The following is a guest post by Robbie Marquis, a college student. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.
College is one of the busiest phases of a student’s life. There are so many things to keep in mind and balance that you tend to lose time for other parts of your life. Of course, right now, your studies are your top priorities, but if you ever find yourself cramming for some last minute studying, remember that it definitely will be a difficult task to undertake, but with enough focus and determination, nothing is impossible. To make it easier for you to retain everything that you study, here are some steps that you can take.
Social media has definitely changed how we see our world nowadays. It has altered the way we stay updated about the ins and outs of the current world and the way we keep in touch with the people around us. Essentially, social media has become a very important tool for us to stay in the loop and create new acquaintances.
But if you have errands to do, books to read and online exams to pass, then you will need to keep yourself from checking your social media feeds in the meantime. Whether it is your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other platforms that you use for social connections, if it won’t help you focus on your studies or even pull your attention away from it, it’s better to leave it alone until you are done with your online exams.
Social media has made a reputation on its own for affecting the focus of many students and even affecting their scholastic performances. So if you want to keep your focus on nothing else but your studying, then stay away from any gadgets that may allow you from opening your accounts. Turn off your phone, laptop and other online devices and stick to reading and memorizing your lessons to make sure that you pass your exams.
2. Gather All Your Materials Before you Cram for an Online Exam
There is nothing more frustrating and panic-inducing than knowing that you don’t have all your study materials available. Not to mention that it’s affecting your study session! So it’s ideal to always keep all your books and notes in one place and ready to use at all times. And if you have an exam coming up soon, get all of your materials ready beforehand.
Aside from getting your documents ready, it’s also best to always have your study station ready and available for your sessions. Keep your desk clean and make sure that the only things you have available on your table are your books, notebooks, pens and papers, or if you have notes on your laptop, then you might want to keep that handy, too. Take away anything that might distract you and once you have started studying, you should just focus on getting yourself ready for your upcoming online exams.
Another good thing that you should do is for you to get some important details about your upcoming exams. Once it is announced that you have an online exam coming up, you should write down the exam’s location, date, and time.
It will also be helpful if you can find out what its focus will be as it can help you understand what you have to study and retain. Some professors give out some pointers beforehand, but if it’s something that is not available, you might want to ask your professor to provide these details to you and your classmates as it can help you concentrate your studies only on topics that are covered.
3. Review All Your Notes or Flashcards One More Time
Whenever preparing for an online exam, you should never underestimate the importance of taking down notes or preparing cards to review everything that you have read and studied. By writing things down, you get to retain information better. By reading back the notes you have prepared, you get to refresh the information in your brain and hone your brain’s ability to easily recall information.
This is why it is essential to schedule a study session, either by yourself or with a group. There are, of course, pros and cons to both setups. If you study by yourself, you tend to get bored or get distracted and no one can tell you off or remind you to go back and focus on studying. On the other hand, by studying with a group, you have like-minded people to throw questions and answers to and to review your lessons with, but there is a tendency for the study sessions to veer away from what really needs to get done. But if you are really determined or focused on reviewing and absorbing as much information as you can, there will always be a way. All you need to do is focus, focus, focus.
4. Focus only on the Big Ideas & Key Details
Speaking of focus, did you know that you can teach your brain to be selective in the information that it retains? Instead of trying to cram every single information from a book into your brain, you can instead focus on the valuable information and tune your attention out from the unimportant details. This might sound challenging to some, but there are ways to improve your ability for selective attention.
First of all, you need to identify which of the topics you need to study are the most difficult to retain. Maybe you are doing well with Chemistry, but you need to improve your understanding of some topics in Calculus. By knowing which of the subjects are more challenging for you, you get to improve your focus and prepare your brain as to what needs to be prioritized.
Next, you should establish your goal. The good thing about online exams is that it usually provides the examinees with an introduction about what they will be looking forward to in terms of the exam proper. If you have that information ready, then you can easily shift your focus on what sections or chapters will be included in your online exams. It will also help if you have an idea about the style of the examination. Will it be multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, essay style, or a mixture of each. By anticipating the challenges that you may encounter in your online exams, you’ll be able to identify what information you need to focus on.
Lastly, you need to keep yourself focused on nothing else but your study session. You might have a few other things on your to-do list, but by understanding the importance of passing your upcoming examination, you can keep yourself from doing other less important matters. By knowing what to focus on and what ideas or topics matter, your brain can then filter out all the unimportant information and just retain all the necessary details.
5. Set Goals & Rewards as you Study for an Online Exam
Studying for an exam involves a lot of focus and hard work. It might sound like it is an easy task to undertake, considering that all you need to do is sit down, read and write down some important stuff. But it takes a lot of energy for your brain to sponge in as much information as necessary in a short span of time. This is why, as much as possible, last minute studying is not always advisable.
Overworking your brain can sometimes affect your mental and physical health. You might have to sacrifice sleep hours, not be able to eat a proper meal, or even have to drink some carbonated, caffeinated or sugary drinks just to keep you going while you burn the midnight oil. By the end of your study sessions and online exams, you might feel so drained out. But you have done your best to ace your exams, so you deserve nothing but some much-needed R and R.
A good practice that usually encourages us to meet a specific goal is by giving ourselves a reward. It could be something like scheduling a relaxing weekend trip to a spa resort with your BFF or significant other if you pass your online exams. Or maybe you’ll throw a house party and invite everyone in your class to join you. Whatever reward works for you, it’s a good thing to give yourself a prize for accomplishing something important.
Whether you are trying to balance your life as a working student, as a parent pursuing a college degree, or as an active member of your college’s org, the fact remains that your study should always be a part of your list of priorities. Studying should always be a constant practice, so that you won’t have to stress yourself and tire your brain out by doing it last minute. A more relaxed and laid-back study session will help improve your focus on everything that you need to retain. This way you are ready, even for surprise quizzes or exams.
Whether you are preparing for a big online test or just for a weekly quiz, it’s still important to be in control of your studies. Remember that it will take a lot of time, energy and effort before you can get that much coveted diploma, so make every moment count. Who knows, if you are hardworking enough, maybe you can get rewarded with some honors on your graduation day!
Author’s Bio: Robbie served as the Vice President of the Student Congress at OU and has dedicated his collegiate time to representing the students. Some of Robbie’s other interests include writing reminders for himself on sticky notes and putting them everywhere, learning how to become a better leader, watching or performing spoken-word poetry, or doing things that inspire him.
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