Exams are just around the corner and many of us are still, unsurprisingly, not prepared for it. Counting down the hours, it’s almost impossible to cram everything in (unless you have a microchip embedded in your brain). So how do you effectively study to ace that test? Fret not, these tips will be your saving grace.




1. Binge Watch YouTube


You heard it right. You may now leech onto Youtube as your personal tutor.  There is a wonderful world of channels out there dedicated to students who are regretting missing all those 8am lectures. Youtube is brimming with videos that break down hard concepts into simple ones, so you don’t have to bang your head against the wall every time you are trying visualise String Theory.

Patrick JMT (for anything Math related) and Khan Academy (for anything from Economics to Physics) are two of our favourite channels! Just don’t venture into the world of cat videos or you’ll be doomed.  Self-discipline people, self-discipline.


2. Find Your Circadian Rhythmhow-to-study-2

Circadian rhythm is just a fancy term for body clock, which determines the time of the day you feel sleepy or awake. Find your circadian rhythm means figuring out the best time of the day to focus, and hence retain information.

So if you are trying your best to mug but are not getting anywhere, go sleep! Really, don’t fight your circadian rhythm, work with it. Scientists say usually your peak focus time will be around 2 hours after you wake anyway. So run, fly, teleport and do whatever you have to do to catch your most productive hours. And don’t waste them!


3. Talk To Yourself



This may sound odd but trust us, it works!  When you talk through important keywords, your brain retains stuff better.  

Highlight keywords and key concepts that you need to memorise. Then, read the keywords out loud at a slower pace. When all is done, give yourself a three minutes break and quiz yourself after.

You’ll be surprised by how much you remember! Next time you see your students mumbling to themselves, you know it’s not because the stress has gotten to them – yet.


4. The KWL Method

If you have spent the rest of your semester procrastinating, then this is probably your last defence. The Know – Want -Learn (KWL ) method will force you to study just the required stuff. A life-saver if you are a last minute mugger.  All you need is your course syllabus, your notes and of course a K-W-L table.


What I know


What I want to know


What I learned

Jot down what you know about the topic.

E.g:  Energy cannot be created or destroyed.

Fill in what you need to know (according to syllabus)

E.g Formula for Kinetic Energy

Answer the W column

E.g Kinetic energy = ½ mv^2

Now read and memorise the stuff in the L column like your life depends on it.


5. Turn Concepts Into Stories


You wouldn’t want to send your brain into overdrive when you try to study complex concepts. Why make your life harder than it already is? What you can do is to remember keywords and then spin them into stories that you can relate to.

For example: ?

A cell is like a prison. The cell wall is similar to the bricks which make up the outside of a prison. It protects and supports the inside of the building, just like how a cell unit would. And just like that, you now understand what a cell wall is better.   


6. Method Of Loci  


The Greeks, Romans, and even Sherlock Holmes used this. So there must be some truth to it. This is all about attaching small bits of concepts to places and things.  

This is how this method works:

  1. Choose and visualise a venue – It may be a building or a road. Look around the area and familiarise yourself with the details of the place.
  2. Walk around the area and mentally connect an image you see with a manageable amount of information. For example, maybe the red chair in your the room is connected to a mathematical equation. Every time you pass that chair, you will be reminded about that math equation.
  3. During your exam, simply retrace your steps in the venue you chose and pick out the object that you tie the information to.

7. Clench Your Fists


No, not to punch the person next to you to release your pre-exam stress. What you can do is to remember those notes is to simply clench your fists. Too good to be true? It has been proven that clenching your fists activate the side of the brain that  handles the function to recall a memory.

So if you’re a right-hander:

Clench your right fist when you for 45 seconds and then memorise what you need. When you’re done,  clench your left  fist for 45 seconds and recall what you previously learned. (Vice versa for Lefties)

Clenching your fist can really pay off!

8.  52/17 Rule


Remember these magic numbers, it will make you the most productive version of yourself.  Science says that it’s best to work for 52 minutes at a time, followed by a break for 17 minutes, before getting back to it. And who are we to defy Science, right?

If you are really left all your revision to the last possible minute, you power through 90 minutes of work and take a 10-minute break after. Just don’t try to be a superhero and study through the entire day without breaks!

Time to prep for the test and do your best. Good luck!

Fira Hashim
Fira Hashim
I turn beet red when I laugh too hard and I'm quite the dreamer who writes A LOT.
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