Studying and Passing Exams Requires an Important Ingredient—Knowledge & Habits
Habits are easily formed and deformed. You want to focus on creating good positive habits that are in alignment with your goals. Passing exams and minimizing test and performance anxiety.
Hypnotherapy and the protocols we have developed are highly effective in minimizing test anxiety. But, first ask yourself these questions.
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Do you as a student want to build good study habits? Is your daily routine not as effective as it could be?
By answering affirmatively you are telling your own mind that you want effective change. Yes, it’s like talking to yourself, positive self talk is important because it reinforces the new plan and direction you are on.
It’s important to understand that everyone has a different style of learning.
- Visual learners learn best when pictures, images, and spatial understanding is used.
- Auditory learners prefer using music, sounds or both.
- Kinesthetic learners prefer a more physical style of learning through using the body, sense of touch and hands.
- Logical learners desire to use reasoning, logic and systems.
- Verbal learners will prefer using words in writing and speech.
- Social learners will prefer to learn with other people or in groups.
- Solitary learners are able to learn best alone.
What style are you? Knowing your style will help you determine how to study, where to study, when to study and other important factors like what study aids you should use and be aware of, and knowing what things may distract you while you are trying to study.
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Create a realistic blueprint of your study plan and goals. Do a self-assessment of your current study habits and your current grades. Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you create realistic goals and come up with a a plan for good study habits.
- When do you usually study and for how long?
- Do you find that it is effective?
- Are you happy with your grades?
- What subjects do you need to focus on or are having difficulty with?
- What grades do you need to have in order to pass?
- What are your personal commitments and priorities?
After answering and reflecting on these questions, you’ll be able to see what areas you need to put a little more focus on. Maybe you are not spending enough time doing the right amount of work necessary each day or perhaps you choose to study late at night when you’re not as alert and energetic.
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How You Approach Studying Matters
Too many people look at studying as a necessary task, not an enjoyment or opportunity to learn. That’s fine, but researchers have found that how you approach something matters almost as much as what you do. Being in the right mindset is important in order to study smarter.
Sometimes you can’t “force” yourself to be in the right mindset, and it is during such times you should simply avoid studying. If you’re distracted by a relationship issue, an upcoming game, or finishing an important project, then studying is just going to be an exercise in frustration. Come back to it when you’re not focused (or obsessed!) by something else going on in your life.
Ways to help improve your study mindset:
- Aim to think positively when you study, and remind yourself of your skills and abilities.
- Avoid catastrophic thinking. Instead of thinking, “I’m a mess, I’ll never have enough time to study for this exam,” look at it like, “I may be a little late to study as much as I’d like, but since I’m doing it now, I’ll get most of it done.”
- Avoid absolute thinking. Instead of thinking “I always mess things up,” the more objective view is, “I didn’t do so well that time, what can I do to improve?”
- Avoid comparing yourself with others, because you usually just end up feeling bad about yourself. Your skills and abilities are unique to you, and you alone.
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Make Where & When you Study Part of Your Routine
Don’t make these mistakes! Choosing a place that isn’t conducive to concentrating. What to look out for, a place with a lot of distractions like your dorm room or night club, just kidding. But, you get the point!.
The library, a nook in a student lounge or study hall, or a quiet coffee house are good places to check out. Make sure to choose the quiet areas in these places, not the loud, central gathering areas. Investigate multiple places on-campus and off-campus, do some research! Don’t just pick the first one your find as “good enough” for your needs and habits. Finding an ideal study place is important, because it’s one you can reliably count on for the next few years.
If cramming all of your study time into a few long days isn’t working for you then it’s time to try something new (and way less stressful). Make time for studying every single day, with or without exams coming up.
Remember that consistency is key and once you start getting into good study habits, it will become a routine and that you will be able to maintain throughout the school year.
Once you have found a place and which block of time works best for you scheduled it in and be consistent! Be aware that you can always add in additional time to study by waking up an extra hour early to review your notes, or if you work better at nights, go to bed an extra hour later.
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Outline and Rewrite Your Notes.
Before and after your study sessions, you should always skim your notes from the recent lesson or topic you studied before starting on a new one. Reviewing your notes once before going to bed will also help to cement new knowledge into your brain.
