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Studyology: How to take care of yourself during exams

During exams, what else do you need to do besides studying to succeed?

If you think that studying hard is the only way to do well on your final exams, you're completely wrong. A successful performance on finals depends on a combination of multiple factors which cannot be separated from one another.

Here are seven useful tips for you to consider during your exam preparation.

1. Develop a study plan

A good study plan helps to focus and reduce the stress associated with work overload during the final exam period. Some tips on developing a study plan include creating a written schedule, setting clear and specific goals for each study session, budgetting time realistically and prioritizing study time for each subject based on the amount of time you think you’ll need to prepare for them.

2. Surround yourself with learning

Create a 24-hour learning environment by putting up notes and reminders on visible places at home like mirrors, doors, the fridge and your television. You may also use little drawings and colourful markers to trigger your memory.

3. Exercise regularly

A morning workout before your finals or another study day, even if it's at least a walk, may do you some good. According to a 2010 study, high aerobic fitness levels are associated with superior performance of attentional and interference control, which means that regular sports improve focus and increase the speed of learning.

4. Eat well and stay hydrated

The better the fuel your brain gets, the better you study. Meeting daily vitamin and mineral requirements are essential for your brain to function properly during the day. Also, remember to stay hydrated because water allows many of the chemical reactions in our bodies to take place and therefore keep your body functioning on top form.

5. Avoid hangovers

A bad hangover is probably the worst thing to be suffering from in an exam room. According to a 2003 study, hangovers have a direct effect on memory functioning, specifically on retaining and recalling information. A party right before an exam is not worth forgetting most of what you’ve learned within the last few weeks or days.

6. Avoid stressful people

Resist having a study session with your nervous friend or classmate right before an exam, especially if they complain about all the work they have left to do. Their stress may only add to your stress, and make you doubt your knowledge even if you know that you are prepared.

7. Sleep. Seriously, sleep.

Regular sleep is a must in order to have a refreshed mind during the final exam period. A good night’s sleep optimizes cognitive performance in a very direct way since new knowledge is integrated into our existing knowledge base while we sleep. Seven to eight hours of sleep each day are recommended for optimal performance.