Authored by: Rithik V.
I had a serious routine back when I was doing my A-level exams a couple years ago. Sadly, the motivation to do this came from me actually almost failing my AS levels (Well, I got mostly Ds the first time around, not quite a fail since there’s still an E left before a fail).
The routine consisted of this:
- I studied a total of 6 hours a day, every day. I ensured my family knew to leave me alone during the designated revision time.
- I would study in one hour periods, with a half hour break between hours. I could do whatever I wanted during this time, as long as it didn’t overrun into my study time.
- I’d take an hour long break at 1 o’clock for lunch.
- I’d make sure I ended at 6PM and did literally nothing related to studying afterwards for the rest of the night.
- Hit the sack at 11PM sharp, get a good 9 hours sleep.
That was how I did it, and it seriously worked, because I was so scared I wasn’t going to get into my chosen uni. I ended up getting an ABC as my final results. If you’re American, or operate outside a British related school system, these grades might seem confusing. Just know I pulled my grades up from almost all Ds to an A, B, and a C grade for my finals, and that’s pretty good. I wouldn’t say I’m the smartest guy around, but hard work beats talent.
The best tricks were to do stuff like this:
- Try and avoid fast food. The temptation to eat junk food all the time is a serious thing, especially as when you’re done studying the last thing you feel like doing is cooking, but it seriously made me feel better, and helped me clear my mind. I ate a lot of veggies. This also prevents you packing on a load of weight during exam season, which is when a lot of people in education do. Exercise often take a back seat, and if you eat junk food you can really feel it on your waist line.
- Pulling all nighters before an exam is a bad idea. Second year of uni right now, and my finals are also coming around. I see all nighters happen all the time, and trust me, they don’t do anything. I’ve known people to miss their exams because they passed out around dawn and woke up around 6PM. It just exhausts you and prevents your mind from working efficiently.
- Organisation is King. I tried to persuade myself during my AS levels that getting all my papers together and preparing my notes during my hour long study sessions counted as revision. It’s absolutely not true because you effectively trick yourself into believing you did more studying than you really did, and when exams come around suddenly you’re wondering why you did 20 hours of revision but barely scraped a pass. Get all your stuff together the night before, and that way everything can roll together nice and smooth.
- Get music you’re going to be able to listen to without getting distracted by. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics when I study, so I just listen to all-instrumental bands off of YouTube for the hour. Works really well, because there’s background noise that doesn’t really grab your attention.
- Long-term studying beats last minute cramming every single time. I studied for two months straight, 7 days a week when I was in school. It sucked, but it led to results. I got high grades in all my A2-level exams (AS and A2 are year 12 and year 13 for us. The two years are basically 50% each for your overall grades.) I dragged my grades up from Ds because I got a tonne of As. Last minute cramming doesn’t help because it basically goes in and goes straight back out.
- Coffee it up. I basically drank one cup of coffee for every hour of studying I did, so 6 cups a day. It was a lot, but it really helped me. However, the worst thing to do is drink lots of Redbull. That will do nothing other than cause you to get jittery, and suddenly you have waaaay too much energy to be sitting still and studying. One or two every now and then are fine.
- Take it one step at a time. Seriously, this is perhaps the biggest one you need to know. I know people who try and get through their entire book in one day. Yeah, you can get through 7 chapters in a day. But man, you’re not going to remember any of it, because all you wanted to do was get through 7 chapters that day. The best way I found was to read a chapter, make notes, and then read through the notes. This for me would usually take up an hour of my time at least, sometimes two depending on how big the chapter was. Sometimes I’d make notes of my notes – as stupid as it sounded, it worked like magic. I’d have all these heavily condensed notes that one or two words would help click back into place that paragraph I read earlier, because I’d have a couple generation of notes in my head about the subject.
- Adapt your social life. I’ll keep this as my last one, as this is a massive wall of text, and if you’re still reading at this point I’d be quite surprised. The best thing to do instead of completely putting your social life on hold (which is what I suggested) adapt your social life to things such as dinner with friends in the evening after studying. That way you won’t resent working.