So it’s coming up to exam season again. It’s mid-Easter and you really cannot be bothered to make a start. You’re procrastinating. Suddenly E4 is a lot more interesting than you remember. Who knew American television could be so hilarious and diverse?
If you know full well you’re not going to start revising until you come back to Uni and it’s inevitably going to be too late, here are a few tips that might increase your chances of success. I’ve also taken the liberty to try and explain why it works.
Fact: How much you can recall will increase with a good night’s sleep.
Science: There are two parts of your brain called the hippocampus and the cortex. The hippocampus acts as a short-term storage area for new information (your revision notes). The cortex is responsible for deeper levels of learning and storage (the stuff you will remember in your exam). The link is sleep. When you sleep, the hippocampus tells the cortex the important things you’ve learnt that day. The cortex will take it all in and make links with everything else you have learnt and from the same area or other areas of your shosen subject, deepening your understanding of the subject as a whole.
What this means: This does not mean you can learn everything the night before your exam. You need time and experience. The more nights you have to sleep, the deeper your understanding of the work you have done and the higher your chances of success. Don’t complain. I’m advocating sleep. Not too much sleep in one go. That would be silly. Find balance.
Fact: Your subconscious is much more powerful than your conscious.
Science: Your subconscious works hard. Constantly. Even while we are awake. It is also responsible for your understanding.
What this means: Have you ever experienced a ‘click’? You hate a subject. You just don’t get along with it. Suddenly, a month before your exam, it all makes sense! This is your subconscious working whilst you don’t even realise it. So take regular breaks. Take the time to mull things over. Try it.
Diet (which means ‘eat stuff’)
Fact (ish): There are well founded claims that oily fish and plenty of water will improve your concentration.
Science: A wealth of research suggests that the fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 improve concentration and memory. They can even help with depression funnily enough (quite fitting given the looming gloom). Furthermore, even slight levels of dehydration (it is claimed) can have a surprisingly adverse effect upon concentration.
What this means: These are claims. Very well founded claims, but claims all the same. It might work, it might not. It more than likely will. If it doesn’t work, it’s a pretty handy placebo. Start eating some oily fish. Make sure you’re getting enough water. All inclusive bills? Go to town.
Lapse of Time
Fact: We forget things. The more you go back over your notes, the more you will remember.
No science here. We all know it’s true. We just don’t want to admit it.
Make sure you are going over your notes. Don’t just skim. Take the information in again. Open your mind to it. Fight the urge to go play Xbox. Drive that caffiene addiction. You’ll regret it after your exams, but you won’t care. You’ll have a first*.
*This is no guarantee. It just seemed like the right thing to say. Push your ambitions and stuff.