Have the study blues made their way to you? There’s no reason they have to stay. This week the Mirror Magazine spoke to some students and teachers about their best study tips, and we’ve also found some handy apps and tools for you. So go on, dust off those books and get your highlighters out-you [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Tips to acing exams


Have the study blues made their way to you? There’s no reason they have to stay. This week the Mirror Magazine spoke to some students and teachers about their best study tips, and we’ve also found some handy apps and tools for you. So go on, dust off those books and get your highlighters out-you have no excuses now. All the best to everyone sitting for their exams over the next few months.

Techniques to plan your study schedule

The Pomodro Technique
The Pomodro technique involves studying in 25 minute intervals with a five minute break in between. Once you’ve put in 100 minutes (four 25 minute sessions) you could take a 10-15 minute break and return refreshed.

Power Hour Technique
This is a fairly simple method that advocates getting in your study hours during the time of day you feel most productive and devoting the rest of your time to other matters.

What students had to say on studying
Mustafa Juzer (22)
Mustafa finds classical music to be a great way to tune out other distractions and concentrate on his work. He’s also a big believer in changing up your study venue, and advises studying in different groups to break up the monotony.

Laksheta Moorjani (21)
Laksheta sets little rewards for herself, so that when she meets her study goal for the day she can indulge in “a piece of chocolate cake, a movie or an episode of Gotham or Big Bang”.

Sam Cabral (21)
“I can’t say I have any specific tips but I do like to compartmentalize my time into specific times and plan out my study hours very precisely, with breaks included. I stay as realistic as I possibly can and allocate extra time to catch up if I’ve not managed to finish a quota I expected to finish by a certain time.”

Study Apps/Websites to keep you on track
Study Blue-www.studyblue.com
Cold Turkey (for when you want to work online, but keep a handle on distractions)-www.getcoldturkey.com

Avishka Mendis (21)
“I think it’s just important to get a good rhythm going. The first hour is the hardest, but once you get through that you can go on for a pretty long time without stopping. It’s also key to understand yourself…you may need background noise or you might not, you might like movement in your surroundings or you might not, music might get you to focus or it might distract you. You know what works for you, so you can set the environment based on that.”

Kaushika Jayalath(22)
“In my experience, the bed and the laptop are mortal enemies to someone trying to study and so is the phone-all three things should preferably be somewhere beyond your reach.  I also don’t think it’s a good idea to study at the same time every day. If you’re not motivated, you’re not motivated. It’s as simple as that-sitting in the same place every day to make yourself feel better and feel like you studied does absolutely nothing. When I studied, it was at random times-no real plan as such, apart from making it a point to study at least one session a day.

Don’t put a subject off forever because you will need to face the music another day for sure! Highlighters, rulers, coloured pens… all this is absolute greek to most boys-including myself! my notes were messy and my books were in tatters but I made sure of one thing no matter what and that was to have complete notes. Studying with partial notes is like rice without curry.

What the teachers had to say on studying
Chehara Amaratunga
A lecturer in Economics, Ms Amaratunga feels that the best way to study is to make short notes-which will help you concentrate better- and to revise those notes whenever you have time. It’s not enough to just study theory- “it’s also important to apply what you learn as you would at an exam.” Summarize each chapter of a subject into one sheet, she advises, so on the day of the exam you have a small set of papers that you can use to quickly revise.

Dilon Anthonys
A lecturer for Commerce stream students, Mr Anthonys knows a thing or two about passing exams. He shared with us some tips to establish a study schedule for yourself, and what he looks for in an answer.

The strategy;
1. For many studying is not the issue but getting started is. If you can start, you can continue. So first sit at your studying table and do something without postponing till tomorrow-if not this will never start.

2. Start by studying for 10 minutes a day per subject and gradually increase by multiples of 10 minutes each. This works out really well psychologically since you feel it’s not that much.

3. Studying times of the day may vary from person to person. Select theory subjects during fresh times while mathematical or calculation based questions should be attempted during boring or sleepy times.

4. Get the materials organized properly and follow a structure.

5. Don’t rack up arrears saying ‘I will make up for today’s time by tomorrow’. This never works.

6. Get rid of all distractions such as phone, TV, iPod etc from the table since it will divert your valuable focus.
7. Prepare a study plan or lesson schedule and work on that where once a particular item is completed, you can tick the check box.

8. Continuously review yourself to see where you stand right now and what needs to be done to improve.

9. Summarize your study content for revision one week later and then once in at least every 2 weeks.

Points that lecturers
may look for in answer
1. Clear handwriting. Bad handwriting will upset the mood of the marker into negativity where scoring marks are pretty tough.

2. Provide what the question wants directly. There is no need for a long description as to why it is a question. The examiner already knows this and he wants your answer, not a background investigation.

3. Write points if points are asked for such factors, advantages and disadvantages. If an explanation is needed, always better to start with a good definition of 2-3 lines. You may add points in between paragraphs.

4. Answers must be justified by arguable facts and suitable examples where ever possible.

5. Answers must be simple and on the dot. Writing bluff at a professional level won’t work, so don’t waste time and space. To prevent this, structure your answer as needed for marks and not for writing everything that pops into your mind.

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