You’ve got your revision plan and the content you need to study. You’ve got your methods sorted and you’re raring to go. When exam season hits, it’s wonderful to have all of this in place; but what is just as important, if not more important, is remaining focused during exam season. It would be a huge shame to do all of the groundwork and then lose focus at the most crucial stage.
Here are Pearson College London’s 7 ways to stay focused during exam season…
1. Find a quiet place
Prior to starting an exam, when it’s time for last minute cramming, finding a quiet place to gather your thoughts and ensure that you have the relevant knowledge of the topic and how to apply it to an exam question is going to help you to be successful. Although it is great to talk things through with friends, ultimately it will be you and the exam paper, without any prompts from friends, so gathering your thoughts independently will keep your eyes on the prize.
2. Study with the right friends
Revising alone can sometimes make things repetitive and boring and it can be hard to comprehend ideas without questioning and debating topics with others that understand the topic too. Therefore, revising with friends can be a fantastic way to bounce ideas off each other and help each other to understand areas of the subject or topic area that you might be struggling with.
However, you need to be really honest with yourself when choosing the friends to revise with. Often we socialise with friends and joke around; any distractions are not going to help when it comes to revision and exams, so make sure that you revise with friends that are going to help, stay focused and not hinder your results.
3. Stick to your plan
You will (hopefully) have a revision plan in place in advance of your exams to ensure that everything that needs to be studied is covered off prior to the examination. It may seem obvious, but stick to the plan! It can be very easy to revise what you know over and over again because it increases our self-esteem and makes us feel clever. However, that is not going to help if something that you haven’t revised comes up in the exam.
Stick to your plan to ensure that you evenly cover the topics that are due to come up in the exam, as well as balancing the subjects you have, especially if you have two exams in one day!
4. Remove Distractions
This follows on from sticking to the revision plan, as distractions are going to prevent this from happening. Some ways in which you can remove distractions are:
Use ‘downtime’ on your phone if you have an iPhone. On the settings section of an iPhone is a downtime setting that will lock you out of your phone so that you cannot use it whilst you are revising. There are also a whole host of revision apps that can help you. If you don’t have an iPhone, the solution is simple: put your phone on silent in another room to the one you are revising in and don’t look at it until you are finished!
- Turn off the television – television can be used as a reward during revision breaks so having it on whilst revising will distract your body to believe that it is taking a break. Turn it off!
- Remove physical distractions – if you have a lot of clutter on your desk or table where you plan to revise, remove it! Little objects that aren’t even electronic can distract you. It needs to be you and your revision materials to have maximum focus!
5. Plan Small Rewards
If you have a few exams in a row, you should plan small rewards after each one such as a lunch out, a coffee or a chocolate bar. This will help to keep your spirits high and will sustain your motivation to help you meet the demands of the next exam. It may seem silly, but as long as you don’t over-reward yourself, acknowledging that you are working hard with treats will maintain your focus. It can also help you to get back to studying after a well-deserved break!
6. Don’t start celebrating too early
If you are studying different subjects to your friends, it is highly likely that you will finish your exams at different times, which often results in earlier celebrations. This could work in your favour and you could be the first to finish! Alternatively, you could be a later finisher and your friends might begin to celebrate with late nights whilst you are still preparing for an exam or more.
It might seem unfair, but that’s just the way it is and it’s only for a short period of time, so try not to celebrate until your exams are over! Keep your distance temporarily from your friends that have already finished to ensure that you can stay focused. It will only be a few more days, a week at a push, so if you’ve gone this far, you’re on the final stretch and you can do it!
Similarly, if you are the early finisher, try not to distract your friends that are still going! Encourage them to study and don’t show off all the fun you’re having; reassure them that you will have a big celebration when they are done.
7. Look after yourself
It can be really easy to just focus on exams during exam season which does make sense but it is important to put your health before everything else. Feeling a little stressed shows you are passionate and care about the results you receive. However, you need to contain the stress so that it doesn’t overtake your life.
If you have sports commitments or go to the gym, maintain those commitments. You may need to cut down slightly but having those activities is a great mental break from revision.
Make sure that you are also eating properly and getting enough sleep. Try not to let the revision take over your life to a point where it is all you are doing because that will eventually have negative implications on your health. You need to balance it well!
Staying focused is not easy, but hopefully these steps will help you to ensure that you are making the most out of your revision and knowledge.