My dad was doing some form of business exam in Dublin a few weeks ago. I met him the night before, he was staying in a hotel near the exam centre, where he proudly showed me his student study pack. It contained apples, cereal bars, homemade biscuits, coffee in a flask and bottles of water. This put me to shame, I don’t think I’ve ever been that organised in my entire life I had to admire that preparation.
He also likened his study to when Rocky had to go into the wilderness to train for the big fight (I’m really not familiar the plotline), except Dad was really the prissy middle-class boy studying in a dingy hotel. The one piece of advice I gave him, (doesn’t it feel great to give your parents advice) was that on his way to the exam, he should clear his mind and not think about his notes, just to let his mind rest. I always find there are those few minutes at the start of the exam where your brain blanks and you can’t think of the answers. Everything you have studied seems to have packed it’s bags and gone on permanment holidays. Don’t panic – take those minutes to just relax and the answers will come, you’ve put in the work and the information is there.
- But before that envitable moment, there are a few things that you can do to make your studying a little bit easier.
- Buy nice pens and highlighters. My class notes are usually illegible, so I then rewrite them neatly in a new notebook. I then colour all of this is different coloured highlighters. Eason’s sell 50 c notebooks that I buy every semester. They’re small enough that I can carry all of them in my bag but can still fit all of my notes in them. Tiger is also a treasure trove for all things notebooky.
- Structure your study plan. I usually leave my best subject for last because I know I can fly through the notes. This means that I put my worst subjects first, which can be painful, but it means that I can spend more time focusing on understanding the tougher content.
- Take breaks. Leave the room, get out of the house, grab a coffee, complain to the barista about how hard study is. Just get out of your study mindset and reset your brain.
- Try not to take pint breaks. That lukewarm summer weather always emerges just as you pick up a book, the winds whispering in your ear, “Pint?”. Resist this urge. Drunk studying never works out. Leave the pints and/or cans until you walk out of that exam and head straight for the canal.
When you take a seat in the exam hall, just remember to take a breath before you start. The hard work will pay off.