If you couple reviewing your notes with a good nights sleep, then you will significantly improve your ability to retain more information. Most people find that keeping to a standard outline format helps them boil information down to its most basic components. People find that connecting similar concepts together makes it easier to remember when the exam comes around. The important thing to remember in writing outlines is that an outline only words as a learning tool when it is in your own words and structure. Every person is unique in how they put similar information together (called “chunking” by cognitive psychologists). So while you’re welcomed to copy other people’s notes or outlines, make sure you translate those notes and outlines into your own words and concepts. Failing to do this is what often causes many students to stumble in remembering important items.
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Create Memory games (Mnemonic Devices)
Memory games, or mnemonic devices, are methods for remembering information using a simple association of common words, pictures, feelings or gestures. Use what you know about your learning style as a guide. I.e. If you are visually orientated, link key information to mental pictures. A bird flying into a headwind takes longer to arrive at the breeding ground is equal to a thermodynamic equation.
If you are a linguistic or verbal learner use word or letter associations
The most common mnemonic device example is “Every Good Boy Deserves Fun.” Putting the first letters of every word together — EGBDF — gives a music student the five notes for treble clef.
The key to such memory devices is the new phrase or sentence you come up with has to be more memorable and easier to remember than the terms or information you’re trying to learn. These don’t work for everyone, so if they don’t work for you, don’t use them.
Mnemonic devices are helpful because you use more of your brain to remember visual and active images than you do to remember just a list of items. Using more of your brain means better memory.
Hypnotherapy helps your mind in being more creative and flexible and therefore more able to retain information.
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Get Enough Sleep and Rest
Build up a habit of getting regular sleep, this will help your memory, understanding theory and information recall. It is also reduces your performance and test anxiety as well as being less stressful to take an exam or attend a class when you feel well rested and alert.
If you’re finding that you are getting stressed out or tired, reflect back on your study schedule and priorities. Make sure that you have dedicated time for rest and de-stressing. You can’t be a study machine 24/7 and taking some time away from learning is a great way to relax your mind.
Good study habits require you to be fresh and sharp. A good night’s sleep is far more effective than a night cramming for a test could ever be.
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Take Breaks and Create Rewards for Yourself
Pavlov wasn’t wrong! Behavior training works. Treat yourself as a subject, reward yourself when you have accomplished you daily plan and routine. Many people view studying as a chore or task, it’s human nature to avoid it so re-frame the experience, hypnosis can easily help with this.
Rewards start by chunking study time into manageable components. Studying for 4 hours at a time with no breaks is not realistic or fun for most people. Studying for 1 hour, and then taking a 5 minute break and grabbing a snack is usually more sustainable and enjoyable. Divide study time into chunks that make sense and work for you. If you have to digest a whole textbook chapter, find sections in the chapter and commit to reading and taking notes on one section at a time. Maybe you only do one section in a sitting, maybe you do two. Find the limits that seem to work for you.
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Know What the Expectations are for the Class.
Different professors and teachers have different expectations from their students. While taking good notes and listening in class (and attending as many of the classes as you can) are good starts, you can do one better by spending some time with the instructor or professor’s assistant. Talking to the instructor early on – especially if you foresee a difficult course ahead – will help you understand the course requirements and the professor’s expectations. Maybe most students in the class are expected to get a “C” because the material is so difficult; knowing that ahead of time helps set your expectations, too.
Pay attention in class. If the instructor writes something on the whiteboard or displays it on the screen, it’s important. But if they say something, that’s important too. Copy these things down as they’re presented, but don’t zone out completely from what the instructor is also saying. Some students focus on the written materials without regard for what the instructor is saying. If you write down only one aspect of the professor’s instructions (e.g., just what they write down), you’re probably missing about half the class.
If you get a particularly bad grade on a paper or exam, talk to the instructor. Try and understand where things went wrong, and what you can do in the future to help reduce it from happening again.
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Don’t forget to Learn
it’s your future, remember why are are doing this.
Studying isn’t just about passing an exam, as most students look at it as. Studying is an effort to actually learn things, some of which you might care about. So while you’ll have to take your share of classes that have little or nothing to do with your interests, you should still look for interesting things to take away from every experience. Instead of being judgmental try being creative and finding synchronicities and links between this subject and your ultimate goals.
What are your future goals, design a map, a blueprint for where you are going. This will help you in these darker moments.
By the time you’ll realize what a great opportunity school is, you’ll be well into the middle of your life with a lot of responsibilities — children, mortgages, career pressures, etc. Then most people have neither the time nor energy to go back to school. So take the time to learn some stuff now, because you’ll appreciate the opportunity later on.