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Procrastination is your enemy during exam time

Procrastination is the art of putting off until later what you could do right now. We all do it but unfortunately it’s one of the most common reasons for poor performance during exams. If you want to ace your exams then studying needs to be the most important thing you do.

So how do you make it a priority? Check out these strategies to help you stay on track for exams.

Own your study space

Creating good study habits relies on finding a space in which you can be most productive. This may be somewhere quiet where you’re on your own or it may even be in a space where you are surrounded by people and noise. Some people listen to music while others require absolute silence to study. Whatever works for you. The key is to find your preferred space and stick with it so you can create a consistent study routine.

Make a plan

It seems obvious but careful planning is essential for effective exam preparation. Make sure you know exactly what is going to be covered in each exam – check Blackboard for unit outlines and any other information about the weeks or topics included in the exam. Then plan out each day of your study period by dividing your available time into chunks of 30 mins to 1 hour. For each time slot plan what unit and topic you are going to revise. You can break this down even further by creating a checklist for each topic and ticking things off as you go.

Get organised

Once you have a plan in place the next step is to arrange all your notes from lectures, tutorials and readings into some kind of logical order. Use unit outlines and lecture topics to organise your notes and rewrite the main points. Try and add diagrams and mind maps to connect the content where possible. If you don’t understand something or need more information then do some research so that you feel more confident about answering any quesions about the content. Summarise each topic further to about 2-5 pages by rewriting only the major points. Then just before the exam condense your notes down to one page.

Test yourself

One of the best ways to revise content is to test yourself or have someone else test you. Access any practice exams that have been provided and use chapter quizes from your textbooks to help with sample questions. Create a bank of questions or use flascards to keep checking your knowledge and understanding. You can use apps such as Quizlet or stick to hardcopy cards to carry around with you. This is an effective way of identifying gaps and prioritsing which topics your need to spend more time on.

Take a break from social media

We all know that surfing the net and social media can take up huge amounts of our time. You might start out checking a few messages and then find yourself spending a couple of hours scrolling through social media or watching videos. Why not take a complete break during exam time so that you can focus on your revision? If you can’t give it up altogether then make it part of your daily study plan so there’s a limit to how long you spend online. For example, allocate an hour at night or at lunch time when you need a break from study.

Access resources and support

Sometimes the stress of preparing for exams can lead to anxiety, depression and fear which stops you from being productive. If you find yourself struggling emotionally reach out to family, friends, peers or uni support services.
You can also access free, confidential counselling by qualified professionals.

Check out other QUT resources for successful exam prep.

Preparation is the key to exams

There’s so much you can do to make exam time easier. Preparation is truly the key to exam success, yet the reality is, many students leave revision until the week, or night before the exam itself.
Here are a few common strategies to help get you in the zone:

Before the exam

  • Plan out your time using a study planner or time management app.
  • Try to remove distractions so you remain focused.
  • Make notes and then make notes of notes.
  • Find out what type of exam it is and if there are past papers you can look at.
  • Check where and what your exam is and note the details.
  • Check Blackboard for notes or guides from your lecturers on what to study.
  • Eat healthily and sleep well, also try to limit your alcohol intake.
  • Exercise and look after yourself.
  • Study with friends.
  • The night before the exam – pack the things you need in your bag: pens, pencils, calculator, water, student ID, snacks and briefly look over your notes. Set an alarm and then allow yourself time to relax.
  • On the day of the exam – leave home early, take your bag, and remember to breathe.
  • During the exam

  • Read all the questions and if allowed, mark the ones you are confident answering.
  • When allowed, write down anything you can think of in bullet point form while reading the exam paper.
  • Look at how much questions are worth, allocate your time, and answer accordingly.
  • Work logically through the questions you know you can answer and then work on the remaining questions.
  • Don’t get distracted by other people. They have their own strategy for answering questions, so you shouldn’t compare yourself with them.
  • Check out QUT’s guide for preparing for exams to access more resources.