Think your way to better grades 

By  Lysette Offley

Think your way to better grades - photo of "The Thinker" scuptureThinking positively and believing in yourself will help to counteract the fear you might feel when confronted with that oh so thick course manual, the contents of which you have to learn in order to give you the best chance to get better grades in your exams.

You know what it’s like, when the negative thoughts creep in – one negative thought leads to another negative thought, and before you know where you are you’ve talked yourself out of revising. After all, what’s the point? You’re not going to pass the exams anyway, are you?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. One of the most important study skills that is rarely mentioned, is the ability to manage your mind. And to do that, sometimes you have to give yourself some tough love, and determine not to fall into the usual trap, but instead, do what works.

Of course you have to have a good revision strategy. It’s important to attend to the 3 keys of learning. It’s crucial that when you do knuckle down, the time that you’re spending is time that you’re learning – efficiently and effectively.

But apart from that, you simply must get started. You’ve got to get your head down and spend the time necessary. How many of you have found that when you know you have revision to do, it suddenly occurs to you that you had better clean up the kitchen, wash the car, mow the lawn, tidy the lounge…?

Isn’t it funny that we can all relate to these distraction activities? It is of course, merely procrastination and avoidance of the task ahead.

So, given what we know about the human brain learning best in short bursts of energy, if you’re finding it difficult to settle down, give yourself the simple task of learning just one small chunk of information only. Just one chunk of information. And then take a break. You can do anything in that break. All it needs to be is something different from revision. You might even spend just 5 minutes beginning the process of tidying the lounge(!)

Then go back to your revision and learn just one more short chunk. Just spend 15 to 20 minutes learning one very short chunk. And when you’re done, go back to the lounge and spend another 5 minutes tidying up. Make sure it is only 5 minutes.

You could continue in this vein all day. And if that was your goal, every hour or 2 you need to build in a longer break. Go for a very short walk, have a stretch, make a cup of tea, have a light lunch. And before you know it, you will have, under your belt, several chunks of information, just by tackling them one little step at a time. What’s more you will have got some of those irritating jobs done at home and you are likely to feel very good about the whole thing – not to mention proud of yourself.

This is a common strategy among successful students who regularly get better grades than their classmates. Take a leaf out of their book and try it for yourself.

Your automatic, unconscious mind automatically pays attention to what it believes to be interesting and important. That’s why it’s easy for you to get involved with other things that are interesting and fun. Unfortunately revision doesn’t normally fall into this category, which is why it feels like a struggle. However you can teach your unconscious mind to regard it as important, interesting and fun and by doing so you will be training it to actively ‘suck’ up the information, which of course will make the process much easier for you.

To do this you need to spend a little time focusing on what’s really important to you about passing exams. Write down all the reasons you can think of that what you’re learning is interesting; why passing exams with better grades than ever before is important to you; what you will be able to do once you’ve got those exams and how it will positively affect your life and the life of the people you love.

Don’t sell yourself short here. Keep writing and writing, until you’ve written 100 positive things about your subject and about passing the exams. You might think this is a little extreme, but it will compensate for all the negativity you might have been feeling until now, instead, forcing your brain to think of the opposite thoughts, and consequently leaving your brain in a much more positive place.

Remind yourself of times in the past where you’ve worked very hard at something and finally the effort has paid off big time. Times where you’ve chosen to persevere and forge ahead rather than give up. And notice the connection between those times and your current situation revising for exams.

Mark your progress by keeping tabs on the chunks of information you’ve already learnt. It’ll make you feel good when you see the progress you’re making, step-by-step. It will also keep your work organised, making sure you cover everything.

You probably know the expression, you get what you focus on. Never is it more true than now. Focus on all the positives, deliberately, as a matter of discipline, whether you feel like it or not, and soon you’ll find that you feel in control and able to get better grades, by thinking positively and by taking positive action.

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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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