Do you see that? Just over there. Yep, that’s summer!! It’s so close that we can almost smell the suncream and Lays crisps. Buuuuut, there is just one more obstacle in the way. Summer exams, the JC or the LC. We know you’re tired, and we know you are overwhelmed, but we are here to tell you to keep studying and give it one last push.
Now, we never claim to know it all, and let’s be honest, it’s been a while since any of the team at Shona HQ has sat an exam – far too many years for us to admit to. Things have changed since our secondary school exams – boy do we feel old – and we wanted to ensure we gave you the most practical tips we could.
Cue our Jambo Caitriona! See, she knows what she is talking about because she is living the life of a secondary school student just like you. Honestly, she knows her sh*t and is going to serve you a plate of golden study nuggets right here…
Number One: EXAM PAPERS
I will say this countless times, again and again. Exam papers are the best way to study. Not only does it help you figure out what you know and what you don’t know, but it also gets you used to the style of the questions in the actual exam, as well as the layout. Do as many questions as you can.
For me, after each topic I complete, I like to do an exam question so I can get the feel of the exam style and expectations of the corrector. A huge help is that the more exam papers you complete, you’ll start noticing that the same questions or topics keep coming up again and again. This then helps you prioritise what topics to study really thoroughly. Exam papers will become your new best friend.
Number Two: Flashcards
Flashcards are also a great tool for studying. What I personally like to do with flashcards is write the term I wish to know on one side, and the definition on the other. Then flick through them, read and text myself.
Flashcards are great as they implement active recall, which forces your brain essentially to remember something you have already learnt. Active recall is way better than passive learning, which is doing things like reading the textbook or highlighting. Flashcards I find are really great for languages. I like to write key vocab on flashcards and refresh my memory by reading over them every so often.
Flashcards are also helpful in establishing what you know and what you don’t know. Any flashcards you don’t know can simply be put to the bottom of the pile or in a separate pile to go over again. They are also really practical for on-the-go learning as you can do them anywhere.
Number Three: Mind maps
If you are not familiar with them, mind maps are where you draw a circle in the middle of the page and draw lines which are ‘branches’ coming out. You then fill the page by writing down everything you know, linking concepts, definitions etc. together.
The key to mind maps is to not write long paragraphs of text, but just write simple words with a little explanation beside them.
Keep a mind map for each topic you finish, and use it as a quick revision before your exam as they are great to skim over. Make the mind map as colourful and engaging as you like, whatever will help you learn. You can hang them up on your walls if you like so you see them every day and go over them, putting the information into your long-term memory. Try websites like Quizlet to help you create and use your flashcards!
Number Four: Blurting
Popularised by YouTuber Unjaded Jade, blurting is essentially where you put ‘prompts’ from a chapter e.g. titles and subheadings on a piece of paper, set a timer for 2-3 minutes and write down everything you know without looking at your notes or textbook. You could even just have a blank piece of paper with no prompts! After the timer is up, compare with your notes or textbook and any information you missed write out on the paper in a different colour pen. Blurting is a really effective way of finding out what you know and what you don’t know in a very fast and efficient way.
Number Five: Testing Yourself
Pretty self-explanatory. Test yourself in whatever way works for you. I like to just write out some questions from my textbook or make up my own and answer them. This cuts down on the areas you have good knowledge of and the areas that need some work. I find personally any questions I get wrong I remember more! You could also get someone else to test you. This is especially helpful when preparing for language orals and it also holds you accountable to start studying.
Number Six: Teach someone else
Once you have learnt a topic, teach someone else about it. This could be a parent, younger sibling or friend. If you don’t have someone to teach, teach the wall, table or even the dog! This reinforces the information in your brain and identifies any gaps in your knowledge. It is also really beneficial if you teach a young child as you will need to simplify the information, even more, to make it understandable, which by default increases your understanding. It’s like studying with power!
Number Seven: Get rid of all distractions!
This goes without saying but is very important. Get rid of your phone, computer, or anything that will distract you while studying. Put your phone in another room. It’s very easy to start scrolling “just for 5 minutes” which then turns into hours of mindless scrolling. Removing any distractions will also cut down on procrastinating and help you with your studying.
So there you have it. Some of the best study tips we’ve heard in a long time! Why not try one out each day over the next week? See what works, see what doesn’t and make your plan from there.
Exams are tough but remember. You are tougher. All you can do it your best and your best is ALWAYS enough. We’re cheering for you x
If you would like to support us and the work that we do, you can find out more below