Everybody gets just 24 hours in a day; what matters is how well you use them. While preparing for a certification exam or a standardized test like the SAT, GMAT, CompTIA exam, etc., efficient time management can make the difference between an average score and an exceptional one. The goal is not to maximize the number of study hours. Instead, the goal is to make sure that you apply yourself completely for a fixed duration of time.
Lots has been said and written about time management and its advantages. However, most of it is easier said than done. During prep time, it is only natural for you to get anxious about the sheer volume of the syllabus. In the middle of this chaos, your ability to think straight might take a major hit. To prevent this, use some of these concrete, easy-to-follow suggestions.
Use organizational tools
Instead of using your iPad or your iPhone to play games or chat with friends, download some productivity-enhancing apps that allow you to make to-do lists, set goals and reminders, make time tables etc. Alternatively, you could also go the traditional way and use a regular calendar or planner.
While you are at it, sort out your desk and work towards creating a stable and organized framework during the prep time. If your books are arranged alphabetically or by subject, it will be easier for you to locate them. Additionally, make sure that your desk set-up reminds you of your immediate goals. For instance, if you are particularly weak at a topic or if you need to remember a list by heart, place these items well within your circle of vision. When they are glaring into your face perennially, you will be forced to take notice.
Remember that you are human
While devising a study plan, remind yourself that you aren't a superhero. In other words, set realistic goals for yourself. This way, you will feel a sense of achievement when you finish a designated task and you can move on to the next one with high spirits.
Additionally, keep changing your schedule regularly. Your mind gets too accustomed to a study plan, and monotony begins to set in. To avoid this, get innovative with your study breaks and think of activities that release tension, like drawing, painting, baking, or swimming.
Don't forget to sleep
Need we tell you about the importance of sleep? Not only does it relax and recuperate your body and mind, it also consolidates the information stored in your mind. Therefore, try to get power naps immediately after a long study session in addition to a good night's sleep. Soon enough, you'll find that these naps work wonders for your memory and retention skills. In addition, for the week before your test, make sure that you get a full night's sleep each and every night so that your brain and body are working at optimum levels.
Prep time is all about making the right choices. Learn to prioritize your tasks by assigning each of them with a priority rating. If you are preparing for GRE, go through practice tests and analyze the breakdown of questions. More often than not, there will be a clear pattern in place and some topics will have more questions than others. Assign these topics the highest priority rankings and devote extra time to them. Additionally, if you are particularly weak at some subjects, they must go on top of the priority chart as well.
Learning techniques work
Learning tricks might seem too simplistic but they are known to be very effective. For instance, if you are trying to cram the periodic table, use trick acronyms. Or, if you have to memorize anything in general, link it to an image or a sound; basically, make it strikingly absurd so that it stays with you. Similarly, while understanding more conceptual topics, try to imagine a map within your mind and place certain topics in a logical order on this map. At every step, you will be working towards a complete picture. During the exam, you can simply recall this map and everything else will fall into place. Check out our article on hacking your memory for more memory devices!
Study time isn't endless
You might become agitated and lose track of your study plan from time to time. Whenever this happens, take a long break and do something you truly enjoy - watch a movie, play your guitar, or hang out with friends. Then get back to the books, reminding yourself that when the test is over, you'll have time to enjoy more of these activities. Finally, reward yourself when the study plan is followed!
If you follow these suggestions, nothing can stop you from acing your test. Good luck!
Hankering for more knowledge? You might also be interested in our article on time management during an exam.