Exam: 5 preparation strategies and comments from a psychologist

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“How can I learn all this?” – students and school children ask in despair when opening a thick textbook on the eve of the next exam. “How can I stop worrying? What do I do if I can’t remember anything at all?” And the question is really interesting, how to successfully pass the exam and not run out of energy?

During the sessions, the conversion exams, and especially the final exams, the nervous tension covers everyone – both the ones who, in general, ‘re interested in the learning process, and those who delayed getting familiar with the subject until the last moment. But here comes the decisive moment. How to successfully pass the exam? How to organize your life during exams so that you spend this stressful time with maximum benefit for the work, for your health, and, perhaps, with pleasure?

1. During the last day it is necessary to pump yourself with information as much as possible. Short-term memory will hold it and help in the test.

This strategy may be suitable for those who have a mathematical mind, a good memory, and logical thinking. But in general, it is not a very useful strategy. After all, our memory is limited, and it, unfortunately, does not follow our direct instructions.

If you fill your head with new information for 24 hours in a row, you risk overloading your memory, and it will play a cruel joke on the exam. The information that was ” pumped up” at the last moment may not pop up in time. You’ll see the questions, and… you won’t remember anything. Or you’ll start mixing up numbers, dates, formulas.

Besides, to pass the exam, it is very important not to burn out at the start. If a person spent too much energy on the preparation and is fully laid out, he may come to the exam devastated, he simply will not have the strength – neither emotional nor intellectual. Therefore, it is better to study not more than three or four hours a day, and not only to learn new things but also to repeat the information that was learned earlier. If there is too much coursework and you realize you aren’t keeping up, you would better think about who can write my paper instead of me so you don’t get overwhelmed.

2. On the last day before the exam you should not study at all: let your brain “cool down” a bit.

In general, this is not a bad mindset, if we suppose that a person has been studying for a year. And if two or three months ago, fixing some topic, he solved 20-30 same-type tasks, it means that the skill of solving it has already been formed, and there is no need to repeat this topic.

Although there is no sense in the complete cancellation of the lessons, either. Why should you deny yourself the opportunity to read something for a couple of hours before the exam?

3. Before the exam, you can’t be too relaxed. It is necessary to make yourself nervous: in a state of stress, your memory works better and it is easier to concentrate.

Such beliefs often occur as a result of ordinary coincidences: a person was nervous the day before – and suddenly passed the exam brilliantly. And he, noticing this connection, made the wrong conclusion: I did it because I was nervous.

In fact, it was worth noting something else: that this time he was really well prepared. Whether we want it or not, but the stress before the exam will appear against our will, so our task is to reduce it, rather than raise it artificially.

It seems to be easier to concentrate in a state of stress, it’s true. But only short, healthy stress, just work-related excitement, is useful. And during unhealthy, prolonged stress, we feel exhausted and don’t have time to recover. So the examination phase mustn’t match the phase of emotional exhaustion. But this does not mean that it is necessary to take sedatives: they can reduce concentration and slow down mental activity in general.

4. To pass an exam, you have to write handwritten cheat sheets.

It is true, the use of different types of memory helps to absorb information. Sometimes you can even use your musical memory and voice, for example, singing certain formulas or phrases to a simple melody.

Making an answer plan, an outline, drawing diagrams, you structure your knowledge and build associative links between different facts. You shouldn’t think that you can’t remember anything without it, but cheat sheets always help. Because of this feature of the human brain, in schools and universities writing a compare and contrast essay, for example, is a frequent assignment.

5. It is very important to keep omens before an exam.

Our “magical thinking” looks for these kinds of coincidences. The athlete says to himself: I won in this t-shirt, it brings happiness, I will continue to run in it. And that t-shirt becomes a talisman, a part of an important ritual.

Such signs, ritual gestures help to calm and concentrate at the same time, as if they signal our brain: “Everything is all right, you will make it. But the omens only work if you are studying.

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