#lifehack your exams

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If you’re looking at this picture then you’re prepping for exams as we speak! Who knew?!         “Newborn baby Alpaca” by TC Morgan (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

It goes without saying that good old fashioned reviewing, revising and throughout-the-semester planning will leave you in the best place regarding exam performance. QUT Library’s Studywell has some fantastic resources including an Exam Study Planner, advice on tackling exam anxiety and emergency exam preparation to get you on your way.

However, in addition to this, Jackson Chung of website MakeUseOf’s has come up with 18 Unexpected Lifehacking Tips To Improve Your Exam Scores which are worth a look. He gives top tips for what to do one month before your exam, one day before and on the day. Here are my favourites.

One month before:

  • Work for 25 minutes without disruption and then take a 5 minute break. Do this 4 time and then take a 15 minute break. This structure breaks the daunting task of studying up into manageable and not-so-daunting segments. This isn’t far from standard exam prep advice so is worth repeating.
  • Use some restriction apps to block your access to the places that most suck your time. ‘Self control’ blocks specific websites for up to 24 hours; ‘Cold Turkey’ blocks specific websites at certain times and ‘Freedom’ prevents you using the internet at all – this one is not so good if you are needing to access your QUT Blackboard unit page or download articles from the Library!

One day before:

  • Sleep on it. Sleeping increases alertness and decreases stress and also improves memory and cognitive function, i.e. essential exam skills.
  • Watch cute videos. Yes, you heard me. Apparently a recent Japanese study found that participants who viewed cute images improved their ability to perform fine motor dexterity-based tasks. Chung recommends searching for ‘sneezing baby panda’, ‘scottie pinwheel’ and ‘hamster eating a tiny burrito’ and I’d add ‘Four laughing babies’ to that list for maximum cuteness.

On the day of the exam:

  • Chew gum. Apparently studies have shown that chewing gum improves reaction time and accuracy
  • Formulate an answer first. In multiple choice exams, think of an answer yourself before viewing the choices available.
  • Sit up straight in the exam room. Apparently a study at Harvard Business School found that how you sit and stand can affect your confidence.

For even more exam preparation advice Ask a Librarian.

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