Three common study complaints solved… with a little help from Peer Learning Advisors

We’ve all been there: Heart rate rising, palms sweating, a growing sense of dread about that looming exam date.

The good thing about this experience is that those who’ve gone before us – and survived! – have learnt some important lessons to pass on.

That’s why we took some of the most common exam concerns straight to the experts: Peer Learning Advisors who’ve conquered exam nerves to achieve excellent results.

Their tips range from crafting a detailed study timetable, to sticking notes on your bathroom mirror to even watching YouTube song parodies (yes, seriously!)

We hope their advice can help calm you and guide you over the next few weeks. In fact, they had so many great pieces of help, check back in next week for more!

Concern #1: ‘I might’ve put more effort into partying than preparing for exams this Semester… so now I’m absolutely freaking out! Is it too late to salvage a good result?’

PLA tip: “It is not too late to salvage a good result. It is great that you were giving your brain a break from studies during the semester and socialising, but now it is time to put that on hold and give your brain a workout. If you consistently study during this period that you have left, you can definitely achieve a lot. This takes some determination and self-restriction and awareness. Start planning what you need to know, what you need to do and break it down in a timetable.” 

PLA tip: “No, it’s not. If your lecturer has given you topics that will be on exam, go over those topics and do practice questions on those. If the exam is on anything, take a deep breath, relax and do the following: Practice exams/questions to identify what you know and don’t know. Once you have an idea on what your weakest topics are, go over that content. Don’t go over content you are already confident in and good at, it allows for a false sense of security and you cannot better your results by going over topics you already know.”

Concern #2: ‘I’ve got four subjects – AND FOUR EXAMS!!! How do I prepare for all of them, making sure I don’t leave anything out?’

PLA advice: “That is rough, especially if they are all close together. My advice, summarise each week of semester into a format and language you understand.  Time management is important. Focus your studies on areas you are unsure of. Most importantly, don’t panic. If you have put in the hours during semester trust yourself in the exam, you will be ok.” 

PLA advice: “Ensure that you are touching on each subject at least once a day, even if it is just for 10 minutes. This way you are reinforcing your knowledge and not just purely focusing on the next subject that you have coming up. It can be easy to fall into the trap of just studying for each exam as it comes along, but with my inability to cram, I find chipping away at each subject each day very helpful. Make sure you have a timetabled plan of each day and what subjects or topics you would like to cover! That seems to help me. 

PLA advice: “Make yourself a study timetable. Adjust your time so that you give more time to subjects and topics you have less of a grasp on. If your exams are close together, stick to the timetable, it may be tempting working only on the exam you have due first but that cause issues if you have two exams a day apart.”

Concern #3: ‘There’s so many things to remember: formulas, equations, dates, terminology: any tricks of the trade to help those things sink in?’

PLA advice: “For me I find it easier to remember pictures so I concentrate on visualising a graph or table. Acronyms also help for a set of words. As soon as I am allowed to write in the exam I data dump all the information in my head onto the question sheet and then use that information as I go through.”

PLA advice: “Try making up acronyms or songs or catchy phrases that can help you learn. I like to sing my notes aloud at home because it tends to stick better and stops me from falling asleep! Chip away at it all slowly, try your best to avoid cramming.”

PLA advice: “Use Mnemonics (rhymes, songs or acronyms). If you create them you will find it so much easier to memorise information. One thing I have done is watched YouTube parody songs on topics that get stuck in your head. I do this and sing it in my head when I know the song goes over a question I need to answer in the exam.”