In this blog you have heard a lot from me about my advice, tips on exams and studying but when having a cup of coffee with a former client of mine, Neil, who passed his final Accounting exams a year ago, I thought it would be a great idea for him to share his 10 top tips for exam success. As someone who has been through the whole process and come out the other side, his advice is invaluable. Over to you Neil!
- Tip 1: Get a Mentor/Coach
Number 1 for a reason! You need someone to put pressure on you and keep you focused. I noticed that it helped bring everything together – the motivation, timeframe and even just having someone that will understand what you are going through. It is a must on these life changing exams. I found that James’ support was invaluable – give him a shout at jamesperryexamcoaching.com
- Tip 2: Organise, Organise, Organise
I organise everything! I have a list on my phone every day for what I have to do from start to finish, from small to big tasks, work, life and studying. But make sure it’s manageable, you don’t want to put yourself off doing them. I am also ruthless about getting rid of anything that doesn’t add value to my life. It all comes down to one thing for me – productivity!
Organise your work, life and studying into days and weeks and leave a buffer few days at the end of each 2 week period for anything that you don’t foresee. Don’t forget to rest, even if you’re having an “off week” you can deal with it.
- Tip 3: Study plan for any Exam
I like to use the diagram below to study. Foundation block – takes 3 weeks to do it (it’s pretty much just typing out my own summary notes in order to take in the chapter information). 4 weeks of my own “tutorials” (this is where the real learning comes into effect and you can test yourself from the summary notes and flashcards you have made, no more scanning through the detail of the book!) and then last 4 weeks exams style questions.
- Tip 4: Technology is your new best friend
Use a computer/ tablet to your advantage, most people can type faster than they can write these days! It’s also useful if, like me, you find it hard to take in information by reading. Try typing it out, you will not only slow yourself down to read it but also when answering the questions for tutorials you can short cut and take pictures of diagrams and embed them in your summary notes. Another thing is the new generation of apps available: useful apps for me include: “Notability”, “Mind map”, “Study”, “30/30” and “Mindful”. These are just a handful I use, depending on your type of learning you can adapt them to best suit you.
- Tip 5: Is your shit together?
Don’t care about what your peers are doing. You will always get that one person you hang about with that “doesn’t study”, if you are sitting 2 weeks before the test knowing that you are on top of things it’s a great feeling.
- Tip 6: Take ownership of your life
If you take ownership of your life and are passionate about self-improvement it is only a matter of time before you are the best at it. Don’t take it from me, take it from Conor McGregor!
- Tip 7: Killing procrastination
One way of reducing procrastination is keeping really busy and using pressure in a good way. The whole way through university I used to procrastinate all the time – it was easier to play FIFA than it was to go to the kitchen table and study!
Since I started working I realised I actually have more energy to study. Why? Because I don’t have time to sit around and mope about. If you are very busy and these exams are the most important thing to you at present, then you will find a way to get it done and as soon as that 15 min window opens up you will have the books open. Being so busy with work, exams and study actually helps. I also know that James has written a great blog on other ways to beat procrastination.
- Tip 8: Have something to look forward to
It is important that through all the mayhem of exams, you not only have a long term goal but also something short term to look forward to. A holiday is usually the one event I organise to count down and look forward to. That way you know you’re putting in all this time and effort but you’ll have something to look forward to.
- Tip 9: Sometimes 10 o’clock at night works
James may not like this one as he would suggest studying while completely fresh, but sometimes I enjoy staying up past 10 o’clock to study or at least type out my chapters because that’s my quiet time. I just put on some coffee and enjoy the silence. So find your time and enjoy it.
- Tip 10: Exam time – bit of a reality check
Just remember before you go into an exam, no matter what happens in the exam, you have put in one hell of an effort, and at the end of the day, it is only that…an exam! Your worst case scenario is you re-sit it – and at that stage you will definitely pass.
But don’t stress, you won’t fail. Get James on board, get the exam routine going and get it done!
So there you have it, some tips from someone who has been there, cheers Neil!