Unlocking ADHD writer Constance Thum explores last minute study hacks ADHD students may undertake to handle the revision for and stress of upcoming exams at Unlocking ADHD’s inaugural Youth Panel.
View the slides from the webinar here.
Study Hacks for Group Studying
For ADHD students especially, roping in a friend or even a family member to act as a body double (read more) may be extremely helpful. This practice of having a study and life companion has benefits like keeping students accountable and staying motivated, as well as reducing anxiety since there is someone going through similar challenges (read more).
As in the case of study dates, setting up a daily timetable (e.g. breakfast > subject 1 > lunch > subject 2 > break etc) may help ADHD students preparing for nearing exams use their time wisely while avoiding over-straining themselves. Body doubles remind students that studying hard together can also mean playing hard together!
An opportunity to revise, practice, teach, and learn content among friends
A few tips ADHD students may consider when arrange study dates include:
- Setting a clear agenda beforehand (e.g. subjects or assignments to cover)
- Split topics – summarize and test each other
- Compiling a music playlist if it helps you study
- Wearing comfortable clothing and choosing a comfortable setting (e.g. space with aircon, food and drinks to buy, etc)
- Taking mental breaks in between and moving about once in a while to increase productivity and studying stamina (read more)
- Consider group size and friends with similar study habits to minimise distractions
- Following up and motivating each other continuously even after the study date
Studying While Staying Home During COVID
With the pandemic, many students may choose to stay home despite wishing to study with friends. A few alternatives to in-person study dates are
- Studying together via interactive platforms like Zoom, Discord, etc.
- Joining a virtual study room with strangers found on Zoom, Discord’s Study Together, etc.
- Playing “Study with Me” videos found on Youtube to mimic an in-person study dates
Study Hacks for Subject and Time Management
With limited time at hand, strategic planning and time management can help ADHD students juggling multiple subjects or topics. Some tried and tested methods include:
Traffic lighting categorises subjects into three proficiency levels, red, orange and green.
- Red topics: Unfamiliar content that requires priority for revision
- Orange topics: Content that is vaguely known but still needs further revision
- Green topics: (content familiarised and grasped well).
Based on these proficiency levels, students should prioritise the topics marked in red and orange, in which they should consult a teacher to clarify any doubts, or put it higher on the list for a study session.
The Pomodoro Method
Based on a tomato kitchen timer, the Pomodoro method (read more) breaks your study session down into manageable blocks. In a 30 minute block of studying, allocate 25 minutes for intense focus, and 5 minutes for a short break to refresh your mind. You can then continue another block of studying, or extend the study periods and breaks accordingly.
Ten Year Series and Past Exam Papers
In exams, practical application is key, and past exam papers (ten year series books) can help you be better prepared for the kinds of questions that will show up in your exam paper. While the past year exam papers do date back to the last ten years, you should focus on the papers from the last five years, which would be more relevant due to syllabus changes. Mimicking exam conditions by having timed practices will gear you up mentally to tackle the exams as you practice using past exam papers.
Making a Study Timetable
To help you visualise how you should allocate your study time, making a timetable to ensure you cover all the content you need can help you study more efficiently.
- Tip 1: Work Backwards
Fill in the breaks, giving yourself enough time to recharge after each block of studying. Color code your subjects according to the traffic lighting method (red, orange and green), and pay more attention to the subjects in red.
- Tip 2: Be Realistic
Plan your study according to what you know you can handle. Don’t overload your timetable with too many subjects – spread them out equally throughout the week! Set a realistic study period that will give you as much time to revise that isn’t too overwhelming.
On Gaming and Phone Use
While online games and surfing the internet can be tempting, they can also be an obstacle in your efforts to study. If you can, quit social media and gaming cold turkey during the critical period before examinations. If not, allocate a certain block of time in your schedule (e.g. at the end of the week or day) for your gaming and phone use, and only allow yourself to use your phone during those periods. Be sure to avoid using your phone before you sleep to ensure undisrupted sleep when the brain processes information learnt during the day (read more).
Handling Exam Stress and Anxiety
- Blogging / journaling to relieve stress (read more)
- Talking with friends about challenges faced and anxieties
- Planning rewards for chapters or topics finished e.g. the occasional indulgence in comfort foods, a controlled break on Youtube, etc.
- Self-care, self-encouragement, and learning to forgive hiccups during exam preparation
- Exercising to release endorphins and to get the brain moving (read more)
- Communicating with parents as a way to manage stress from parents
Ultimately, exams are a cognitively and psychologically intense period, and last minute preparation compounds these challenges. Yet, all hope is not yet lost and the last minute study and stress-relief hacks this article has raised may help students tide through this difficult time. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you are halfway there.”
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