Congratulations, you’ve successfully navigated another 12 weeks of university. Now, there is just one thing that stands between you and the glorious summer break. Exams.
I know that word is enough for many of you to start to break out in a cold sweat, but don’t panic. The key to exams is preparation and luckily you have the SWOTVAC, which is almost a whole week after classes and before exams to help you prepare.
But the SWOTVAC can often be fool’s gold. Yes, it’s time without classes to study but it also more than likely means that you’re at home where you’re surrounded by lots of distractions.
Here are some tips to help you combat procrastination and make the most of the SWOTVAC.
1. Location is important
When sitting down to study, remember, location is everything! Trying to study in a room with distractions such as television, people talking or loud noises is a recipe for disaster. A quiet room in your house or level three of the La Trobe library are both ideal spots to study.
Furthermore, it’s best to avoid studying in places that you associate with relaxing or unwinding. Studying somewhere like the library or a study, rather than your room, helps your brain switch into ‘work’ mode.
2. No TV, movies or Netflix
Don’t kid yourself. You aren’t retaining any information if you try to study with an episode of ‘Stranger Things’ on in the background. Most importantly, you’re doing a disservice to that show. It’s fantastic and deserves your full attention.
Instead, try and turn these distractions into incentives for yourself after completing a certain amount of study. Because at the end of the day, taking a break is important.
3. Take study breaks often
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s actually quite important. There is a wealth of research around this topic online, but the consensus seems to be working for around 60 – 90 minutes between breaks is most ideal.
Ultimately though, it comes down to personal preference, so try and change it up a bit to see what works for you. As long as you’re regularly setting aside time for breaks, you’ll find yourself more productive when you go back to study. The Pomodoro Technique is another method of breaking up study and break time that has become extremely popular.
4. Ignore the Internet
Everyone’s best friend, the Internet, can become their hated enemy when trying to study and stay productive. It’s easy to say ‘log off altogether’ when trying to study but the reality is some study requires you to be online. It’s so easy to have a tab of Facebook, Twitter or Reddit open while trying to study.
But when it comes down to it, these things are constantly distracting you from the real job at hand, study. If you’re taking breaks as frequently as you should be, try to relegate browsing these sites to your break time. Because, let’s be real, you’re not missing out on anything that won’t be there in an hour’s time.
5. Be on top of your study techniques
Whether it’s flash cards, practice tests, summaries, highlighting notes or mind mapping make sure you’re revising content in the most effective way possible. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through writing notes for lecture slides and realising you’re barely retaining any of the information.
If you haven’t figured out the best way to revise information and feel like what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t panic. You have a wealth of La Trobe resources at your disposal. Book an appointment with the Student Development Advisers. Then can help you out with your time management skills, as well as giving you some great study tips. The Peer Learning Advisers in the library are also your friends here. They can give you some more specific advice that relates to what you’re studying. Acheive@Uni is an online resource available to you if you’re after general study tips.
6. Plan out your exam study
You hear all the time that ‘planning is key’, but at the end of the day, it really does ring true. A good way to help with your preparation is to use a daily or even hourly planner. This helps in many ways.
Firstly, planners help make sure that you cover all of the material that you need to. Setting out what you need to do on a certain day also gives you more flexibility to plan out things like breaks, meals or social events.
How do you stay productive during the SWOTVAC? Let us know in the comments!