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unusual ways to prepare for exams

College and University students feel a massive amount of pressure when it comes to exams, and why shouldn’t they when they have spent years studying for them. Preparing for exams and being a good test taker is all part of getting your qualification, so here are nine unusual but effective ways to prepare for your exams.

1 – Get Into A Sleep Pattern Two Months Before Your Exams

The last thing you want is to start missing sleep to the point where you are groggy when you are doing your exams. Do not rely on caffeine because caffeine can wear off as quickly as 40 minutes later, and the caffeine crash you experience (your recovery phase) may make you very tired to the point of sleepiness.

The trouble is that the worry exams generate tends to convinces students that staying up and studying is a good idea. Other students convince themselves that they are not as tired as they think they are. You must get into a regular sleep pattern, but it takes up to two months before your body adapts and you are able to sleep consistently at the same time and for the same number of hours. That is why you need to start getting into your sleep pattern two months in advance.

2 – Practice With Mock Tests…And Do It A Lot

It has been proven that IQ tests are bunk because somebody can study IQ test answers for a full year and increase their score over the course of time because of it. Practicing actual test questions with exam papers is one way of beating the system. The sheer number of times that old test questions are repeated in new exam papers is astonishing, and it is partly because some questions required by the curriculum and there are only so many ways you can reword the same questions.

Grab a few mock tests off the Internet, either legitimately (because many assessors publish old tests online) or illegitimately by downloading tests that students/professors have scanned into the Internet. Some students download and print off exam papers so that they may run mock tests in their dorm rooms. One good idea is to complete the test in pencil so that you may mark the paper and erase what you have written, so that you may try it again later. In addition, if you learn how to use marking guides, you become a better test taker because you learn to understand what is expected.

3 – Link Memorized Items With Visual Mental Images

Sometimes, your brain knows the answer, but you just can’t get it out of your mind without prompting. A great example is when you sing along to all the words in a song, but when the song isn’t playing you are unable to sing. Create a prompt for yourself with visual mental images. Let’s say that you have memorized Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” listed below, but you need a visual prompt—here is how it is done.

“1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

“2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”

“3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.”

Your visual image could be, “A Robot dancing over a baby in order to avoid bullets.” Your interpretation: The robot dances without harming the baby, it is obeying orders to protect the baby, and by dancing it avoid harm to itself. Seems like a stretch right? But try it, you will be surprised how well such absurd visual prompts help. Make the visual image as absurd as you can because you will more easily remember absurd visual images.

4 – Learn How To Note Brainstorms At The Beginning Of Each Test Answer

Brainstorming ideas for each test answer is normal, but it is wasted effort if you do not know how to make notes on your ideas. Exams often come with pieces of scrap paper so that you may make quick notes as you make your way through your test.

There are many ways to make quick notes, and the emphasis really has to be on “Quick” because you need to grab and keep those ideas as they come and they usually come very quickly. Think of brainstorming notes the same as planning a short essay.

Some people are able to make one word or two word notes about their ideas and then come back to them and know exactly what they mean. Others have to make more detailed notes, and those are the people who forget one thing as they note down another.

Actually practice making brainstorming notes. They do not have to make sense to anybody but you. Each note needs to be concise to the point where it won’t make sense to other people. Practice your own version of shorthand. Instead of writing “and,” just write a “+”, and instead of writing “The”, just write “T.” Here is a quick example using Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” from earlier.

(1) No harm humans

(2) Follow orders – no conflict 1

(3) Protect self – no conflict 1 + 2

5 – Break Bad Habits Such As Rewarding And Punishing Yourself When Studying

Rewarding and punishing yourself when you are studying is foolish because it doesn’t work. It actually makes you more apprehensive about studying. It turns a seemingly boring task into an ordeal, and it can get you into some very negative habits.

6 – Stop Multitasking You Darn Fool

People have trouble remembering things if they multitask. Memory is a function of concentration, which means you will forget more easily when you multi-task. Test the theory if you don’t believe that multitasking is bad for memory, such as by skipping from one textbook module to the next when studying. You may have initial short-term success, but you will have trouble recalling the information over a longer period of time.

7 – Set Your Raw Data To A Song

Do you still use the alphabet song when you are trying to figure out which letter comes next? Don’t worry, a massive percentage of the population does too. Nevertheless, you cannot deny the power of a song when linked with memory because the alphabet song is cast-iron proof.

8 – Get Emotional About It

Negative and positive emotion seems to carve events into our heads, which isn’t great if the emotion is disgust. The emotional link created by disgust is why it takes longer for us to forget disgusting things.

Try to link to positive or benign emotions rather than linking to negative emotions. Find an emotional link to the most difficult concepts you are learning about. Have you noticed how people learning about an illness will learn more diligently if they have been affected by it in some way? Just ask anybody who is studying a biomedical science course regarding cancer.

Here is an example to get you started. Think of the sexiest person you can think of, and imagine that person scantily clad. Dressed, but dressed provocatively. Imagine that person in the room right now giving you a short lecture on the thing you are trying to remember. For example, if we take the Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” from earlier, try to imagine that person sensitively and seductively explaining each law in a slow and sensual voice. Pretty unforgettable…right? Again, keep it positive, or the act itself can become an unwelcome distraction, especially if it brings back bad memories.

9 – Unlearn How To Answer With A Time Limit

A lot of test anxiety is directly linked with the fact that there is a timer during exams. You need to unlearn how to answer questions with a time limit. Practice with mock exams, but do not record the time. Once you remove the “rush” element that a timer brings into it, you will be more easily able to organize your thoughts in a meaningful way.