The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Balancing Studies and Exam Preparations: A Student’s Guide to Effective Learning


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Balancing regular studies with exam preparations, especially difficult and competitive exams like the bar exam, can feel not only challenging but overwhelming at times. Assignments, projects, exam prep, personal commitments and obligations…the pressure of it all can sometimes feel anxiety-inducing

But it doesn’t have to be that way—with some careful planning and better organization, you can successfully balance your studies, exam preparations, and social life. 

It All Starts with a Solid Plan

Having a solid, well-structured learning plan is crucial here. So, start by mapping out your entire semester, including deadlines for assignments, project submissions, and exam dates. Then, break them into manageable chunks and assign specific times for each.

It’s best to use a planner or calendar (physical or digital, whatever you prefer) when planning so you can keep track of your schedule. This way, you can visualize your workload and ensure you’re covering all bases without last-minute cramming.

Next Up, Time Management

Time management is your best friend here; learn how to master it and you’ll easily balance studies with any exam preparation. And the secret to better time management? Prioritization.

Start by prioritizing tasks you’ve written in your planner or calendar based on their urgency and importance. Then, use time management techniques such as Pomodoro to study with laser focus subjects that require a lot of concentration. 

You should also set aside dedicated time slots for your regular studies and separate ones for exam prep. For example, if you’re preparing for something as demanding as the Texas bar exam, creating a detailed timetable that includes specific study goals for each session can be incredibly beneficial.

Use Active Learning Techniques

Passive reading won’t cut it when balancing studies and exam prep – you need to engage with the material through active learning strategies by thinking deeply about it, discussing it with others (if you thrive on interaction), and asking questions about the material in order to challenge your knowledge about it.

Practically speaking, you can try summarizing what you’ve read in your own words or teach the concepts to a friend (or even to an imaginary audience). Creating mind maps to connect ideas is another excellent way to actively learn about any subject. 

You should regularly practice retrieval by testing yourself, too; you can make your own practice questions or use those provided by the instructor or found in the book. Flashcards can also be of great help here.

Technology as Study Buddy

To improve your learning and organization, use tools and apps like Quizlet for flashcards, Anki for spaced repetition, and Evernote for organizing notes. If applicable to your studies, consider using online resources such as Khan Academy, Coursera, or even good old YouTube – there are plenty of tutorials available on a wide range of subjects that can help enhance your learning.

If you need help with managing projects or tracking your progress, use tools like Trello or Asana. However, be weary of distractions; keep social media and unrelated apps at bay during study times.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Maintaining your physical and mental health is important at all times, but especially during exams. So, make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet and regularly exercise (a 30-minute walk is great when you’re too tired for anything else). And don’t forget sleep—studies show that poor or insufficient sleep can impair cognitive function. Always aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.

Likewise, short breaks and relaxation techniques, like meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you manage stress better and even improve your focus, so try to incorporate them into your everyday routine. 

And remember to stay flexible and positive. Sometimes, unexpected events or challenges will disrupt your schedule, no matter how structured and disciplined you are. When they happen, try your best not to panic – keep focused, stay organized, and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly. The effort you put in now will pay off when you see the results of your hard work.

Branded content furnished by our promotional partners. The Daily Sundial editorial staff is not involved in its production. Content does not reflect the views or opinions of the editorial staff.
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