April is a common time for wrapping up the winter semester at university and writing final exams. Ah, the memory is with me still: cramming ’til dawn, slurping lousy coffee until my teeth threaten to mutiny, frantically photocopying notes to reconstruct missing lectures.
If that is your study practice, then you’re a runaway train looking for a crash site. I’m sorry to say, that does closely match my regime of years ago, but nobody ever suggested something different.
I’d like to help shift that. With the best interests of your brain, body and learning potential in mind, here are my Top Tips for Optimizing Your Exam Experience.
1. Organize your studying to reflect what you know is going to be emphasized on the exam; consult old exams, ask your instructor
2. Plan to have a good sleep the night before an exam of at least six hours duration
3. Consume good food and healthy, energizing drinks; limit your intake of caffeine and soda, especially if you are feeling tired
4. Build physical activity into your schedule, especially while you are studying; think yoga, tai chi, chi gong, paddle ball, rebounding, shooting some hoops, stretching, running some stairs
5. reduce your stress (all the above will help) by consciously filtering and choosing the subjects on which you are concentrating; ‘ruminating’ about dark, grim scenarios will do nothing to help you prepare and sit an exam but drain energy better used for prepping and exam time
6. in your imagination, create a ‘positive resourceful state’, conjuring up self-empowering images, voices, music or scenarios that combine all of these; at stressful moments, such as when you are studying or when an exam being, choose to bring to mind your ‘resource state’ and concentrate fully on this until you feel that empowerment throughout your body. Now go back to your main activity with new focus and vigor (I devote an appendix to this in my book, “Learn Your Way!”)
7. analyze the results you are creating, as you prepare for your exam and then sit it, and when you are finished. Actively decide which processes served you well, and which ones you wish to change for … your next exam! Implement the changes
Follow these tips and you won’t need good luck on your exams, but your peers who didn’t follow these tips sure will!
For information on my new book: Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now and to order a copy, go here.