12 study tips for the January exams


Christmas break flew by and now exam season is lurking. The last thing you wanted to think about during the festive seasonwere assignment deadlines and January exams – and now, here we are…

This December I was no longer spending the holiday season in Pennys’ cosy Christmas pyjamas. I was in sunny South Africa, struck by the beauty of Johannesburg. However, whilst relaxing by the pool, the thought of exams was still in the back of my mind.

It’s important to feel prepared for getting your college work done but also that you remember to take some time out when you need it.

Here are 12 study tips to help you during this exam season

1. Check your Dates and Venue

Check the exam timetable on the Maynooth website to see the dates and venues you are writing your exam. If you are registered with the access office and have study accommodations i.e., extra time you might be put in a different venue than your peers so keep eye out for communication about the venue you are writing in. 

2. Know what your lecturers want

Before you start studying a topic, review your syllabus and write down your lecturer’s learning objectives for that topic. You can find the learning objectives for each subject on the course finder on the Maynooth website. Reviewing your syllabus will help you refine the important information that you are expected to know, be able to do, or value taking that module. 

3. Create your own study space

Choose a place that is comfortable, no distractions and free from clutter when finding a place to study. If you on campus during the study break check the days when the library is available or if you are at home find a quiet, well-lit area that is available to you whenever you need to study.Switch your phone off to limit distractions.

4. Set yourself goals (realistic goals) and evaluate your expectations 

Many people waste time when they study because they don’t have a plan. Try creating a study plan by setting study goals based on the learning objectives (study tip 2). Make sure when you are setting your study goals that you are being realistic as you won’t be able study 24/7 so to help achieve the goals you set keep in mind the days you probably won’t be able to study. 

5. Ask for help!

Ask your friends and family for help if you need it. You can organise study groups in person or over zoom. The library has study rooms available for study groups to meet – the booking slots for group study rooms can be found on the library website. If you are away from campus during the study break, try meeting over zoom. You can put the cameras on and sound off while studying and put a timer to allocate study time and breaks. By seeing your friend’sstudy can prompt you to carry on when you feel less motivated, and they are right there when you have questions about a topic. 

6. Practice Past papers

Taking a practice test before the real exam is a great way to knock off some rust and determine what you still need to work on. Replicate exam conditions by putting a timer and notes away when you attempt the past papers and mark yourself strictly. You can find past exam papers on the Maynooth library website under Quicklinks. 

7. Get enough sleep

Staying up late to cram for exams is probably the worst thing you can do as you need energy to study effectively. Sleep builds memory and helps strengthen memories you formed through the day so ensure you get plenty of sleep in the next crucial weeks leading up and during exams, and seven to eight hours the night before an exam to optimise alertness.

8. Treat yourself to keep you motivated

Connecting a reward to a period of effective study not only gives you a mental break but will motivate you to want to effectively study the next time. You can do this by watching your favourite Netflix show or having a relaxing bath after a long study period.

9. Use effective study techniques

There are so many different study techniques that can help you to retain information when you are studying. Flashcards are an easy and effective method as they help you interact with information in a way that makes it easier to retain. There are flashcard apps that can be found on the app store or simple cardboard, and pen can also work. Mind maps can also be very useful for organising information and help with memory and recall. Colour coding notes can also improve a person’s memory performance. 

10. Breathe 

Meditation and breathing exercises can help you feel calm and relaxed. Feeling calm and relaxed helps handle stress. A few minutes of meditation in the morning is very beneficial for anxiety, even if you just take five minutes at the start of your day to focus on your breathing. This can also help sharpen your focus right before the exam, as breathing deeply increases the oxygen flow to your brain.

11. Healthy Habits 

Take care of your body and mind by being active and eating healthy during exams. Snack on healthy food exercise while you study. Eating foods like fish, walnuts and dark chocolate, and drinking green tea, is great for boosting brain function. Try avoiding very surgery foods as they cause an energy slump after the initial boost. A little exercise is better than none. You can go for a short 20-minute walk on one of your breaks to help keep your focus. You’ll get extra oxygen to your brain and come back sharper and more energised.

12. Take breaks

Listen to your body and recharge to keep motivation up.Taking breaks is a great way to improve your memory and concentration. Take regular breaks to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.  Take a break of 5 to 15 minutes at least every 90 minutes, depending on how long you’ve been studying for.


Hopefully some of these tips come in handy for the upcoming exams and assignments. The most important thing is that you try your best to balance your studies and give yourself that break when needed after a tough semester!

Best of luck with the upcoming exams! 😊

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