How to study to get the best results in exams

By grace.mccabe, 9 February, 2023

As a student entrepreneur, I tend to draw similarities between what is required of an entrepreneur and of a student. The key trait of both is that the one who succeeds is not always the most intelligent but the one who plans and prepares the best.

Exams can be stressful, especially because your grades can potentially determine your career choices and higher education journey. 

To excel as a student it is important to try to be a smart worker rather than a hard worker.

The most clichéd yet most effective tip to prepare for exams is to create a timetable and to-do list of everything you want to study in a day. This list provides you with direction and motivation because the satisfaction of checking off each task on a to-do list is unmatched.  

Within this to-do list, it is important to mix up your tasks to break up the monotony. Subjects or topics should be arranged as a mix of easy and hard or between theoretical and practical to keep your attention and focus.

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Beyond a to-do list, students can use an approach called the Pomodoro Technique, which breaks your study into four sets of 25 minutes. This is relevant for those with shorter attention spans. I learned about this technique during my exchange experience at Indiana University, facilitated by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). 

Alongside the Pomodoro Technique, make sure you take breaks to play sport, watch TV or spend time with your friends. Such breaks can help rejuvenate your mind and help you focus better on your studies. As an entrepreneur, I schedule work meetings between study sessions to transition from one subject to another.

During exam preparation, you could follow the HEAL principle, which stands for health, eat, ambience and love. 

  • Health: focus on your health by sleeping well and doing regular exercise.  
  • Eat: eat three healthy meals a day to ensure you have proper nutrition. 
  • Ambience: maintain a neat and motivating study environment, which will help you focus on studies. 
  • Love: spend time with people you love, such as friends and family. Interaction can help to both motivate and relax you.

Another way you can study for exams is through visualisation. You can arrange the content of a particular subject into graphs, charts, drawings or abbreviations for concepts. 

Get together with a set of friends and quiz each other on topics and potential exam questions. This format can help you learn from each other, where you can explain the topics you understand well and learn from your peers about the topics in which you are weaker.

After your exam, the key is detachment. This is best achieved by avoiding the urge to discuss the exam and the answers you gave with your peers. Regardless of how you think you did, your approach should be to move on and set your sights on the next exam. 

In conclusion, the most important thing is to know and practise your own effective study strategies that help you achieve productivity and results. Following study tips and tricks in a disciplined way is not only the key to success in college exams but in life as well. All the best, and remember, prioritise learning over grades! 


As an Indian student studying management and marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship at a Hong Kong university, Naman Tekriwal shares his top study tips

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