from your study goal.

Some students have no problem studying with background music; others require absolute quiet.

In any case, make sure to activate silent mode on phones and tablets and to put them somewhere well out of reach, even on a different floor.

You can check and answer your messages during planned breaks, but remember to keep an eye on the time.

5 Schematize your notes
You may find it helpful to arrange your summaries in a scheme.

Different students have different learning preferences and if you are a visual learner, this approach might suit you the best. Why not give it a try?

6 ‘Revision is the key to success’
Revising consolidates your learning.

Highlight key words and sentences, summarize lesson texts and re-read your summaries.

Do this for each section of your course, and in the end you will have a global summary of the subject matter.

Copy key information from you summary onto flash cards, like the ones TV presenters have, and use them when you test yourself or have someone else test you.

If you can recall the information on a flash card, it can be stored and needn’t be reviewed again. If not, the card goes on a ‘wrong’ pile, which you keep going through until there are no cards left.

While revising, it may help to read texts and notes out loud, even while pacing.

Also try reciting your summary to yourself.

7 Don’t stress
Stress is often the result of negative thinking: I’m going to fail, I’m running out of time, I might as well give up … Trust yourself and think positive.

Don’t let anxiety undermine your self-confidence: you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.

Take a breath of fresh air during breaks and don’t look back on exams you have already taken. Always look ahead!

8 Vent your emotions
During revision, find ways to let off steam.

A good talk with fellow students, who are experiencing the same insecurities , can help to put things into perspective.

9 Know when to call it a day
Avoid studying up to the very last minute.

Once the exams come up, make sure all you need to be ready is one final revision.

10 It’s okay to pat yourself on the back
If you feel you have had a good day, treat yourself to something nice: watch a fun movie, read a good book, lose yourself in a game, soak in a hot bath, jump on your bike and pedal away …

You deserve to indulge yourself from time to time. But make it an early night, so that you’ll be fit and bright the next day.

Thank you, Nadine, for your much appreciated revision.


Karel Overlaet is a family man, Senior Business Development Manager, creator of bingel (European market leading e-learning platform), owner of Medianaut, chairman Varen voor Autisme vzw (npo), nautical journalist and photographer, passionate about RIBs. karel@medianaut.be – Berchem – Belgium

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