Got kids sitting their junior or leaving cert this year?
In that case – sending you love and light, guys – exam time is stressful both for kids and their parents, no?
However, we have themed up with iRevise.com and will kick off a series of articles by their educational experts, aimed at helping students (and stressed-out parents!) with clever and useful advice in the weeks leading to up to exam time. iRevise.com provides first class revision resources, prepared exclusively for subscribers by educational experts, and has a proven track record of supporting students for over a decade to improve results and succeed academically.
First up, the experts at iRevise.com want to tackle the importance of a good study hygiene in the lead-up to exams, and how we can all help our kids with this:
Study Hygiene and your eating habits affect studying for exams
There are about four weeks left until the start of the State exams but if you adopt the best habits and practices that are conducive to studying, these weeks can be very productive and give you more confidence, and less stress, going into the exams.
Many students make mistakes when even choosing a place to study – picking one that allows for noise and distraction, eating the wrong foods to help the brain and also not planning how they are going to study. iRevise.com teachers have got together and come up with the study tips below which will mean that you are using your time effectively – here are some steps which you must take, and habits you must adopt, and before you know it, the exams will be over.
Create an ideal study environment
It is important to pick a place to study that will allow you to concentrate and focus on your studies. If you decide to sit at the kitchen table, which is at the heart of the home and where all the rest of the family are running around, this will be decidedly disruptive and will be a hindrance to your studying. It might be a case where you can go to a library or a quiet coffee shop to do some of your studying outside of a full house.
It is also a good idea to have a designated place that is ‘your study space’ so that it is a place that you go to specifically. If you don’t necessarily need a quiet space then your bedroom could be ideal but if you feel that you need absolutely no distractions, try and set up in the attic or the garage or even in a quieter house of a relative. Your work area must be set up to allow for comfort and be stocked with all the necessary items you will need to study. Make sure to keep it organised and tidy up after the end of each study session. If you tidy away everything when you are finished, it will mean that you will be able to start your next session promptly without having to worry about clearing up.
It is also important to talk to the other people in your house to explain how you hope to plan your study to eliminate unnecessary distractions. Parents are also stressed about the exams and they want to help their student as much as possible – however it is important to stress to Mum or Dad that constant questions of ‘Are you ok?’ ‘Would you like a cup of coffee or a sandwich?’ are very welcome but, at the end of the day, they are distracting and interruptions.
Set study goals
Firstly, you will need to set yourself a realistic goal i.e. results you want to get, a course you want to get into. Your realistic goal should be reflective of your past results and with effort, study, good time management and your natural ability what is realistically achievable for you.
Manage tasks effectively by making them:
- Measurable – success in completion of specific tasks is easy to measure.
- Realistic – don’t create a task which can’t be achieved because it is unrealistic.
Understand what you are trying to achieve before you start a task. For example, if you are reading a chapter, aim to take the key points from the chapter as a minimum. You may choose to answer a relevant question after completing the topic to test your comprehension. This is very effective. These methods help avoid reading material for the sake of it. It is beneficial to schedule the most difficult tasks first. You are freshest at this point. Schedule your favourite topics towards the end as you are more likely to complete them.
Take regular study breaks
Make time for non-study items on your schedule. If you don’t eat, sleep, exercise and socialise a little, your study time will not be effective. There is a point of diminishing returns and the exam cycle is a marathon not a sprint. Make your schedule accordingly. Work done early in the cycle will stand to you later. Schedule short breaks within your timetable. Try not to leave everything until the last minute (avoid cramming for exams).
Exercise, sleep and food
It is very important to ensure you follow the following guidelines.
Get enough exercise when you are studying – healthy body = healthy mind. Exercise releases endorphins which make us feel happy, the happier we feel the easier it is to concentrate and study. Get enough sleep – if you are sleep deprived you will not be able to concentrate properly. You should try and get eight hours sleep a night.
Have a balanced diet and make sure you are getting all the required vitamins, you should make sure to eat plenty of Omega-3 fish oils and drink plenty of water. Omega-3 oils are beneficial because they provide fluidity to cell membranes and improve communication between brain cells. They may help to boost learning power, but also greatly enhance mood.
Remember after the exams, you can return to your normal eating habits, but these small changes should make a real difference to your ability to retain the information for the exams. It is hugely important to remain well-hydrated while studying as this will help to keep your energy levels up. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and lack of ability to focus. Keep your water chilled for added alertness.
Over the next few weeks, we will chat with the experts at iRevise.com about all sorts of advice for students sitting exams. Next week we’ll tackle the topic of stress management and exam stress, and iRevise.com will dish out some great advice for both the student and the family.