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Top tips for study and exam success

Posted on 12 May 2024

How to make exam time a more pleasant and productive experience.

Developing good study habits will ensure you perform to the best of your ability. The tips below are backed up by research - some of them may surprise you.

1. Take frequent breaks

Psychologists say we can only concentrate properly for 30-45 minutes. There are lots of apps that can help with productive study:

  • lets you set a timer for scheduling work and break slots
  • blocks websites that you visit to procrastinate
  • helps you set periods of time for concentration - grow a tree by not touching your phone

When you're on your break, do something completely different - move away from your work, make a hot drink.

2. Eat well

Biscuits and chocolate may give you an immediate rush of energy but high blood sugar combined with mentally challenging tasks can increase your cortisol levels and impair your memory. By snacking on slow release high protein foods like yoghurt, cheese, fruit, veg or nuts and seeds you can keep your blood sugar levels more even and aid your memory.

3. Drink lots of water

The human brain is about 85% water and it needs a steady supply to function properly. You will be more focused and able to think faster with more creativity and clarity if you keep hydrated. (Note: drinking lots of water will also help you take more frequent breaks).

4. Consider time and place

Think about when and where you work best. Are you a morning person or do you work better in the evening? Do you concentrate better in the library or somewhere else? Find what works best for you.

5. Keep active

Exercising is one of the quickest and most effective ways to de-stress. Regular exercise can actually help your brain work better. Fresh air will clear your head and perk you up, even a short walk will do.

6. Sleep

Research shows there are strong links between sleep, learning and memory - aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Have trouble sleeping? There are lots of things you can do to help yourself. See our information on sleep for advice on how to get a good night’s rest.

7. Relax

Relaxation is important to help you manage stress and anxiety. If you never relax, your cortisol levels may continue to build and interfere with your learning and memory.

Do whatever relaxes you - try a hot bath, watching a film, dancing, meditation, or doing something creative. Schedule this down-time into your day.

What works for you?


These are our top tips for study success but let us know what works for you using #UoYWellbeing.

Find out more

We have loads of support and advice on our website. See our wellbeing advice A-Z for more information:

Wellbeing Advice A-Z