Firstly, why are you studying? It is important to know why you want to study. Secondly, what is your motivation? In difficult times, (and I do not need to be a prophet to know that such times will surely come), will your motive for studying carry you through?
Something that you must keep in mind is that you are still responsible for your relationship with God, your spouse and your children. Do not neglect your relationship with God. Naturally you should approach your studies in such a way that it will benefit (advance) your relationship with God and because you wish to honor God through it. All the while your spouse and your children must also not be neglected. Make an effort to spend time with them, harmonise your study program with their needs as well.
It is important that you have a place where you can study in silence. Sometimes it can be difficult to find such a place in your home, especially if you do not have a dedicated study area. It is essential that you are not disturbed during your available study time and therefore you need to ensure that all your books, notes, stationery, etcetera, is in one place where you will be able to focus.
Resources and Study Methods
There are several resources that you can use when you study, for example, Study Bibles, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, commentaries, and concordances. Use separate notebooks for each of your subjects. Some people find a card system useful as you can make a very compact summary of the study material on a card.
“Mind maps” are a very productive resource when studying. The middle stem of your mind map contains the subject of the specific piece of work or chapter. The main branches are then the main ideas of it and the sub branches contain the sub ideas of the main ideas. These sub ideas can once again contain further sub-sub ideas. Mind maps are an effective study tool and enables you to visualise a whole chapter on one page.
The most important key to successful studying is self-discipline. If you do not work at your studies in a disciplined manner, you are going to falter. Regular focus time for your studies is vital. Plan your program in such a way that you give enough time to all your subjects, and as far is possible stick to a program.
To be able to do this it is important that you manage your time well. Time is precious and cannot be wasted. Set yourself realistic goals so that you can reach it in the available time. Be prepared for interruptions. You are going to have to learn to work in a friendly, but effective way with people that are surely going to interupt your study time. Learn to say no.
An important part of self discipline is that you also take care of yourself. This includes your physical health. If you are fit and healthy, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. It contributes to a mind that is much sharper when it comes to studying. Study when you are mentally alert. For some people this is early in the morning, for others it is later in the day. It is also important that you give yourself regular study breaks of about ten minutes.
Preparing for Exams
It is vitally important that you work right through the year. If, however, you leave all your exam preparation for, example, October, it will be to late. Endeavour to go through your work on a weekly basis throughout the year and make summaries, if possible. This is going to ask a commitment from you, but you will certainly reap the benefits at exam time.
When you are seated in the examination hall there are a few important things to remember. First read through the entire exam paper and make sure that you understand what is expected of you. Briefly work out how much time you have available to answer every question. If for instance, you have two hours in which you need to answer four questions worth twenty five points each, it means that you cannot spend more than half an hour on each question.
Remember that you can answer the questions in any sequence. Therefore if there are certain areas of the paper which you have not quite mastered as well as the others, first answer the questions you know best and then go over to the once that you are less confident with. Also ensure that you answer what the lecturer is asking. If you provide information which is not relevant, you will not receive marks for it. Try and write as neatly as possible. Remember, the lecturer has probably got a whole lot of papers to mark and illegible handwriting is the last thing he / she wants to encounter.
Lastly, but most important: DO NOT SPOT, IT IS JUST NOT WORTH THE RISK!