Understanding your brain to study effectively for tests & exams

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 In this article you will learn about : 

1) How your brain is designed to learn 

2) Things you can do to learn better 

3) Different learning styles (Left and Right brain dominance) 

4) How to study for a test and/or exam that is fast approaching. 

With trail exams over and final matric exams under way, most of you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. In this article we will  discuss ways in which you can A. Understand how your brain works B. study tips C. websites (links  provided below) where to get practice test papers.  

Note, the contents of this article does not only apply to Matric students but also to lower grades and  even Varsity students ! 

How does an individual gain an understanding of something? 

To learn something different or new, you have to repeat it. For example, the subject Life science, you  can't depend on briefly going over it once. Subjects like Life sciences, Physical sciences and  Mathematics, need you to practice and learn by repetition so you can understand what you are learning. You need to understand the "Why and how" of it so that you are more likely to get it correct when you are tested on it.  

Here's a list of 5 key things you can do to help you learn better : 

1) study in a quiet place with zero distractions  

-this means have your stationary and study material organized, so you do not need to constantly get up  to fetch anything.  

2) make notes and summarises  

-Believe or not, notes prove to be an effective way to get more information in your mind in less time.  They can also serve as revision notes of which you can use to revise with. 

3) Do past papers and tests. 

- This does not only aid in testing an individual on what they already know but it also prepares you for  what is to come. If you are lucky, you may sometimes find that some question/questions in that past 

paper has been tested again in the paper you are going to write. 

4) Know which learning style works best for you 

- This helps you to understand how you learn and how much information you can ‘take in' hourly and/or  daily.  

5) This is the most important one. Get efficient sleep and eat healthily.  

-These two things go hand in hand, besides the fact that you can get major health benefits, Efficient  sleep and a healthy diet lead to a clearer and relaxed mind. Which is great for when preparing for an  exam.  

Different learning styles for different individuals 

Each person has their own way of learning. The first step to understanding which learning style would  best suit you, would be to find out which side of your brain is more dominant between your left and  right side. 

It is impossible for a person to have only one dominant side completely. So you are likely to have One  dominant over the other.  

If you haven't figured out which side of your brain is more dominant, do not worry. Below are the Main aspects each side of your brain are responsible for : 

Left side of the brain dominance  

• Like's order and being organized  

• Like's sciences and mathematics 

• Finds it easy to remember information  

• Excels in analysing situations till a solution is found 

• Good at reasoning 

• Logical thinker 

Right side of the brain dominance  

• Can be disorganized  

• Prefers arts and culture  

• Can at times fail to remember information  

• Has good story telling and creative writing skills  

• Prefers drawing and/or music 

How will understanding which part of your brain is more  dominant help you? 

Understanding your brain will assist you in figuring out which study style would best suit you. This could  lead to greater work performance.

Below are effective tips on study styles for each dominant side to help you study and understand work  better.  

• Right side of the brain 

- make summaries  

- use visuals e.g. pictures and mind maps 

- Practice time management  

- Be creative and let your imagination take control when it comes to art and language subjects. - make notes on given instructions so you can remember them easily and so you can refer to them  should you need to be reminded. 

• Left side of the Brain 

- Keep all your notes and study material organized  

- be less critical  

- develop your strengths 

- when it comes to tests and exams start with questions that require facts and end with the ones that  require use of imagination and creativity. 

How to study for a test or exam that is fast approaching :  

1) Go over each examinable chapter briefly (Skim through it at first). 

2) Turn each heading into a question of which you will summarise all the main points under it ( that  would be your answer to the "question" ). Key cards are also effective.  

3) Use mind maps to fit all important information and try to summarise perhaps half a chapter in just one  page. 

4) go over your summaries in a peaceful environment with zero interruptions.  

5) Make extra notes for all the information you struggle remembering. 

6) Take sufficient breaks in-between your study sessions, you cannot learn for hours on end. This will  tire your out. Take short breaks, for example, for every 1 hour you study take a 10 to 15 minute break  in-between.  

7) If you prefer to learn whilst listening to music, it is advised that you listen to calm music with no lyrics  and catchy beats as it might distract you. 

8) Get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep, this helps relax your mind and body. In the long run, sleeping for  only 6 hours per day isn't ideal and it is not recommended , it is advised you try get 8 hours of  uninterrupted sleep.  

9) Do some revision test and exercises. Don't waste too much time on these and prioritize the important 

questions and sections. 

10) Calm down! , a test mark does not determine the rest of your life. Do not over stress yourself.  

A common method of learning a lot of information quickly would be to also watch videos online  explaining the sections you need help with. All in all, Good luck to all students who are about to write  any tests or examinations

Website links to past exam and test papers for grade 12 students : 


https://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/NationalSeniorCertificate(NSC)Examinations/NSCPastExa minationpapers.aspx 




https://olivershouse.co.za/community-projects/educational-learning-centre/grade-12-past-exam papers/

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