Exam Study Buddy: 5 Top Tips to Take on Those Tests

Exam season is upon us, along with all the anxiety, stress, excitement and dread – for both students and their parents! But with careful preparation and sensible management, exam season need not become an untameable beast. Rather, this time can be used to help students achieve the marks that they’re chasing, as well as equip them with valuable skills and lessons that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. 

With this in mind, here are our 5 top tips for the exam study season: 

#1 Make use of the online resources available to you 

School-goers of today have the advantage of a new study buddy – the internet; where you can find a wealth of educational resources.

  • For matrics, the National Senior Certificate timetable can be found online on the Department of Education’s website
  • Practising actual exam papers from previous years will give you a good idea of the kind of questions you can expect in this year’s papers. MyComLink offers a number of past papers across different Grades and subjects. These can be found on the MyComLink website
  • SABC Education provides free-for-download resources, games and programmes to help you familiarise yourself with the study material. 

#2 Rally the troops

Studying complex material on your own can be challenging, so why not create a study group with some friends and classmates to complement your self-study efforts? Not only will you be able to figure out problems together, but this will also bring some variation to your study routine. 

If you are disciplined enough not to get distracted by idle chatter, start a WhatsApp group to clarify information, work through problems, and test one another’s understanding of the material. 

#3 Take regular breaks

Contrary to what you may think, studying for hours on end is not always productive. Taking frequent ‘brain breaks’ has been shown to have a positive effect on long-term knowledge retention. 

So, how often should you take a break? The truth is that everyone (and every day!) is different, so you’ll need to develop a routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, try to make the most of your morning time, and vice versa. 

Generally speaking, getting up and taking a short break every 45 minutes is recommended, with longer breaks interspersed every few hours. 

When you take a break, don’t just sit on your phone for a few minutes – walk around, go outside and get some Vitamin D, do a few jumping jacks or push-ups; anything that gets you moving and away from your desk.

#4 Use diagrams, anagrams and flow-charts 

Visual aids can be helpful when revising and remembering information in the actual exam. Using flow-charts, pictures and diagrams is a way of condensing and connecting key points of your study material. You can then go into more detail for each of these key points in your study notes. During the exam, picturing what you have written down can help you quickly recall everything you need to know about a certain topic. 

#5 Look after your body

Exams are a stressful time, which can take a toll on your body. Oftentimes we forget that our brain is actually part of our body – a healthy body and a healthy mind are one in the same. Looking after your body means that your brain will be able to think and perform better. 

  • Get some exercise – anything goes! Walk, run, dance, swim; just make sure that you get a bit of physical activity every day. 
  • Eat healthily – what you eat can have a major impact on your energy levels and focus, so stay away from junk food and choose wholesome, nutritious foods. 
  • Brain boosting foods to include: nuts, fish, blueberries, yoghurt, eggs, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate. 
  • Eat a good meal before your exam – choose foods that will provide a slow release of energy. Although sugary foods may seem appealing, these can cause your energy levels to crash later.
  • Stay hydrated – drink enough water throughout the day to ensure that your brain is working at its best. 
  • Get enough sleep – resist the urge to cram. Often, you’re better off getting enough sleep and approaching your exams with a fresh mind is far more effective than pulling an ‘all-nighter’. 

Good luck! 

We hope that these tips help you to go into your exams confident in the knowledge that you have studied to the best of your ability! 


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