I love a good Google, and my favourite image search is usually “little yellow cars”. I can’t explain why they make me laugh- they just do. My other favourite search (especially at this time of year) is “how to prepare for exams”. Not because I find these tips particularly helpful, I just find them funny too. Funny because so many of these so-called tips are heavy on what to do, but light on how to do it.
Telling a first-time uni student not to panic, to stay positive, set a routine, get organised, and manage your time, is like you telling me to change the oil in a car (yellow, or otherwise). Yes, it’s helpful that you’ve pointed out to me that the oil needs changing, but that doesn’t mean that I have any idea how to do it. I probably wouldn’t get as far as popping the hood before giving up in frustration, and returning the olive oil to the pantry.
To prevent you from giving up in frustration when it comes to preparing for exams, I’ve summarised the most helpful information I’ve found (and tested myself) into a three step process for exam success. Not only am I going to tell you what you can do to prep for exams, but I’ll even go that one step further and tell you how to do it. You’re welcome.
There are many different forms of procrastination. Personally, I always preferred to procrastinate at the keyboard. I’d spend hours internally arguing with myself until I finally sat down to study and then a few more hours chastising myself for all the non-study related web browsing I was doing.
I tried many methods to get around digital procrastination but in the end I found that removing temptation altogether was the only way. StayFocusd is a free extension for the Chrome browser that lets you block access to certain websites at certain times, meaning you can physically limit your ability to procrastinate online.
Facebook too tempting? Block it. Also partial to a little yellow car image search? Not today! And without the deep tangents of the internet to follow, what else is there to do but study, watch mid-day TV, or go and exercise?! Needless to say, by comparison, study suddenly looks really appealing.
The fact you’ve read this far has impressed me, because, to be honest, even I’m drifting in and out, and I wrote it! It’s one thing to master the fine art of blocking internet sites, but what do you do when you’ve been going at it hard for a good 11 minutes, and your mind starts to wander?
You, my friend, need to get your hands on a humble stopwatch. Or the stopwatch app if you’re that way inclined. Using timed intervals, you can learn to curb your short attention span. For example, I used to commit to a 6 hour day of exam revision. As soon as I started studying I would start the stopwatch. At the first sign of waned interest, or in one instance a burning desire to do the laundry, I’d stop the stopwatch, get up, and do something else for a little bit.
Then when the inevitable happened, and the new activity bored me too, I’d go back to studying and resume the stopwatch. Rinse and repeat until that six-hour milestone was reached. I guarantee it will only take a few days of spending 14 hours trying to finish 6 hours of study to frustrate you into productivity.