Study week is a hard concept to grapple with; on one hand, it’s your first full week off from college since the start of the semester, and you’re inclined to think of it as a ‘break’, while on the other, it’s a week you’re expected to devote to exam preparation. So how is it possible to make sense of a week off from college that you’re most likely going to spend in the library or some other quiet place studying? Here are a few tips from SIN Lifestyle Editor Kayleigh McCoy on how best to deal with study week.
- Make a timetable…
I know this is an obvious first point, but it really cannot be stressed how important it is to have a set schedule for the week, otherwise it just becomes too easy to drift in and out of random chapters with no set purpose. The best thing to do is sit down for a solid period of time and go through each of the exams you have coming up. Look at which sections will most likely come up in each exam, how many topics you’ll need to cover in order to be fully covered and what you can afford to leave out. For example, if you have to compare two books for an English exam, and you’ve read five, consider focusing on the three you enjoyed most in detail, and have one more you’re confident on. This will save time and effort later on.
- … And stick to it!
Once you’ve done this, allocate how much time you will spend on each topic per day. Not all topics will get the same amount of attention, though, and you should consider giving more time to areas you struggled with during the semester, while you may be able to reduce revision hours on things you found easier. Don’t overestimate how much you can get done in one day, be realistic and set achievable goals.
- Remember to take breaks.
Depending on how many exams you have, study week can be pretty intense, so it’s important to remember to take regular breaks. This doesn’t mean going and watching three episodes of the latest Netflix series after an hour of study. The best thing to do is, after revising each topic, taking a short break that will allow you to clear your head. Go for a quick walk, enjoy a cup of tea or listen to some music. Try to avoid doing something that will make going back to study hard, like starting an hour long TV show; these short breaks should act as a refreshment period, not a chance to snuggle up on the couch for a quick movie and a snooze.
- Find out what works for you, and don’t worry about anyone else.
It has been scientifically proven that there is three different primary types of ‘learners’: auditory learners, who learn by listening, visual learners who learn by seeing and kinetic learners who learn by doing. Most people will have a good idea what kind of learner they are after sitting the leaving cert, but if you haven’t found out what technique works best for yourself yet don’t worry. Some people are a mixture of all three, while others are completely resigned to one way of learning. If you find the way you study at the moment isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to change up how you study. There are loads of tests online which help you work out what study method works best for you, and once you find out what’s right for you, studying becomes a lot easier!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
At the start of the year, lecturers and tutors always give out their contact details, yet when study week hits, everyone seems to forget this. If you are really struggling with a certain section of the course, don’t be afraid to get in contact with your lecturer and ask them for some guidance. This will never look bad on your part, and on the contrary, most lectures will be impressed you were smart enough to ask for help. To this day, I have never asked a tutor or lecturer for help who hasn’t been more than happy to help! At the end of the day, that is what they are there for and they want you to do well too.
- Make the most of what you’ve got.
Although it might not be the most appealing option for some students, consider staying up in Galway for study week. Yes, you might miss out on mammy’s home cooking for a whole week, but you also might escape your annoying siblings and all the home comforts that might distract you from studying. It could be really advantageous for some students to make use of the NUI Galway library during study week, especially if they don’t have a quiet place at home to study. Similarly, the library offers you with an endless supply of resources to help with your exams that are super handy to have waiting there for you. Staying in Galway also means that if you do decide you need help from a lecturer, they aren’t that far away and you’ll have the opportunity to talk to them in person about your problem, rather than relying on an email.
- Don’t forget, it is okay to stop studying at the end of the day…
This tip acts as a reminder for those people who get super stressed during study week, and go overboard, refusing to do anything that will drag them away from the books. These exams are important, but you’ll stop yourself doing your absolute best in them if you burn yourself out during study week. It’s healthy to allow yourself to close the books for a while and forget about exams. Going to the cinema, meeting up with friends for food or even just planning a relaxing night in are all great ways to take a step back and give your brain a rest.
- … But try avoid going on a major sesh!
However, it’s best to avoid going out as a way of taking a break and rewarding yourself for studying all day. Going out doesn’t give you a chance to relax or unwind, and usually ends up costing you the next day, be it through a hangover or from fatigue due to being out late. This will eat into the next day of study, and will mess up your timetable, causing more unnecessary stress.
- Watch what you eat.
It sounds odd, but it’s really important to be aware of what you are eating during study week. Just like during your actually exams, you are going to want to eat full meals that supply a lot of slow release energy. Starting off your day with porridge and some fruit is a brilliant way to begin a day of study. Snacks like tuna, nuts and even dark chocolate are prefect fuel too. When it comes to dinner, try include a nice amount of carbohydrates, be that through rice, pasta or sweet potato and lots of veggies too. However, don’t look at study week as a time when you can’t eat junk food or indulge yourself. By all means, order a pizza one of the nights and buy a ton of sweets a different night; you’ve been working hard and definitely deserve it! Just try to avoid these foods while you’re studying, and wait till you’re done with the books for the night before ordering that take away!
- Keep calm and carry on.
At the end of the day, it is important that you remember to keep calm. These are just exams, and no matter how important they are, all you can do is your best. Once you put the work in and really give it your all, there is no reason you should be disappointed come results time. Of course things happen sometimes that are out of your control, but you should always take refuge in giving it your best shot; once you do that you should be extremely proud of yourself.
-By Kayleigh McCoy