The term ‘exam stress’ seems a glib and understated phrase to use for the pressures students everywhere are facing as they deal with exams. For generations so far removed from what today’s students go through, it simply doesn’t encompass the real troubles students can experience at this time. From that little knot in the stomach, to sleepless nights and real depression, exams can sometimes seriously affect the mental health of students.
Here’s how to put your worries aside and embrace the exam period as best you can.
The last thing you want to do when the sun is shining, and the weather is glorious, is hunker down and bury yourself in some study books. Surveys among students often show that motivation to get started is one of the biggest problems. It can quickly lead to anxiety and stress; that cloud of dread follows you around, getting bigger and bigger the longer you put off studying.
Chances are, a lot of your friends and classmates will be in the same boat. Creating study groups is a great way to motivate each other, and also a great way of studying. If somebody struggles with one thing, another may have a good solution.
How to study
Maybe studying with others doesn’t work for you, or maybe it just turns into a social gathering with little work getting done. Figure out what works best for you. Not everyone is academically minded, and more hours doesn’t always mean more studying.
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.
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.
Virtual reality is a concept that seems a million miles away from being a part of our everyday life. For starters, what will it cost, and will that cost be reasonable for the average person? Underling steps have been taken in the world of gaming, but the predictions for the uses of virtual reality are far-reaching, with a scope of education, tourism, and physical or mental disorders.
With the arrival of introductory virtual reality such as Google Cardboard and Oculus, we are starting to see just how addictive and in-depth this new technology could be. But how can it benefit you in your everyday life?
Furthering your imagination
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you fall, and you are jolted awake by the sensation? This is called a hypnic jerk, and it happens because the brain thinks it is real, despite it being merely a visual sensation. The same devices are in play when you engage in virtual reality experiences. Pair that with surround sound and smell, and you can be forgiven for thinking what you’re experiencing is 100% real.
Virtual reality explores places your imagination cannot. As VR companies are developing technologies that engage more of the senses, entering into a VR world will become more and more real to the person in it. Watching nature documentaries will turn into being in nature; roaming amongst wild animals, inhaling the aroma of nearby plants and hearing sounds of life from every angle. What you will take away from these experiences will be so much greater as your mind was tricked into thinking you were really present. Your memory of the events will increase, as well as your empathy, understanding, and certainly heart rate!
Many scientists argue that using avatars in a virtual world can aid in cases of low self-esteem and even certain personality traits. If you spend time using an avatar that you have chosen to be attractive, you may act with more confidence in the VR world. If you choose an avatar that is younger than yourself, you may find yourself acting in a more youthful and energetic manner. These traits can be carried on in your normal life, and some scientists believe that this technology can extend to the treatment of depression.
With a wealth of information at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know how to sift through everything. Yes, we have everything we need to learn, but the question is how do we learn it? Revision and studying can often be hindered as much as helped by technology; it can be distracting and can make it more difficult for our memories to work to their full capacity. However, technology is continually developing to aid study and revision, and we have compiled a list of the top 5 apps that will help you master your Masters (and other studies).
1. Dragon Dictation
Although this app can be used for anything from updating a Facebook status, to shooting off a quick email, Dragon Dictation can be extremely useful for studying. Using fast speech-to-text software, this app will type while you talk. Maybe you had a quick thought you want to jot down, or after hours of studying, your wrists need a break. You can use it however you want, whenever you want, and you will save bags of time.
A huge upside of speaking your notes is not only speed but memory retention. A lot of studies show that by reading or saying something aloud, you are creating a ‘distinctive memory.’ This means that you are digesting the information twice; once as you read it, and a second time as you say it aloud, making it more concrete as a memory. The drawback of Dragon Dictation is that it is only available on iOS devices.
We live in an age where we have access to more information than ever before. This, however, comes with its own problems, as our ability to remember, organize, and connect these masses of information is dwindling. Visual thinking is not a new process, but with today’s hectic lifestyle it is certainly becoming clear how efficient it can be. You may not be a visual learner or artist, but you certainly don’t need to be either to reap the benefits of visual thinking.
Generating and linking ideas
Visual thinking can help you discover links between your ideas, and even generate new ones with ease and speed. When there is too much information inside your head, it can be incredibly difficult to focus on just one at a time. Being able to map out and see your ideas in front of you means you can see each piece of information separately and together at the same time like you can on an actual map. You can then begin to bridge the gaps and connect ideas, as well as generate new ones with ease and speed.