Do you have what it takes to study for exams? Power tips and planners

how to study

Can you beat the clock, pull up your socks and head for gold? Do you have what it takes to study for exams, and score great results? Remember, all it takes is 90% hard work and 10% intelligence – and then you too can scoop all the awards! Here are some great tips on how to study and benchmarks to see how you fare:

Study tools : know where you are and what you can do

Reading

If a learner does not read at the required reading speed and comprehension level for their grade, they are going to find studying difficult. A learner in matric should be reading at 250 words per minute with a comprehension level of 75%.

The only way to read better, is to read more. So grab a book, or even read a page a day of the local newspaper.

The mind

The human mind can only concentrate effectively for about 40 minutes. Studying should be divided into one hour blocks made up as follows:

  • 40 minutes studying
  • 10 minutes rest
  • 10 minutes revision

Once the block is completed, a break of 30 minutes is suggested.

No more than three blocks should be planned if studying is done in the afternoon only.

At least half an hour of maths should be studied every day.

The last study block of the day should be the learner’s favourite subject.

Memory

After studying for 40 minutes, there is a recall of between 75 and 80% of the subject matter.

This drops rapidly as the day progresses.

By the end of the day only about 40% of what had been studied is retained in the memory.

In order to retain the subject matter learnt, the content of a particular study block that had been done the previous day needs to be revised. This should not take any longer than 15 minutes.

The memory is then able to retain the subject matter for up to a week before that same subject matter needs to be revised.

After this revision, the subject matter is retained for three weeks before another revision is necessary.

How to Study a Swotting Subject

A swotting subject such as history is usually divided into different chapters or sections.

Before starting a section all the subheadings needs to be written down so that the learner is immediately able to obtain an overview of the section.

Take a paragraph at a time under each subsection and highlight the key words.

Keywords should sum up the gist of the paragraph.

You will know if you have highlighted the correct keywords, when, by only reading the keywords you will understand the paragraph.

You do this for all the content under the subheadings and then study only what has been summarised.

At least 30 minutes a day should be spent on practising maths.

Organising a study timetable

Organise a study timetable according to the hour blocks mentioned earlier.

If you start at three in the afternoon, then plan for three blocks with a different subject

  • Block 1 (Geography)      15h00 – 16h00
  • Block 2 (biology)            16h30 – 17h30
  • Block 3 (Maths)              19h30 – 20h30

Plan five blocks for a Saturday and five for Sunday with at least an hour break between each block.

DON’T study only one subject per day.

Give yourself a free day, usually a Friday.

How to Study: tips from the experts

Sit at a desk that is free of all unnecessary papers and books.

If you want to listen to music, it has been found that light classical music such as Mozart is quite relaxing.

During your breaks, try and relax so that when you start your next session you are in the right frame of mind.

If you are studying a subject where you are asked to classify or list certain information, the following is a good example:

  • Name the planets in order from the sun
  • Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
  • All you need to do is make up a sentence using the first letter of each planet MVEMA JSUN.

Plan a timetable at least three weeks before the first exam.

Switch off your cell phone so that you have no interruptions!

No social media or digital game time during your study breaks.

Be well prepared, relax and get a good night’s sleep before writing an exam!

Related useful articles

  • Writing Exams: Tips for parents to handle the stress. Read here
  • Coping with mid year exams. Read here

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Author

Dr Ken Resnick

Dr Ken Resnick

Ken Resnick, parenting expert, psychologist, author, family negotiator, teacher, school counsellor, speaker, career counsellor, passionate about parenting, successfully raised step twin girls who turn 21 in June and ex-Springbok rugby triallist.  Visit his company SmartChoice Parenting.

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