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Navigating Exam Season: Your Comprehensive Guide to Success

As we dive headfirst into the hustle and bustle of exam season, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The pressure is real, but so are your capabilities. The key to conquering this challenging time is to make a solid game plan, use effective study strategies, and take care of your well-being. In this post, we’ll take you through the steps to prepare for your exams like a pro.

Part 1: Crafting Your Study Plan

1. Set Clear Goals
Let’s kick things off with a clear vision. What do you want to achieve in each exam? Setting specific goals keeps you motivated.

2. Create a Study Schedule
Get your calendar out and plan your time. Break your day into chunks, and allocate specific slots for each subject or topic. Real talk: Be honest about your time and energy.

3. Prioritise Units and Topics
Some subjects need more love than others. Identify them and allocate more time. It’s all about balance.

4. Break It Down
Make your study sessions bite-sized. Short and sweet is the name of the game. Remember, focus is key.

5. Use Study Aids
Gather your materials, find a cozy study spot, and set the mood for productivity.

Part 2: Crushing It with Study Strategies

1. Active Learning
Let’s ditch passive reading. Summarise, make flashcards, and even try teaching the material to a friend. Active learning sticks!

2. Variety is the Spice of Life
Keep it interesting by mixing up your study methods. Reading, note-taking, and problem-solving, all in one go.

3. Practise Past Papers
Don’t skip this! Study old exam papers to get a feel for the format and track your progress.

4. Study Groups
Friends can be more than just a social crew. Collaborate, share ideas, and conquer tough units together. Book a space to study on either campus.

5. Time Management
Stick to your schedule, and remember that study breaks are non-negotiable. The Pomodoro technique is your best friend.

Part 3: Rocking the Wellbeing Game

1. Maintain a Balanced Diet
Fuel your brain with a balanced diet. Nutrients are your secret weapon.

2. Stay Hydrated
Water keeps you sharp and focused. Don’t replace water with coffee!

3. Exercise Regularly
Move that body! Regular exercise is a mood booster and memory enhancer. It’s a win-win.

4. Get Adequate Sleep
Say no to all-nighters. Quality sleep is your ally in the battle for success.

5. Manage stress levels
When stress strikes, take a break,try meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to regain your calm.

Success isn’t just about the endgame; it’s about how you navigate the journey. With a rock-solid plan, effective study tactics, and self-care, you’ve got this. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. We’re in it together. So let’s tackle these exams like the champions we are! Good luck, and let’s crush it! 📚💪😊
Check out more QUT exam resources online.

Undergraduate Kelvin Grove Campus

How to plan your way to Academic Success

As a uni student, creating a study plan can be a crucial factor in achieving academic success. With the freedom and flexibility that comes with university life, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of procrastination or inconsistency. A well-structured study plan can help you stay on track and ensure you make the most of your time.

Here are some tips for creating a study plan that works for you:

Set clear goals

Start by identifying your goals for the semester. Do you want to achieve a certain GPA, finish your assignments ahead of time, or improve your study habits? Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can begin to create a study plan that will help you reach those goals.

Make a schedule

A study plan is essentially a schedule that outlines when you will study and what you will study. Start by blocking out time in your schedule for classes, work, and other commitments. Then, allocate specific times for studying and make sure you stick to them.

Prioritise your tasks

When creating your study plan, it’s important to prioritise your tasks. Identify the most important assignments, readings, and projects and schedule them first. Make sure you allocate enough time to complete each task.

Break down larger tasks

If you have a large project or assignment, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will make it easier to schedule and complete.

Take breaks

It’s important to take regular breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus. Schedule in short breaks throughout your study sessions to rest your mind and recharge.

Review and adjust

Your study plan should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. If you find that you’re not sticking to your schedule or your goals are not being met, adjust your plan to match your reality.

Use technology

There are so many apps and tools available to help you create and manage your study plan. Try using a study app or planner to keep track of your tasks and deadlines.

A well-planned study schedule can help you stay organised and focused, leading to better academic performance. Remember to review and adjust your plan as needed and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling. Make an appointment for success coaching.

With a solid study plan in place, you’ll be well on your way to achieving academic success.

