Final Thoughts: Top Five Last Minute Study Tips

1. Go into Shut-down Mode!

Not you, though — your computer! Have you ever noticed how time just seems to fly by when you are using the computer? You find yourself aimlessly surfing from one site to the next. Then by the time you’ve checked your Facebook wall and twittered so much that you’re hoarse, the day is almost over.

If you do need some material online, by all means search for it. When you’ve found it, print it off and close down your computer, immediately!

The light of the computer also tends to delay the body clock so a lot of work at the screen late at night can act as a stimulant and interfere with your sleep. Even the laptop or computer fan can be quite loud, so make sure to turn it off before you go to bed.

The computer is a great study aid but don’t become overly dependent on it because in the exam your best friends will be paper and pen!

2. Be Suspicious of the Library

What! The sacred space that is the library! Yes, indeed. Go back to the quiet space that you know best. Unless every room in your house is completely overrun by children, animals or adults, you won’t need to head to the library where all your friends will be, too. By all means go for a couple of hours now and then, but ask yourself the key questions: Is this working for me? Am I getting the work done?

Many students troop off to their local library during the final months of study and leading up to exams. It can get overcrowded as everyone looks for ‘their’ seat and it can be quite stressful too.

3. Drop the Design Fetish

Making flashcards and notes is crucial in the lead-up to exams. However, as the day gets nearer, concentrate on using them — not making them!

You need to concentrate on getting the material into your head. Walk around, chanting to get them off by heart, then get somebody to test you. Don’t worry if people think you’ve gone a bit mad. Remember how Shakespeare’s Hamlet often seemed to lose the plot — there is method in the madness!

4. Revision Books and Notes

Textbooks contain maximum amounts of information for use over several years. Coming up to exams, make good use of your class notes and revision books.

Compact exam revision books now cover most subjects. Make sure to get ones that work for you! Avoid revision books that you can’t understand and that are bigger than your textbooks. They’re meant to help you and not to stress you out! Combine these with your class notes to make optimum use of your study time. Study smarter, not harder!

5. Subliminal Study

Record your quotes and study material on your iPod and listen to them as you go out for a walk or run. Borrow a neighbour’s dog or bring your own if you have one. Get out there and get moving — you’re getting some fresh air, not studying in the slightest! This subliminal form of study can be very useful. Repeating something over and over is said to embed information in your subconscious. Give it a go and see if it works for you. You may find yourself dreaming about Eavan Boland’s ‘War Horse’ clip clopping into your house, or that you are barricaded into a palace during the French Revolution, or about the difference between stalagmites and stalactites. Your dreams will take on a whole new meaning! Don’t worry if people think you’re as mad as a sock of frogs as you chant off this material — you’re the one with the exams to do. Focus! Focus! Focus!

If this subliminal method of learning the material is not working for you, concentrate on rest and relaxation instead. Getting fresh air and exercise is very important in itself. So if the iPod is a distraction, stop using it immediately.

It is really important to know yourself and what you find helpful — what works for your friend will not necessarily do the same thing for you.

The Biggest Secret of All for Study Success

Keep at it! Three words. Don’t think about what you should have done. Shoulds shatter. This word ruins your self-confidence, your belief in yourself and the positive mental attitude that you have been carefully building up.

What is the point of regretting things? It is a huge waste of your valuable energy. Don’t regret what has gone by. Start thinking instead of what you can do and are going to do now — right now. This day. This hour. This minute.

The gap between your dreams and your reality is smaller than you think. Keep working to make the dream happen!