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Studying for your exams: tips and resources

Thursday, 5 May 2016


If anyone knows how real the struggle is, it's me. When I was studying for my National 5's, I literally stressed myself sick- so bad, that I had to go to the doctors several times, and actually even ended up developing chronic tension headaches due to stress. So if you're reading this and you're stressed out of your mind, possibly even having a mental breakdown, and you think I don't understand what you're going through; please, think again.

Having had 3 years of experience of dealing with exams, I would like to think that I have at least a bit of useful knowledge/wisdom which I can share with you. I really hope that you find this helpful, whether you're going to be sitting your first ever exam, or your last ever school exam. Best of luck!

3 study tips

1. Make a study timetable. In order to achieve you full potential, you should probably think about starting to study about 3 months before your first exam. I know this might seem very far in advance at the time, but you'll really appreciate it in the lead up to the exam, when you aren't cramming all your studying!
For example:
2-3 months ahead: 1 hour of studying per subject each week
2-4 weeks ahead: 2 hours of studying per subject each week (have a half hour break after each hour)
1 week ahead: 4-5 hours of studying for the exam coming up

2. Have healthy study snacks. I know how tempting it is to binge eat comfort foods when you're stressed out, and as tempting as salt and vinegar pringles, or a box of celebrations may be, there are better alternatives. This isn't just because you should be 'healthy' but because your brain is going to be able to absorb information much more effectively if you snack more healthily. This post by Hannah Emily Lane has some great ideas for the best study snacks.

3. Reward yourself. My youth leader always talked about the importance of rewarding yourself after studying. That could mean going for a walk after a 2 hour study session, or going for a meal out after completing your first exam. It's important that you appreciate that what you're doing is difficult, and you deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work you've been putting into your studies

3 study resources

1. If you have a phone, or preferably a tablet, why don't you try installing google keyboard, and microsoft word document. Then, using the google keyboard, you should be able to speak your study notes aloud, and it will automatically write it out for you. I find this method of studying much more effective than simply writing out heaps of notes.

2. Find past papers for your exam, so that you can practice them. If you study in Scotland, then past papers will be on SQA.org.uk, and if you study in England, then they will be on http://www.aqa.org.uk.

3. https://www.examtime.com/en-GB/ is a great website for studying, as you can create notes in a simple document format, or as mindmaps, quizzes, or flipcards. Plus, using the search tool, you can key in the topic that you're studying, and access loads of notes that people have made previously.

Good luck!

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