If you’ve left exam prep just a little too late, this is the blog for you. I am definitely guilty of waiting until 11 pm the night before to start work, and then promising myself to NEVER wait that long again… only to do it all again for the next assignment (and the next… and the next). These are the steps I use to ensure I get all my key studying done on time, no matter how much procrastination was involved.
I use Notion to set out every single task because I can tag my classes by type, and sort by task difficulty – but good old handwritten lists work a charm too! It may feel a bit overwhelming at first, but once I can see everything I need to do the procrastination-panic goes away! Writing everything out also ensures that you don’t miss a key task. An addition I like to make to my plans is to record how long you expect each task to take, and how long you’re willing to spend on it. For example, I might say that I expect to spend 30 minutes memorising flashcards, but if it takes more than 45 I will just move on to the next task.
- Set Goals
Depending on how late you’ve left your study/assignment/project, it may not be feasible to aim for an A+ or to expect every single task to be completed. Set goals that are realistic but still provide a challenge – this way, you can be motivated to finish but won’t be disappointed. You can also set goals for how much work you want to get done in one day – maybe you want to finish two classes worth of lectures, or three sets of flashcards. Again, don’t set unrealistic standards – you can’t study for 17 hours!
- Watch your classes
This tip is mostly for exam study, but can also apply if you have an assignment due and don’t know where to start. Identify the relevant lectures or classes, and set aside time to watch them. Even if you’re doing it on 1.5x or 2x speed, it can be incredibly helpful to just immerse yourself in the lesson and focus entirely on understanding.
- Make notes
This is less of a ‘help-I’m-out-of-time’ trick and more of a ‘how-not-to-get-so-behind-in-the-first-place’ trick. Making notes during (or after) lessons is super helpful for when it comes time to revise content. Use headings, keys, colours, text boxes, pictures – whatever you need to help you understand the content. You will need these to study from, so make sure they’re clear and concise. I like to revise the previous week’s notes on the weekend! If you didn’t make any during the semester, don’t fret – get up to three sets of notes from your classmates, and spend some time consolidating them all into one set. It may not be quite as comprehensive as writing them yourself, but at least you’ll have some.
- Know your course outline
This might seem too basic, but is easily overlooked when panicking and exam stress sets in. Usually, this is given to you at the start of the year or semester – but, if it’s not, you can identify individual topics and set up your notes this way. Doing this is a great way to mentally organise your classes, as well as a way for you to see how much you may need to catch up on.
Once you have your notes, you’re going to need to learn them (obviously). There are many ways to do this, all of which come under the umbrella of ‘reviewing’ – I have heaps of videos about this on TikTok, so if you’re not quite sure where to start, I would recommend heading there. Depending on your learning style, reading/highlighting, writing from memory, condensing 3x, and spaced repetition can be super useful.
If you’re sitting a closed book exam, this step is pretty much the key to everything. Spaced repetition is perfect for memorising dates, quotes, definitions, terms etc. and is pretty easy to do. Sites like Anki, Quizlet or Memrise are great digital options, or you can practice typing (or writing by hand) them out by memory. If you’ve got heaps of time, do this after three days and then weekly – if not, do it as much as you can the day before, and revise the day of your exam.
- Practice papers
Looking at past questions and familiarising yourself (as much as possible) with exam/test conditions is absolutely necessary, no matter how much time you have left to prepare. I honestly cannot stress enough how great doing practice papers is – if you do it right, it can take you from a C to an A.
- Follow content creators that motivate you
There are hundreds (probably thousands) of YouTubers, Bloggers, Instagram creators, and TikTokers that create awesome student-focused content to help motivate you and give you ideas + inspiration for your own study ventures. Following their school or uni journey can motivate you to work hard and achieve your goals – they may even give you some ideas about what you want to do in the future!
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See the TikTok
All of my blogs are inspired by questions asked by my community on TikTok. See the inspiration for this blog by clicking on the link below.
Procrastination Pitfalls for Students (and How to Avoid Them)
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6 Memorisation Secrets Only A+ Students Use
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3 Best Online Resources for Memorisation
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