We’ve all been there, breezing through the academic term on cruise control, when suddenly exams swerve around the corner bringing with them a huge mountain of stress to climb. Even if you are the most prepared person on the planet, exams can still rattle nerves and raise anxiety levels, so here are our top tips for staying calm and collected while you get your revision in order;
Having a great plan of action is key to removing a lot of pre-exam tension. Draw up a weekly planner
Actually DO it
You might have the prettiest plan on the planet, beautifully colour coded and hand written in your best calligraphy. But unless you actually stick to the plan you could be heading for a world of worry. It can be super hard to stop procrastinating and make yourself study, just keep reminding yourself of how prepared you will feel on the big day.
Use a social media blocker
Social media blocking apps are usually free on a trial basis and they are hugely helpful in keeping you focused on your revision. It’s so easy to get side-tracked by YouTube or Twitter, so to up your revision game you need to (temporarily) eliminate the major distractions in your life.
Turn on, tune in
Ever heard of the Mozart Effect? This is the result of research which indicates that listening to classical music actually improves test scores, creativity and learning efficiency while cutting learning time and raising IQ scores by at least 9 points. What are you waiting for? Tune yourself in to a classical music radio station or podcast to give your brain a boost while you study.
Use your nose
Associated learning is a process by which one event is linked to another, such as linking study to an exam. In 2003, Northumbria University carried out a range of cognitive tests on subjects exposed to lavender or rosemary. Unsurprisingly, they found that the sedating qualities of lavender meant that group performed worse in the memory tests, while those in the rosemary group performed much better than the controls.
Improve your nutrition
You may well have made it through a whole term eating noodles and pasta but now’s the time to start stocking up on brain foods. Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast as studies have shown that this is the most important meal for improving short term memory. Omega 3 rich foods like fish are perfect for enhancing memory, while blueberries and broccoli also enhance cognitive function.
Get your running shoes on
A study by University of British Colombia shows that regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and cognitive function. Study participants walked briskly for one hour, twice a week, increasing the volume in the parts of the brain which control thinking and memory. Either go for a run, a swim, or take up that dance class at your local gym to start seeing cognitive improvements in your study.
Catch some zzz’s
Quite possibly the easiest part of studying, sleeping is key to making sure your brain retains and organises all the information collected during the day. Anyone who’s had a sleepless night knows that it’s impossible to focus the day after, so taking steps to get the best night’s sleep will help you when it comes to exam time.
Take study breaks
All work and no play? Time to step away from the books and give your brain a chance to process all the information you are overloading it with. Schedule regular, manageable chunks of time away from your desk to focus on something other than study to help your cognitive function and memory recall.
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