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Four study hacks before your next exam

  1. Know your brain. It’s super important to understand what sort of learner you are. All our brains are wired differently so it’s vital you know now whether you’re a visual learner, an audible learner or a kinaesthetic learner and what mixture works best for you. I didn’t properly realise until my 2nd year of university that I needed a mixture of kinaesthetic activities such practice questions and discussion groups alongside clearly structured and coded visual aids in order to get the most out of my study. As much as my lecturers wanted me to, I simply got nothing out of sitting in a lecture theatre or watching my computer for 3 hours straight as key words exited my left ear as soon as they entered my right. The moment I realised my time was better spent learning the way I liked was the moment my degree stopped being a chore and started becoming a manageable part of my life.
  2. Portion-controlled caffeine. We’ve all got a friend who took too many No-Doz the day before an exam and ended up an exhausted, dishevelled, zombie-like shell of their former selves. Not so chill. Whilst Caffeine and B vitamins can absolutely help promote focus, alertness and concentration, it’s important to manage your intake throughout the day so you don’t get hit by unproductive jitters, crashes and disturbed sleep. Everyone’s caffeine sensitivity is different, so it’s helpful to start low and slowly increase the amount you take until you find the right level at the right time for you. The way I manage my caffeine intake is generally with a coffee in the morning, a Zuum after lunch followed by a couple as needed to get me through the afternoon. Unless I’m partying or pulling an all-nighter, I generally avoid caffeine after around 6pm to ensure a good quality of sleep.
  3. Break your task into smaller goals. Thanks to the wonders of Tik Tok’s algorithm, YouTube’s rabbit-holes and our parents giving us iPad’s too young, we all have little dopamine-addicted brains. Whilst it’s important to break this cycle, it can also be useful to acknowledge its pitfalls and its advantages. Your brain craves little wins and the accompanying ping of dopamine, so let it have it. Break down your daily study goals into, smaller, more achievable tasks that require short to medium periods of around 30-45 minutes of dedicated focus and critical thought. If you’ve got a 3 hour lecture you’re dreading beginning, try breaking it into achievable 45-minute blocks with 10-minute breaks in-between. If you’ve got a 2000-word assignment, break it into 400-word sections that you’re committed to finishing before each break. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can get done using this method and during the process you’ll start to notice your attention- span getting longer and longer.
  4. Exercise & diet. We’ve all heard it a million-times before, but your brain’s performance is intrinsically linked to your body’s health. This is especially important during exam period, when your brain is working overtime. Make sure you take at least 30 minutes out of your day to walk, run, gym, swim or whatever makes your heart start to pump. A good way to stay sharp is by using your allocated breaks to take quick walks or do a few stretches. I find scheduling a solid 90-minute Zuum-powered gym break in the late afternoon to be the perfect way to reset and start the second part of my study day refreshed and clear. On top of this, make sure you’re consuming balanced foods rich in Omega 3s, B Vitamins and minerals to promote ultimate brain-functionality.