Critical exam preparation tips to make last minute studying count

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It’s exam crunch-time! Now that you’re over halfway into writing, you might already be feeling emotionally and physically drained, and anxious about the subjects that lie ahead. How can you make these final three weeks count and make the most of the time you have left to study? At a recent Fundi TwitterSpaces event, social media influencer David Kabwa and a group of students shared their thoughts, experiences, tips and tricks to guide you through this stressful period. Here’s what they recommend…

Preparing for your exams can often be as – if not more – stressful than writing the actual exams itself. “This is why you must take care of your ‘whole’ self throughout your exam preparation period,” says Mala Suriah, CMO of Fundi. “This includes your physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”

One of the best ways to support yourself is to create a daily routine specifically for the exam period. “This can take the form of a timetable where you plan everything from when you’re going to eat to what time you’re going to sleep,” says Suriah. “Planning like this helps most of us to feel less anxious. It gives you a better sense of what’s possible within the time you have available to study which is usually very reassuring. It also creates highlights in the day to look forward to when you can switch off! These can include calling a friend; watching a bit of TV or going for a walk or something similar. They’re 10-minute breaks that give you space and time to breathe and let your mind absorb what you’ve just been studying.”

Eating properly and exercising are also very important. “One of the best ways to release pent up anxiety and stress is by doing some form of cardio-vascular exercise. You can do this in your room or outside: running on the spot; star-jumps or boxing all give your body a much-needed release when you’ve been concentrating and focusing for a long period,” says Suriah. “Try studying in blocks of 50 minutes with an exercise break of 10 minutes in-between. You’ll come back refreshed, energised and ready to start again.”

Breaks also help you to minimise distractions and focus explains Kabwa. “If possible, ask your family for the use of a quiet room where you can close the door and concentrate. Switch off your phone and focus. Don’t study in ‘busy’ places where your family or room-mates are sitting or talking, or in front of the TV. Also make sure you have a window open for fresh air: stuffy warm spaces will make you drowsy, especially if you’re already tired.”

He adds that a critical “self-care” element is sharing how you’re feeling with people who care about you, especially if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or pressured as the exams get closer. “Some of this could relate directly to the very high expectations that your parents have of you – which was what happened with me. You need to tell them how they’re making you feel, and ask them to support you in a ‘healthier’ way.”

Perhaps the best advice however, is to go into each exam positive and do your best. “Each exam you write takes you a step closer to your dreams of the future,” says Suriah. “If you see it like that, it suddenly becomes a positive thing: a stepping stone to tomorrow. Make the most of this opportunity and give it all you’ve got.”