Ask LH: How Can I Maximise Exam Performance?

Dear Lifehacker, Exams are just around the corner/consuming our every waking moment for us university students right now and I’ve been wondering if there are extra things I should be doing, study aside, that could get me that extra edge during exams. Are there ways I can mentally prepare? Are there ways I can physically prepare? I will be studying to my utmost and am looking for ways to essentially, get the most out of my mind/body. Thanks, Studying Hard

Picture by Jixar

Dear Studying Hard,

Long-time readers will know that I’ve been out of university longer than some university students have been alive, so I’d definitely welcome reader input here. But there are some obvious areas to start with:


The obvious bottom line: make sure you’re getting plenty. We’ve run lots of sleep-related advice, including dealing with insomnia, using technology and setting a good daily routine. Don’t make the mistake of pulling all-nighters. Your body and mind will hate you and your results will be worse/


This is not the time to be eating junk food. If you can afford it, then having takeaway food may give you more time to study, but choose healthier alternatives rather than overdosing on burgers and pizza. And save the drinking for when you’ve finished exams. Coffee has a major impact on your brain, so don’t go nuts on that either.


Obviously you want to do well, but if you spend all your time studying and don’t set aside any time to decompress, you’ll end up with worst results. You need time away from each topic to let the information sink in. Also make sure you get some exercise; being crouched over a desk or a PC for hours on end is clearly bad news.

Kotaku’s associate editor Tracey Lien offers a useful practical suggestion: make sure you schedule a definite cut-off time for studying each night, and then allow time to wind down before you go to bed. That can be watching TV or going on Facebook or baking a cake; just make sure you have a definite cool-down period.

Inform others

Obviously, exam period is not a time when you’ll be going out, or helping friends organise a wedding, or any other non-essential task. Make sure friends and family are aware you’re heading into an exam period.

The final pointer? Be an organised student throughout the year. If you’ve been slack and lazy, you’ll be tense and worried ahead of exams, and you’ll do even worse. Having an organised approach will reap dividends throughout.

What else do current or former students advise to survive and thrive during exams? Share your wisdom in the comments.


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