The basics
Study abroad : Before you leave

The alternative list of study methods

Try these alternative study tips for your exams...

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We are all different in how we learn; some of us can effortlessly sit down and memorise text, while others respond better to more interactive methods. There are numerous other factors to consider as well, including atmosphere and even our own bodies.

 

Finding the method which works for you can take time – so it’s a good thing you have three or four years of studying to perfect this. Long before you have to sit exams, get used to revising your notes on a weekly basis so you’re already used to sitting down to study –  this way it won’t seem alien to you come exam period. It also gives you ample time to experiment with some of the alternative study methods we suggest below:

 

Become a vampire

Some find that sitting at a desk all day, and watching the sun pass through the sky can make them feel like they have accomplished very little. It doesn’t help if it’s particularly nice weather outside, as is the case during exam periods in Spring/Summer; the last thing you would want to do is sit inside missing out on all the fun.

 

If you have an extended period of uninterrupted study, like a study week, reverse your sleeping habits. Nights can be quieter, and some find after they’ve had a good meal, they instantly have more energy. Also, by becoming a bit of a recluse and studying alone at night, you’re less likely to compare yourself to others and worry you’re not doing enough.

 

Another tip is to shut yourself in as soon as you wake up. If you wake up early because you’re stressing about exams, do something about it! Keep what you need to study close to your bed, with tabs open on your laptop or device to start straight away. Many find that showering, getting changed and making something to eat builds up too much anticipation to study – you overhype it in your head, and it appears more daunting. You may discover that if you revise as soon as you wake up, even just for a short amount of time, that you are a morning person after all.

 

 

Diversify your music playlist

One of the qualities which put people off the library is the eerie silence – you’re just waiting for something to break the tension, and time can feel like it is passing incredibly slowly. Music can help this; though the heavy metal anthems or thumping drums you’re accustomed to might not facilitate learning. You may also want to put the podcasts filled with back-and-forth chatter, on hold too.

 

Instrumental music, such as movie scores can stimulate the brain in positive ways. Personally, we would recommend The Social Network score – moody, and not too distracting either. Other options can include rap or hip hop, as the beats and tempo are energetic enough to get you typing (though again, mind lyrics which may distract you).

 

Try and find a regular playlist; if you keep listening to new material, you’ll find yourself more interested in discovering this new music, then what you’re working on. Also, experiment with the volume you listen at; you may only need something just audible enough to break the silence in the room.

 

 

Incentivise

Experiment with how you reward yourself for hard work. When you’re stressed and have exams coming up, the small things make the world of difference. Someone feel like they need a reward beforehand, to guilt themselves into working harder later (though be careful as this can be dangerous if you keep rewarding yourself over and over). If you know when exams will be taking place, arrange a trip or a small holiday just before you need to start studying; it will relax you before this stressful period begins (depending on where you choose to go).

Others work better with something to look forward to once they’ve finished studying for a day, like settling down to an episode of a TV show (preferably something short in length). Again, like with music, pick a television series that you have already seen; this ay, you’re less likely to keeping watching than if you were left on a cliffhanger by a show you haven't seen the ending to.

 

 

Return to pen and paper

Sticking to the more traditional methods of pen and paper, means you won’t be tempted to browse other sites online, which have nothing to do with studying. We’re looking at you Facebook and Reddit, though there are many perpetrators which encourage procrastination. We don’t always realise how plugged in we are to new information coming in so regularly; and to stay relevant or “in the know” we feel we have to reply, respond or comment immediately. Use this time to remove yourself from technology’s grip.

 

If you want to go a step further, you can deactivate your social network accounts temporarily; or if you trust your friend, ask them to change your password, and only give it back to you when your exams are finished.

 

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About Author

Need help studying for an exam?

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.