Exam season is on its way. Are you ready? Of course you are. But if you want a few ideas about how to be even better prepared, we’re here to help. Or, rather, Lizzie from our Tax team is.
Lizzie was a natural choice for this because, as a graduate on our Tax Analyst Development Programme, she does a huge amount of learning. Take a look at the development programme details if you want to know more.
Anyway, we asked her to share her exam top tips. And here’s what she said.
University didn’t only teach me new skills and in-depth knowledge in my chosen subject. It also taught me new ways of learning and thinking, equipping me with the foundations to tackle life and professional hurdles that were to come – including the daily responsibilities in my job today.
But the first hurdle I had to overcome were exams. We all deal with exams differently, and they’re not always a testament of our capabilities and intelligence. Take from that what you will, but what I’m trying to say is - studying is key. And through that comes a host of different ways and methods you can adopt to push yourself forward in the exam game. Let me share with you my seven study tips that got me through my studies, and ace my exams.
1. Read out loud
Some things are easier to remember than others. The information I had to process and remember for exams would require me to re-read text over and over again. So, to help information stay in my brain, I would speak it out loud. The process required me to read, process, say, and hear the information, which helped me to remember it. It also helped me to stay focused on the text, and not drift off in thought. And switching things up from the constant silent reading, made it a little less boring.
2. Measure progress
School shows us the importance of measuring progress through mock exams, and practice papers. When studying, I found that incorporating small tests into my studying helped me have a clearer idea of my progress, and highlight areas that needed focusing. It also rounded up topics, giving me a good overview, and helping me to remember information.
3. Draw it
“A picture is worth a thousand words”. I’m no Picasso. I was always more a numbers person. That being said, visualising information in front of me helped me to process and remember information more effectively. I’m not saying create a piece of art – though if that works for you then go ahead. For me this meant using post-it notes, getting the highlighters out, mapping out my notes, drawing diagrams, tables, or pictures to accompany the information.
4. Leave enough time
Don’t leave things last minute, try and stay in control of your workload. Planning and organising your studying is essential to time management. It’s all too easy to let time to slip away, so I try to list things out. Starting early and allowing yourself enough time is key to staying on top of things.
5. Get some sleep
During study time, it’s easy to put sleep at the end of your list. But don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. I try to get around seven to eight hours a day so that my mind and body can get the rest it needs to concentrate properly.
6. Do exercise
During the days and weeks following up to exams, I would neglect (perhaps even sacrifice) a lot of activities - partying, hobbies, TV, being a few of them. I was prioritising, which is of course vital in planning your study time. But when prioritising, don’t be fooled in thinking that exercise isn’t an important part of that.
It’s easy to bury your head in books, and dedicate all your valuable hours to studying. But exercise was one of the few non-studying activities I made sure I kept. It acted as a great relief and break from the constant reading, which was mentally tiring. And after a run, I would feel recharged and reenergise to carry on with more studying. And the reason is science. Exercise stimulates the brain, improves memory, thinking skills, as well as decreasing fatigue.
In fact, I use to take this further. Instead of cramming the last bits of information in my brain right before an exam, I would instead opt for a run. It made me feel better, and gave me the energy to go in and tackle the seemingly fateful day ahead.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
The grass is always greener, and we are often our own worst enemy. During my time in education, I would often look around and compare myself to others. This encouraged self-doubt, and warped my perspective of my own progress, which in turn created a fear and anxiety that was unhealthy and held me back. Everyone is different. And therefore, everyone reacts, deals, and performs differently when studying. It’s easy to get caught up in competition and comparison at university - in fact, that doesn’t really leave you in the professional world. But it’s important to assess yourself, and your performance by your own standards. So, you can do your best.
Finally, back yourself. You’ve got this; it’s all there. Just study hard, work hard, and nail it.