If you are in the northern hemisphere, the sun has reappeared, flowers are blooming, and everywhere everyone is taking advantage of the beautiful weather. Everyone, of course, except for students across the world who are in the midst of dreaded exam season. Exams are an unpleasant but necessary part of the education system and are something that is unfortunately not suited to every learner. However, there are some tips and habits you can adopt to become a more successful exam sitter.


Organize your study space

It is said that a tidy desk is a tidy mind. For some of us this is true, while others thrive on organized chaos. Whatever your optimum space it, have it ready before you begin studying. If that means a clear area with minimal distractions, have a thorough clean up; if it means having all your little gadgets and essential tools spread out just how you like them, make sure you know where everything is.

Work Space

You should also decide where you will be studying. Is there plenty of light? Is it quiet? Or do you prefer light music? Is it comfortable? It is usually best to separate your work space from your resting area – where you watch TV, listen to music, have lunch – so your mind gets used to knowing that when you are there, you need focus.


Use visual aids

When most of your studies involve note-taking and written forms of information, it can be a refreshing and much-needed change to create visual aids to help you. Be as creative as you can; create drawings, mind maps, diagrams, flow charts, whatever works for you. Use many different colors and surround your room with your creations. You can even try hanging some posters in the bathroom, so you can passively absorb information while you’re brushing your teeth and getting ready for the day.

Using accurate colors and layouts of information stimulate different areas of the brain, and can enhance your memorization of the main ideas and formulae. The benefits of visual learning are multiple, and you can read more about it here.

Form a study group

Just because you’re studying, doesn’t mean you have to hole yourself up in a room indefinitely. If you consider yourself a social creature – and don’t most of us? – then use that for inspiration. Find like-minded classmates and form study groups to meet and share ideas. You will be surprised how stimulated your brain will be when you can bounce ideas off other people. They may have extra tips on memorizing and studying too!

Study Group


Use old exams and time yourself

Time to put everything into practice! You can study until your ears turn blue, but it’s not just about what you know, but how you write it down on paper. Exams are a learned technique, so familiarize yourself with the structure and layout of it. Ask your teacher or professor for access to old papers and practice, practice, practice.

Working to a time limit is not always easy, so take yourself away to a quiet place and time yourself like it was a real exam. You will quickly get the hang of it.


Take care of your body, too

Don’t neglect your body just because you are focusing on your brain. When you neglect one, the other suffers. Drink water, gallons of it. Well, 4-6 glasses a day is probably best. Stay away from junk food and eat brain foods like fatty fish, lots of fruits and vegetables, and nuts. Snacking on nuts and berries are great ways of keeping your metabolism up, meaning you can study more efficiently.

Take a Break

Don’t forget to take breaks. No one expects you to be chained to your desk all day, so take a walk in the sunshine. Getting regular exercise and daylight is important – and you have an excuse to take advantage of the nice weather. Schedule breaks with your friends so that you can socialize together. Try not to talk about studying, as this is a chance to give your brain a break.

Last of all, believe in yourself! The power of positive thinking is often underestimated.


About Neil Movold

I am the founder and CEO of InsightNG. I have a career spanning across Canada, Australia, Bermuda and New Zealand. For most of my life, I have been keenly interested in how our human brains function at a cognitive level. When my son Jaden was born with Spina Bifida, my interest in human cognition became more focused, resulting in the creation of InsightNG. My current interests lie in the areas of social learning, open innovation, collective & contextual intelligence, knowledge discovery, findability and content visualization.