By Mirna Momcicevic
Poor time management, lack of concentration, lack of motivation and poor learning techniques are the main reasons why students fail courses and struggle during the exam period. Although all students go through their difficulties, often the most difficult time is during the graduate school. In order to facilitate the pre-exam stress period we bring you a few tips that might help you.
No universal recipe or tactic will help ensure the success; however, there are certain rules that will, if you follow them, ease your way to success. Quality planning, self-confidence, adherence to the plan, wise use of available time, and quality lifestyle are some of the factors that can help you. Also, the environment you create and your living habits play a major role in your learning process.
The most common problem that afflicts graduate students is time management. Many graduates have full time jobs, and children and families to look after. This is why during the first week of classes you should get familiar with the amount of reading and hours necessary for the individual courses and determine how much time you will spend studying on a daily basis.
When planning, make sure that you have time not only for reading, but for writing and editing as well. Once you have you plan laid out, it is extremely important that you stick to it. It might happen that half way through semester you feel burned out and that the plan seems meaningless, but remember “the math doesn’t lie.” If you planned well, the effort will pay off.
Environment and Order
When you learn, avoid distractions; tell those you are living with that you will be studying, so they do not distract you. Put a sign on the door, lock yourself in the room, turn off your cell phone. This might sound like a radical step, but it is often necessary, as we get distracted very easily. This way you will assure continuous concentration.
If you are studying in a group, distribute tasks and responsibilities equally, and the learning process will be more efficient. Group learning does not work well for everybody, and if your priority is having fun with your friends instead of learning, and if you have a hard time concentrating, then avoid the group learning.
Do not switch from a subject to a subject. Concentrate on one subject long enough, as by learning a little on one subject and then switching to another, and again returning to the first creates confusion in your head. Only when you are sure that you learned enough of one subject, move onto the another.
Healthy Diet, Water and Exercising
Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for brain and functioning of the centers for learning and memory. Salmon and other fish are known for a large dose of these acids. Foods such as hazelnuts, peanuts and pumpkin seeds also have a great effect on the brain.
Dehydration can seriously impair memory and mental processes. Therefore, make sure that you are always sufficiently hydrated. Water intake depends on your size and weight, and also on your activity level and where you live. In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you would be on the higher end of that range; if you are in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you would need less (WebMD).
Exercise regularly. Numerous studies have shown that exercising at least three times a week improves brain function and has a positive effect on memory.
Many students sacrifice sleep for the sake of learning, but this is not something you should be doing. Getting enough sleep is essential for brain functioning, good judgment, reaction, and even grammar. Studies show that the brain of a person who had enough sleep memorizes faster than the brain of a person that lacks sleep (WebMD).
Believe in Yourself
Have faith in yourself and believe that you will do a great job. It has been proven that believing in own intelligence can actually increase intelligence. Some tips on how to increase intelligence would include watching less television, exercising, reading challenging books, practicing critical reflection, avoiding sleep deprivation, etc.
Last but not least, when you successfully complete the planned task and learning, reward yourself with a night out, socializing, reading books, watching movies or series. Balance your time spent on learning and allow yourself time to enjoy.