Strategies for managing exam stress

It’s that time of semester again and we all know that the exam period can be super stressful for many of us! Even though we know it’s coming and we have the best of intentions things often begin to unravel at the end of semester. It helps to have a plan and a reminder of some of the simplest things you can do to set yourself up for success:

Check in with yourself

Often we forget to really notice what’s going on for us. Stress can manifest in all sorts of ways but these are some common signs:

  • Feeling confused
  • Losing touch with friends
  • Feeling moody
  • Having trouble making decisions
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Lacking motivation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach, or feeling sick
  • Tense muscles and headaches
  • So how can you minimise the impact of stress when trying to prepare for exams and assessments?

    Get into a healthy routine

    It may seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter but lack of sleep has a significant impact on your mood and energy levels. It’s hard to focus on revision when you’re sleep-deprived and your body starts to crave all sorts of things like caffeine! Try to aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night and also make time to enjoy other activities like spending time with friends and family. Balance is the key!

    Set realistic goals

    Make a plan and divide your tasks into realistic goals with a reasonable timeframe. It can help to break each unit into sub-topics to focus on in one study session. Chunk your time down to 30-minute sessions so that you can see what your priorities really are. Make sure you allocate time for breaks as well as food and sleep! Seeing a plan in front of you can also help you stay on track so try printing it out or add it to your screen background.

    Look after your body

    We all know that nutrition plays a huge part in our wellbeing but when we feel stressed it’s easy to reach for something quick and easy. Unfortunately highly processed food and fast-release carbs can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated after the initial food high. Surround yourself with healthy snacks (fruit, nuts, energy bars, healthy smoothies, eggs etc) and try to plan your main meals during the entire study period. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet to give yourself the energy you need to power through this intense time!

    Look after your mind

    When you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed it helps to just stop and re-set. Take some time to close your eyes and just focus on your breathing for a few minutes. By calming down your breathing you can decrease your body’s response to stress and give yourself a new perspective. It’s also important to find time to exercise. Just moving your body for 30 minutes a day can increase your energy, focus, and boost your endorphins! You don’t have to fit in a full gym workout – just a walk will do.

    Balancing study with everything that’s going on can be a real challenge. Just remember that it’s only for a short time and there is always someone at QUT that can support you. There are also plenty of useful resources available!

    Dealing with distractions

    I might just quickly just check my phone. I need to create a new playlist before I start revision. I’d better put on some washing. Does this sound familiar to you?

    We can all get distracted when studying or when we have things we don’t want to do. During exam time particularly it’s really important to work out what is taking up your time so that you can avoid distractions and maximise your revision.

    Track your time

    Keep a time-use diary and list what you do each hour. After 24 hours, identify your patterns and see where you might be able to save time. Looking at time in blocks helps you be more productive.
    For example, are you spending too much time on these activities?

  • Reading or watching TV
  • Re-writing notes
  • Catching up with friends
  • Checking social media
  • Online games or browsing
  • Cleaning or organising things
  • Once you know where your time’s going it’s easier to manage it.

    Create digital discipline

    If you’re distracted by emails or text messages, turn off your phone or lock it away while you are concentrating on study. You can even schedule in specific blocks of time for calls and emails. You can also use apps to restrict access to sites that may tempt you away from your revision. Check out these tools:

      RescueTime to track your time on websites and apps.
      Cold Turkey allows you to schedule blocks when you need them or simply reduce distractions by adding pomodoro-style breaks or allowances.
      SelfControl is a free and open-source app for macOS that lets you block anything on the Internet.
      StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on study.
      LeechBlock NG is a simple productivity tool for Firefox to block those time-wasting sites.
    Avoid procrastination

    It’s more common to avoid things when you feel overwhelmed with a task. Use a study plan to break down your revision into smaller tasks and set deadlines for each topic or unit. Use checklists and quizes to test yourself and identify what you need to focus on. Perhaps reward yourself with a coffee or treat when you check something off the list.
    Try to be selective with your reading and always read with a purpose in mind. It can help to have a set of questions you want to answer.

    Maximise your time

    We are all different so it’s important to work out when in the day you concentrate best. If you’re more productive in the morning, try organising your time so you study early in the day and take breaks or socialise later on. Or if you’re a night owl you can use the morning to relax or exercise and plan your study for the afternoon. It’s important to schedule regular breaks so that you are working at your best.

