Together with StudyFree Operations Director and coach Diana Kodoeva we find out how to prepare for admission tests effectively and without stress.
Prepare your work area
Start with the crucial thing - your work area. Perform a full-scale cleaning, put all unnecessary things away from your table, choose the most comfortable, quiet, and well lighted area.
Look for naturally lighted areas: to preserve your eyesight, you should avoid excessive artificial lighting. The distance between your eyes and your laptop screen should be in the range of 40 to 75 cm. If possible, find a comfortable chair (38-55 cm, depending on your height) and table (72-75 cm).
If you plan to work in a public space, ensure that nothing distracts you from your tasks. If you cannot work at home, choose a coworking space, a library reference room, or a park (if the weather is nice, and the park has Wi-Fi).
Define your working hours
Some like to work mornings, some like to work evenings. Studying at night is bad for everyone - you can’t overestimate the importance of good rest and sound sleep.
Find out, which time of day you work most efficiently. If you manage your time, you will be able to build your work schedule to achieve top performance.
Don't leave everything to the last minute
Allocate your workload, so you don’t have to learn everything in a month or, even worse, in a week. Break up the tasks into units, study and solve tasks in small portions, but without missing out a single day. This will help you avoid overloading, and prepare efficiently to the trickiest exams.
Start with the hard things: do not put off complex issues and tasks - you will have to deal with them sooner or later, so you might as well do it right now.
If time management and work planning are not among your strongest skills, take advantage of some task planning instruments. For example, StudyFree team works in Trello, a software that tracks all tasks and shows their status. In Trello, you can not only add study and job tasks and monitor their realization, but also plan your day, including household chores and personal time (walks, sleep, meetings with friends). You can learn all about working with a task tracker in a separate article.
As an option, set up a check-list in #365done, to follow a clear plan on the way to your goal. This free online construction kit allows you to make a checklist to monitor progress in several areas of your life at once.
Employ the Pomodoro technique
In the late 1980s an Italian student Francesco Cirillo invented a time management method and called it a “Pomodoro technique”.
It is based on the following principles:
- Define your tasks, set your priorities.
- Set a timer for 20-25 minutes.
- Work without breaks until the timer rings.
- Take a 5 minute break.
- After each fourth “pomodoro” take a long (45-90 minutes) break.
According to the technique, these intervals (“pomodoros”) shall be 30 minutes each: 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest. If you get distracted, don’t pause the timer: do what you need, then set the timer again, and return to your work.
Do not turn off the timer if you managed to finish the task ahead of time. Proceed to the next question or issue, until the “pomodoro” time runs out.
During the breaks you may have a snack, do exercises, or go for a walk.
Search answers to your questions
Even if you are positive that you know everything. Better be safe than sorry: look through the previous years’ test tasks, talk to those who prepared for the exam and passed it. Find yourself a tutor: it may be a forend, a colleague, a teacher or a coach.
Diana Kodoeva, StudyFree Operations Director, coach
The main question to ask yourself is “What do I do this for?”. You have to understand that admission to a university is not a goal, but a path to something that lies further on. If you picture your ultimate goal for yourself (sometimes it helps to describe it in detail on a sheet of paper), the process of preparation becomes more inspirational and smooth.
Overcoming the hardships that you would inevitably meet is a hard, tedious, everyday work. You have to be a superhuman being to make yourself go through it time after time.
It becomes easier, when you understand why you are doing this. And again easier, when you ask yourself: “How will it influence my life?” or even: “How would I be able to contribute to this world?”. The whole array of opportunities lies before you. This is the inspiration that allows us to overcome a rough patch of our life effortlessly and with a positive approach, despite all the hardships.
Author: Elena Burkovskaya