"Exam Session Emergency Tips" - on the run-up to exams | Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Gdańsk University of Technology

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Date added: 2023-01-23

"Exam Session Emergency Tips" - on the run-up to exams

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The exam session at Gdańsk University of Technology begins on 28 January. There is not much time left before the exams, but every student knows that the last days before taking the exam are crucial. How to plan your studies, how to help yourself and concentrate better, how to learn more effectively and find time to rest?

Prof. Joanna Mytnik, director of the Center for Innovative Education, whose passion is designing methods, tools and entire learning ecosystems, has prepared some tips for all students. It's worth trying them out!

1. Change your attitude

If you get down to studying and think, "I can't do it," then you won't. Change your attitude! Instead of thinking how much you loathe studying, take a proactive attitude: "OK, I have 6 days until the exam and I will use this time in the best way possible."

2. Change the way you work

Got a week or two left until the exam? Start acting!

Forget about everything you've been doing so far, stop reading, rewriting presentations, reviewing notes. These are superficial activities that only give you the impression that you are learning.

If you're short on time, then:

  1. Review the material.
  2. Decide what is most important.
  3. Make a mind map or a set of flashcards (if the material is long, make a quick summarizing note beforehand).
  4. Do revisions with flashcards (minimum five!).

Not until the third repetition will you start to feel that you are regaining control of the situation, so don't let go and keep revising!

3. Throw away your phone

When working in concentrated mode, remove the phone from your view, mute it and put it in your jacket pocket in the hallway. Seriously! Scientific research shows that our level of attention is significantly reduced if the phone is in sight.

4. Make a plan

For each subject, develop a schedule of activities over time and write it down!

  • Set a goal (exam date) and plan a route to get there.
  • List the topics (issues) in the subject.
  • Block working time for each issue in the calendar for each day by specifying a dedicated time period (time blocking).
  • Set yourself moments of revisions spread over time (minimum 5!). Attention! Do not revise the same part of material more than once a day. Spread them out over time, take longer and longer breaks (days: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8).

5. Learn actively

Reading is not effective. After reading the text:

  • make open-ended questions to the content
  • ask yourself repeatedly "why?" and search for answers
  • find associations, analogies, comparisons: associate new knowledge with something you already know, understand.
  • make a mind map
  • visualize content
  • say it aloud, imagine you are telling someone what you have just learned, talk to the mirror!

6. Make ‘to-do’ lists

Make short to-do lists! Ones that are truly doable, not wishful. Don't let your list scare you! 2 tasks, not 7 at a time! You can always add more if you have time. Task lists free up working memory.

7. Don't fall for the illusion of competence

Reading, including re-reading, underlining, highlighting passages, taking notes is not learning, and it gives you the false sense that you are learning. Memory traces are formed only when you repeat, recall information from memory. Not when you read or circle important catch phrases.

8. Take breaks

Your brain works, creates memory in 2 modes:

  1. concentrated (when you learn consciously) and
  2. distracted (when you stop focusing and let yourself rest).

Distracted mode is a mode of very intensive work of your brain "in the background" while you are resting. Your memory is then built, reorganized without your awareness.

After a period of hard work in concentrated mode (25 minutes), take a break (5-10 minutes), let your working memory make room for another portion of information and your brain has a chance to organize the information it has just acquired (Pomodoro technique) . Repeat sessions 25 + 5 several times a day for different parts of the material.

Remember: breaks are a key step in remembering! Never study continuously and all night long.

9. Plan your goodbye to work

When planning learning for the next day (short list of tasks!), plan a specific time to finish work in concentrated mode. Let your brain know there will be time to rest. Write this hour down on a piece of paper. And keep your word. Thanks to this, you will help yourself to switch to "off" mode and rest effectively. Your brain needs to know that after exertion comes the reward of relaxation (switching to distracted mode).

10. Get enough sleep

Sleep plays a key role in memory formation. During sleep, 2 extremely important processes take place:

  • brain cleansing (so you have a high level of attention the next day)
  • creating and reorganizing memory (hippocampus decides whether the information collected during the day will be remembered)

If you stay up all night, you are less likely to remember what you learn during the day.

Most importantly: get a good night's sleep the night before the exam!

Good luck! You can do it!