    Set yourself up for success

    Find a place to study where you won’t be interrupted. Some people find it easier to concentrate in the library or a quiet spot on campus than at home. Music and background noise can make some people more productive. You could try classical music, movie or game soundtracks, or ambient sounds (rain, waves, birdsong etc.) to help you stay on track.

    Change your mindset

    It’s easy to feel like it’s Ground Hog Day when you are studying for large blocks of time so make sure you give yourself incentives. Arrange something to look forward to after your study session, or include something fun to do in your breaks. It can also help to change up the order you study in. It may help to start with what you find easier or more interesting. This can help you feel more positive and settle in to study mode.

    Learn to say no

    You may have made a detailed study plan, found ways of dealing with the things that distract you and been really disciplined but you still don’t have enough time! It could just be that you’re trying to do too much. If you have too much going on in our life you might need to say’no’ more often – even if it’s just during exam time.

    Five apps for dealing with exam stress

    Exams coming up? For most of us the pressure of exams and final assessment submissions cause some level of stress. Stress is your response to pressure and while a small amount can be useful to keep you focused if it becomes too much exam revision can seem impossible.

    The good news is that there are so many apps out there to help deal with this intense time:

    Exam Countdown is a free app to keep track of exam and assessment dates. It provides a handy visual reminder of all your important upcoming dates. You can keep focused by easily checking how much time you’ve got to revise before you sit each exam. We love the fact that you can colour code all your exams and tests and use icons as a quick visual reference for each unit. You can also add notes to remind yourself of anything you need to bring on the day. Available on both Android and iOS.

    Mind mapping is a great study method as it helps organise your thoughts, spark your memory and come up with new ideas. With SimpleMind you can create your own mind maps, or choose one of the auto layouts and fill it in. If you like finding creative ways to revise for exams then this app is for you. The free version does plenty but the full version is reasonably priced too. Available on all platforms.

    Studies show that meditation can help you stay on task longer, switch between things less frequently and enjoy your tasks more. Headspace is a popular app, with meditations to help you through all phases of your life. The Focus pack can help you de-clutter your thoughts and sharpen your concentration, even under pressure. Try the free version or access hundreds of hours of extra content when you subscribe.

    Take a deep breath. Calm is both a call to action and a defining feature of the app’s approach to mindfulness and meditation. It’s message is simply “you’re going to get through this, and all you need to start is a moment”. There are so many new apps for meditation and mindfulness, but Calm stands out for its ease of use and attention to (soothing) detail. Try the free version on Android or iOS.

    PAUSE is based on the ancient principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness practice. When you want to shake off your stress and start relaxing, this app can work wonders. Against a backdrop of soothing music, you move your finger slowly across your screen, being careful not to speed up your pace. This triggers the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response which helps you regain focus and release stress within minutes. Check it out on Android or iOS!

    Don’t forget that QUT also provides free, confidential counselling services for current students!

    Top apps for being organised

    We all know that one of the keys to student success is being organised but it’s not always easy to achieve. Most of us are trying to balance study with work, family, sport, socialising and other commitments so it often feels like a juggling act. Luckily there’s a range of free online tools to help you feel organised in all areas of your life.

    We’ve chosen a few of our favourite apps to get you started:

    In the second half of semester assessments can take priority but it’s also important to plan for exams. Exam Countdown helps you organise and prioritise your time in the lead up to exams.

    Todoist links with the apps you already use so that you have one central, organised hub for getting things done.

    Take your notes everywhere and access them across all of your devices with Evernote. You can also add photos and audio recordings to help revise for each of your units.

    Use Brainscape to create your own flashcards of terminology or key theories and test yourself. You can also share your lists and browse existing cards. This is great for medical terminology in particular.

    Music makes the world go round and it has also been proven to help you focus. Find your own study playlist on Spotify to help you get in the zone.

    And remember to look after your wellbeing with some stress busters. Calm is an amazing app for wellbeing and mindfulness with 100+ guided meditations.

    Don’t forget, if you feel that you have too much to cope with it’s ok to ask for help. QUT has a range of support resources and confidential counseling.