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Aug 08

BA DegreeExams and tests can be very stressful, even more so if you’re unprepared.But these top study tips from The Independent Institute of Education's Varsity College are bound to make learning easier and more effective. 

Read your notes out loud

If you’re studying in a private area like your room, then this is a great way to retain more information and quicker. You are more likely to remember something faster if you read it out loud to yourself instead of reading it silently over and over again. Be considerate though. Do not try this in a library or while you’re sitting in class.

Treat yourself while you study

Studying is easier when you reward yourself for covering entire sections or reaching goals you’ve set for yourself. There are so many ways to do this, so incentivise yourself with things you enjoy. If you have a sweet tooth then you could treat yourself with a gummy bear for each section you cover. Music lovers could treat themselves to a song after each learning unit or chapter. These small victories will make studying for a test a bigger achievement. You’ll find it easier to remember theory based on your rewards. It is also a good way of boosting your morale during stressful times.

Diagrams, acronyms and visual associations

Taking what you’ve learned and turning it into a diagram or making some sort of rhyme or acronym around it will make it easy to recall when you need to. What you choose to do, depends on what works for you. If you’re more of a visual person, then diagrams and mind maps will be better. Whether it’s an actual drawing or something you’ve made up in your head, this is a handy study hack that can help you remember all those facts.

Times New Roman is the best study font

If you’re typing out your study notes then use Times New Roman. The font’s size and easy to read letters make it an ideal font for learning and note taking purposes. You can also space out your notes into smaller paragraphs. This will make them easier to read, digest and remember. A page filled with text and no breaks is more daunting than multiple pages with some big gaps.

Test yourself with flash cards

Flash cards are useful when testing your understanding and memory of quotes, definitions and key concepts. The key to making good flash cards is keeping them short. A key card should only have one word, anything longer can be confusing and hard to remember.

Take study breaks

When you’ve been studying for a long time your brain needs a short break every now and then to absorb the information. The Pomodoro technique suggests that you should take a 5-minute break after a 30 minute study session. This gives you time to unwind and process what you’ve learned. It will also help keep you refreshed by distancing yourself from your work and then returning with a clear mind. Plan your study schedule according to this rule to make the most of your time.


Meditation is a study tool that helps you relax and stay calm before an exam. Meditation does more than just soothe the mind. It also helps keep your body comfortable after long hours behind your desk. Don’t let pre-exam anxiety slow you down. Give this stress relieving study hack a go.

Get a good night’s sleep before your exam

It is not a good idea to stay up all night learning before an exam. You should give yourself plenty of learning time before the exam and spend the day before revising. By getting a good rest before your exam, your brain will be able to better digest what you’ve learned. You also need to feel well rested and be at your best while writing your exams.

Take a walk before your exam

This final study hack will help you clear your mind and focus on the exam ahead. Take a 10 – 20-minute stroll to clear your mind right before your exam. By worrying or stressing yourself out, you are making it harder on yourself and will not be able to perform as well. Any light exercise will clear your mind and will help get you in the zone.


The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH Group, Africa's largest private education provider. The IIE is the largest, most accredited registered private higher education institute in South Africa, and the only one accredited by The British Accreditation Council (BAC), the independent quality assurance authority that accredits private institutions in the UK. By law, private higher education institutions in South Africa may not call themselves Private Universities, although registered private institutions are subject to the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight as Public Universities.

The IIE has a history in education and training since 1909, and its brands - Rosebank College, Varsity College, The Business School at Varsity College and Vega - are widely recognised and respected for producing workplace-ready graduates, many of whom become industry-leaders in their chosen fields. The IIE offers a wide range of qualifications, from post-graduate degrees to short courses, on 20 registered higher education campuses across South Africa.

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