10 tips on exam preparation

written by: Sabine Klug, 18.12.2019

Time after time: Exam time! Everyone is sharing tips as “get enough sleep” or “start studying early” – but that’s not what we’re about to share with you! In this guide, we provide you some really valuable tips with which you are guaranteed to happily survive the stressful exam time.

1. Planning is everything

In contrast to the „school system” with its fixed guidelines, rules and strict deadlines, university is a whole other story with a focus on self-organization. You somehow have to adapt to this new kind of studying – and there won’t be a lot of time to do so. Since it has to be quick, be open to new contact points! The Austrian Students Union (ÖH) offers a broad list of services to help you and support you in every matter!
Additionally, you can find other advisory services of your university right on campus, just ask! In short: Inform yourself about the process of the upcoming semester before the new semester starts! This makes planning easier and will help you to be more relaxed through stressful exam times.

2. Network

Social contacts are important components for successful studies. That means: network as much as you can! Most universities offer tutorials who accompany your courses and allow you to dive deeper into the subject as well as the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues. Once again, the Austrian Students Union (ÖH) will be happy to help you with their numerous offers.

3. The right time management

Create a study plan that allows you to learn continuously. When planning your schedule, keep in mind that it is not enough to be physically present at lectures – preparation and follow-ups are always necessary! Making a plan, especially when you are new to something should also always include some kind of flexibility. Trial – and – error is totally okay! If your plan doesn’t work out, change it according to your needs and try again! One thing that is really important: properly assess your workload and don’t overtax yourself!

4. Find your motivation

Unfortunately, there is no insider tip to magically increase your motivation. Honestly, all learning tips are pointless if you’ve lost your motivation along the way. To prevent this from happening, you should think carefully about what keeps you going. While some recharge their batteries with going outside and catching some fresh air, others wouldn’t see this as a reward at all. Therefore, it is important that you find out what your individual means of motivation are – maybe thinking about future goals or the motivation that made you start your studies can help with that!

5. Don’t lose yourself, even with time pressure and panic

For this purpose, we have two valuable tips from interesting studies for you:

  • Highlighters don’t actually do anything except color your books in bright colors! Studies have shown that your brain is under-challenged when reading and highlighting. It seems so easy, underlining a few words and you start to absorb all of the information. Well, unfortunately the signals sent by colored markers are simply too weak for your brain to really remember. Start taking your own notes – this simply works better and is also way more efficient.
  • Repeated reading – rereading – does not lead to learning success! Once again, the signals you are sending to your brain by doing so are simply too weak. It does not recognize that the things you are rereading are important – no matter how beautifully colored they may be. In the end, you will be able to read the text more fluently and easily, but important information won’t be stuck. So instead of rereading try repeating what you have read in your own words. This will have a lot more effect on your brain.

You can find the study concerning this topic in this Journal.

6. Create the perfection study environment

It goes without saying that the right environment plays a big role in your learning success. Some learning locations hide innumerable dangers of distraction – the community kitchen, your local pub or coffee houses are such places. In order to not get distracted, keep these three key factors for effective learning in mind: daylight, fresh air and quiet. Most STUWO student residences offer you exactly those concepts: light-flooded rooms with spacious desks and enough space to take a break.

7. Take a break

When studying, you should not forget about taking breaks! By taking breaks you will learn more effectively and there is no risk of being completely exhausted by the time the exam comes up. Therefore: Leave your desk behind from time to time, take a short walk outside and have a bite to eat. An old latin proverb reads: “plenus venter non studet libenter”, which translates to “a full stomach doesn’t like studying, but neither does an empty stomach”. So, throughout your study time, have several small, nutritious snacks such as fruits, vegetables or nuts. And even though you probably can’t hear it anymore: don’t forget to drink a lot of water!

8. Keep your study materials together

Keep your study plan up to date and always make sure that all of your study materials are complete and correct. And that doesn’t only apply to your notes, you should always have necessary materials to hand: books, pens, paper for example.

9. Music can boost your concentration

Music can be a great way to focus. What’s important is that it has the right tempo – not too fast and not too slow. Taboo is anything that upsets you or songs with lyrics that will distract you from studying. Chill – out and concentration music are well suited (yes, those actually exist).

10. Togetherness makes stronger

Group-work can often be exhausting. Usually the tasks in group-work are distributed unevenly. The classic study group consists of the following people: Person A, who has no idea about anything. Person B, who talks and talks and actually contributes nothing. Person C, who promises to make a valuable contribution. Person D who only really shows up by the last day and last but not least Person E, who plays everyone against everyone.
Therefore, there are only two ways to use a study group to your advantage:

  • You choose the members of your study group very carefully.
  • Or you are person A and acquire the knowledge of your fellow students as quickly as possible.

With this in mind, we wish you good luck for your upcoming exams!

Do you have any questions?

We are happy to help!