Reaching your academic potential is about studying smarter, not harder.
Whether you’re in high school or university, the exam period can be one of the most stressful times in your life. So when it comes to achieving your academic goals, how you study for your exams is just as important as what you study.
Dr Petra Skeffington, Associate Professor Clinical Psychology at Murdoch University, provides her tips and tricks into how to make the most of your study.
Manage your stress
When it comes to managing your stress, preparation is key. "Plan ahead by considering the key lifestyle factors you need to maintain, including sleep, exercise and nutrition, and build a routine that will protect your physical and emotional health under pressure,” says Dr Skeffington.
When working out how much sleep you should get every night, everyone is different. "The amount of sleep you need may be different from your friends; however, most of us need between eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. If you’re getting less than this, it may impact your physical and emotional health."
While it may be tempting to pull an all-nighter to cram, this is often counterproductive as memory and learning are consolidated during sleep. Oversleeping messes with your internal body clock, resulting in feelings of lethargy and fatigue.
Fuel your body
Diet is also an essential part of achieving academic success, "What you eat fuels your brain, so if you're not eating a balanced diet you can’t produce the necessary neurotransmitters for your brain and mind to function well,” says Dr Skeffington. Beware of energy drinks like Red Bull which can increase your nerves and leave you feeling worn-out after an initial burst of energy.
With over 70 per cent of our body and 80 per cent of our brain composed of water, eight to 10 glasses of water is the perfect amount to drink each day. Avoid juices and energy drinks which can be packed with sugar and leave you feeling dehydrated. "Mild dehydration can change your mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly. Keep a bottle of water nearby when studying, to ensure you are drinking enough,” says Dr Skeffington.
Trust your gut
What works for someone else might not work for you. "Trust your responses to find what is most helpful for you. Sometimes taking a short time to be outside, or notice your environment, can give you a ‘meditation-like’ break and refresh your mind."
And if you're wondering whether taking a quiz about study counts as procrastination or not, we'd say it's definitely an informative way to spend a quick study break!
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