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Habits to Cultivate for Success in Exams:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Don’t we all know that one geek in class who is annoyingly brilliant when it comes to studies? You could either call them the Stephen Hawking or Marissa Mayer of your class. Doesn’t it often make you scratch your head and wonder: “Why I can’t do it too” or “Why has God made me so brainless.”

Whether you’re staying up all night for three days in a row, sustaining yourself on questionably edible items you find in the school cafeteria, or pushing the acceptable limits of human hygiene (it’s okay to wear the same clothes for two weeks straight, right?), you just can’t seem to get your act together and score well in exams.

Many students lose motivation when someone else is thriving, and feel as though they’re lagging behind. It is not uncommon, but if you’re thinking their learning ability is simply due to good genetics, you’re wrong. It’s more likely that they have cultivated better lifelong habits that never fail them and get them through the toughest days.

Here’s some advice I have for students who want to build positive habits to get success in exams and the rat race called ‘life’!

Beware of catastrophic thinking.

Most students believe that people are naturally good or bad at a subject and that just can’t be changed. You have to stay away from bad mindsets such as that – this is the first and foremost thing to keep in mind for success in exams. Classes can be hard, and tests looming over you can give you anxiety. I get that. Try to study when you are in a positive mood, and try not to get stressed out while studying (putting your phone away can help with this).

If you are doing great in some subjects but not others, it is easy to become frustrated and start thinking negatively. Don’t get alarmed; one bad grade doesn’t ruin a semester. If you can figure out where your problems are coming from, you can fix them more easily. It will keep you from feeling like you can’t change how you are doing in the class. Resigning yourself to failure before you begin is not an option in any aspect of life.

Take a break when tired, and push through when you can.

Don’t we all hit a wall when we’re studying or working on an assignment? That feeling of frustration and “OMG this is too hard?” Get up and take a break in such situations. Even a short break will help you push through. This is one of the most important things to cultivate for success in exams. Finding a short exercise routine to do during this time is something you’ll enjoy. Plus, exercise balances neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which is good for your brain.

However, when we want to take a break, most of the time it’s not because we have studied too hard or are tired to continue. Be honest with yourself. You get up because Big Bang Theory is on, or because someone sent you a bunch of videos of guinea pigs and you need to watch them. Getting in the habit of studying when you’ve scheduled a time to do it every day will make the laborious become routine.

Get Adequate Sleep.

The exact amount of sleep required by you will mostly be unique to you, although it should at least be seven hours per night. Many screw up their exams pretty badly because they had trouble sleeping the night before. Make sure that this doesn’t happen to you as sleep is a really good stress buster before exams. 🙂

Try being an early bird instead of a night owl. But don’t force yourself too much, some people are meant to be night owls. Try to understand and trust your internal body clock on this. Sometimes, it’s okay to get a quick nap during the day to feel rejuvenated.

Ask for help when you need it.

Let’s admit it! Most of us don’t like to accept the fact that we can’t do something. Remember that asking for help does not equate to your failing. On the contrary, you are pushing yourself towards accomplishing what you need to. It’s awesome to get your doubts cleared, not something to be ashamed of. Ask for help it as soon as you think you need it. Putting it off will just stress you out more.

Just FYI — this does not mean ask Google. Find someone who has knowledge about the subject you need help in and consult them.

Say NO to Laziness and Procrastination.

Laziness, unnecessary sleep and procrastination will never let you live a successful life. Create morning routines, must-do lists and stop procrastinating your work. When you stay committed to your target and set deadlines, you’ll have no reason to procrastinate.

Understand that procrastination is a spirit that controls the human mind into thinking that they’ll always have time. But the problem is that we think we have time. So, get started and pick up that subject you’ve been planning to work on since a few weeks or should I say months?

Read more about how procrastination never works in this interesting article.

Create specific and realistic goals.

You won’t achieve your daily goals if they are not realistic. Can you actually master 3 chapters in one sitting? Probably not. If you can, you shouldn’t need this article. You’ll have much better results if you divide large tasks into smaller units. If you have course outlines with advance assignments, you could set systematic daily goals so that you would be able to cover everything that is coming up on your exam.

If you aren’t used to studying for long periods of time, start with relatively short periods of concentrated study, with breaks in between.

Pro Tip: Treat your days in college the way you’d treat your first days in the real world. Cultivate the habits while still in school/college to set yourself up for success in your personal and professional life. That way, you won’t be too shocked with the transition from the former to the latter. Make the most of every moment you have, and good luck!

What is your ultimate tip for students who want to achieve success in exams? Let us know in the comments section below!

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