How to study for a university exam – 10 useful tips

How many times have you sat down at your desk, full of good intentions, with our beautiful book in front of you to study and then inevitably think of something else? I think a lot!! The problem is that we are not always able to concentrate and the minutes pass (it seems little to us, but in reality…!). And in summary, summing up, we have less and less time left to devote to the university exam we are preparing for !

So today I would like to give you a simple guide with some useful suggestions to face university exams as serenely as possible, without stressing yourself too much and……without dramatising!

1. Make a “calendar” of the exams to be taken

The first rule to follow is….. organize your work ! Before the session begins, try to check all the dates of the exams you want to take and try to build a sort of personal “calendar” of the exams, in order to match the dates in the best possible way. This way you will be able to organize yourself better according to your commitments and the amount of study to be faced, also calculating the breaks between one exam and another! Also keep in mind that, after an exam, it is advisable to let your brain rest for a couple of days!

2. Study material

After organizing the dates, you will obviously have to start getting the material you need for all the subjects of study , i.e. textbooks, notes and various handouts. I always advise you to consult the course program on the university or professor’s website, without listening to rumors! It would also be advisable to immediately obtain all the material to study for all the exams you plan to take.

3. Reading

Now you will have to “arm yourself” with a pencil, eraser, highlighter and, possibly, pens of various colors . Start reading. It’s always a good habit to start underlining to start eliminating the wordy parts of the book or the less important ones. A method that I advise you to adopt is to use various colors, because it will help your photographic memory a lot . Use different colors for different elements: for example, the most important parts to underline with the red pen, the less relevant ones, but still possible subjects of some questions, with the blue… and so on. You can also circle keywords and write a title beside the paragraphthat brings to mind the subject immediately. Although this work will require a lot of patience, it will be very useful when you start repeating.

4. Summaries and diagrams

After reading the entire book, you can start writing short summaries or outlines of the topics covered. In any case, I do not advise you to write much ! For two main reasons: it could tire you too much and it will waste a lot of time. However, for some subjects it will not be possible to write “2 words”! In general, however, I recommend organizing summaries like this: for the most important parts, the abstract will be needed; but for the less important subjects, it would be more appropriate to make an outline. That is a kind of concept map that summarizes what you have just read and based on definitions, important concepts and keywords. Again, I recommend using different colors.

5. Start repeating

After reading, summaries and outlines, the important moment of repetition will have arrived. At this stage, you have to reread everything and repeat. And I advise you to do it “chapter by chapter” or, if necessary, even paragraph by paragraph! The important thing will be to have a clear understanding of the ideas to be presented during the exam. Repetition is the most important phase of study : you will fix the concepts in your mind and you will really start to understand them. At the beginning you can also repeat alone: ​​but, as the exam approaches, it would be more appropriate and stimulating to repeat with a colleague, to compare your knowledge and improve each other’s gaps. The morning would be the best time, because the mind is more “fresh”.

6. Small food “helpers”.

To keep concentration high and stay awake it is also advisable to ingest certain foods: red bull, coffee, vitamins, etc.! For concentration purposes, ginseng  in the form of natural pills that can be purchased in pharmacies or supermarkets is also useful, which also help to stay awake. Alternatively, acutyl phosphorus : a natural drug, based on phosphorus, to help concentration. Do n’t take them all together : otherwise you risk a heart attack!!

7. Take a break

Always remember that the brain, from time to time, will need to unplug ! Study “marathons”….not ideal! Take a break from time to time. Go out with friends or go for a walk. The ideal would also be sport: at the end of the day, a little jogging or a couple of hours in the gym will help you release all the stress and repressed anger!

8. Study environment

Changing your usual place of study could have positive effects for you, because it stimulates creativity and ingenuity. Always staying within the four walls of your room will soon bore you and make you feel even more frustrated. Instead, go to the library or study room with your colleagues to study: this way, you will also be forced to be silent and seated! You won’t be distracted every now and then, perhaps by opening Facebook or the like, or wandering around the house and occasionally opening the fridge out of boredom! A different place, stimulates creativity!

9. Consult university note sites

To help you in your study, you can also consult notes from other students who have taken the exam before you. There are several sites where students share their notes and also exam questions in order to help their colleagues! Many times, they are a real salvation! In this regard, I recommend Docsity or Universando, two very well done communities where you can find lots of quality handouts divided by subject. Going to the home of these sites you can choose the faculty you belong to and select the exam subject or the name of the professor.

10. …..and the day of the exam arrived!

The fateful day has arrived! How to present yourself for the exam? First of all, you have to think that you are in a University. Image is also important! You certainly can’t show up in shorts, a tank top and flip flops! Even the way you dress is important, because it’s like your business card for a person who…doesn’t know you! So, try to maintain a sober and calm style: never show up disheveled or with dark circles down to your knees! You must appear self-confident! Don’t show the professor you’re scared! smile!

If you have studied, you will have nothing to fear. Keep calm! Only after graduation, will you understand that an exam is nothing more than… an interview! And you will laugh thinking about all the anxieties and frustrations that have haunted you in your student career!

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