It’s that time of the year again when most students desperately try to find the best combination of diets and mannerisms to maximise their studying efficiency. Well, as always, we’re here to help.
We’ve compiled a list of seven, scientifically-proven study hacks for you to integrate into your exam ritual. You’re welcome.
1. Change your scenery
Studies have found that it actually really helps to do your revision of the same subjects in a different place. Our brains are constantly trying to form new environmental associations with the exact same material, so that material automatically becomes a stronger memory. Make use of the fact that everywhere in Malta is literally minutes away, and get a change of scenery every once in a while.
If you’re studying on a weekend, consider going on a tour of beautiful picnic areas with your files!
2. Bring music to your ears… and brain
Most of us already have a particular artist, genre or even specific playlist that we listen to while studying, and it could very well vary from Beethoven to Nicki Minaj. The big takeaway is that it has been scientifically proven that music – of any sort really – has a very long list of benefits, including helping to reduce physiological stress.
While classical music is always brought up in these discussions, and is indeed a perfect way to ease yourself into sleep, there’s really no genre that’s off limits. So why not make the most of this scientific opportunity and check out some awesome Maltese-language songs?
3. Remember: bil-qatra l-qatra (drop by drop)
Let’s face it – we’ve all have at least one experience of leaving studying till the very last minute and trying to cram all the information at once. You wouldn’t be surprised, perhaps, to learn that that doesn’t really work.
Now that you’ve hopefully got enough of a head-start, consider what’s been dubbed “spaced repetition“, where you basically constantly review and repeat small chunks of information over a long period of time, eventually getting to the final product at a point when you vividly remember everything about it.
Maybe consider breaking down a topic into tiny snippets and reviewing each piece with different people. Then, closer to the exams, open a good old WhatsApp group with everyone and review the whole thing after you’ve done gossiping about your friend’s irrational breakup.
4. Reduce test anxiety with fatty acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, to be exact (before you all rush off to the nearest drive-thru and blame us for the binge-eating marathon). Studies have shown that consuming food that contains these will drastically decrease test anxieties, and eating certain types of healthy fat is actually essential. The human brain is composed of 60% fat and uses an impressive 20% of the body’s metabolic energy, so it’s definitely going to need some fuel!
Amongst the best omega-3 fatty acid foods are nuts and fish, which we not only have quite a lot of in Malta, but also excel at. If you have a family lunch or dinner coming up before your exams, make the most of this opportunity to get some fatty acids in your system, especially if you’re heading down to somewhere like Marsaxlokk.
No, really! If you’re going to be staring at a piece of paper (or even worse, a computer screen) for a couple of hours, switch things up at regular intervals. Research suggests that meditation can not only reduce anxiety, but also boost attention span.
While it’s only the conventional, regular meditation that’s focused upon in these studies, there’s definitely no harm in trying out different methods of calming yourself down through that new rewarding hobby you’ve picked up for 2017!
6. Study when sleepy
Hear us out – we’re not saying you should leave all of your studies for when you’re absolutely knackered, and we’re definitely not implying your bring work into the actual bed, since that’s been proven to be even more disastrous to getting a good night’s sleep (as a lot of you might already know). But there have been studies that show that revising a few minutes right before going to sleep can be beneficial. While you’re asleep, your brain strengthens new memories, which means there’s a very good chance that the last thing of the day will be easily and effectively stored.
Maybe that’s why a lot of us still vividly remember that Harry Potter chapter we read while dozing off ten years ago… So why not put in some valuable information in there as well? Just be sure your plan doesn’t backfire and you end up staying up too late every night!
7. Take regular, planned workout breaks
This one incorporates at least three different studies. First of all, actually planning out your day is one of the most important skills you can have at any point in your life, especially when you’re a student. Don’t have vague goals – break up your week into small tasks that you’ve slotted into particular times. Secondly, it’s a well-known fact (which has recently been backed up by various scientific papers) that regular breaks actually boost productivity, especially when we need to focus on one single task.
Last but not least, to properly put those two points to their maximum potential, use your breaks to also break a sweat. Research has shown that even half an hour of aerobic exercise qualifies as a great way to boost brainpower, and it’s always great to have something helping on both a mental and physical front. And hey, couple that with a couple of weight loss hacks, and you’ll be acing tests and losing weight in no time! Hello impossible Maltese summer body!