Tips to Pass my Exams
Worried about passing your final exams? We have got you covered with these tips and tricks. Use them as a guideline to help you ace those exams with ease!
Make a List of Topics you Need to Cover – Life Sciences consists of a wide range of topics. Make a list and tick each topic off as you go along so you don’t miss anything.
Assign Certain Topics to Focus on Each day – Dedicate specific days to work on certain topics. Deal with the more difficult topics first, before you revise the easier ones.
Use Flashcards for Definitions – Flashcards are ideal for life sciences terms and concepts. Writing out definitions can also help you remember information better.
Practice on Past Question Papers – Go through old question papers and familiarise yourself with the test format. It will help prepare you so you know what to expect.
Use Sketches and Labels – Many concepts in Life Sciences are easier to remember if you draw a picture. Make your own sketches and use labels to identify key parts.
Make a List of Topics you Need to Cover
How to Cover a Topic You Know Nothing About
As an affiliate marketer, you might often encounter the need to write content about topics that fall outside your area of expertise. However, many copywriters face this challenge on a regular basis and successfully address it. All you need is a simple algorithm to follow and, in this post, we’ll share the best techniques to get a sense of the subject and give your content a better edge.
How to Cover a Topic You Know Nothing About
How do you write about something you don’t know about? It’s actually pretty easy if you follow a simple algorithm: do proper research, accumulate relevant data, ask for an expert opinion, and make a post. Thus, you’ll always have something to write about. Now, let’s see how to do it step-by-step.
Understand Your Audience
First things first, the aim of writing a blog post is to provide your audience with valuable information and motivate them to come back to your website again and again. This is pretty easy if you already have an established audience, otherwise, this step might take a while.
Spend some time researching statistics as well as the feedback your audience leaves. Try to understand what they struggle with and how you can help them. This knowledge will determine the language type and research depth of your article:
- Who is your audience?
- Do they have a basic knowledge of the topic?
- Will they appreciate professional terminology or find it confusing?
Let’s say you are writing a blog post on how to go on vacation to the Maldives, but don’t know how to cover the “how to get there” thing. A little research will show that almost half of the travelers come to the islands from Europe, so tips on how to get there from, say, London or Berlin can be really useful.
You need to understand what kind of information people look for and then collect all the relevant data. Below are some strategies to help you collect juicy data for your blog post.
Google the Topic
The first step is simply to Google the topic. Start by exploring the materials that already exist, but try to only rely on knowledgeable sources. How do you find these? Pay close attention to:
- Sites with expertise, focusing on only one niche and backing up facts with evidence
- Non-commercial platforms providing unbiased information
- Resources with many followers
- The most recent publications
- Professionally designed websites (this isn’t always the rule, but a more professional site might indicate that the resource owner is serious about their project)
- Articles with credentials
- Platforms with many backlinks
Read Social Media and Forums
The next step is to get a sense of public opinion about the topic. This is important, as real users can provide you with context and lend insights into how it all works in practice.
The first place to research might be Quora. Not only does it help to find out what people are asking, but Quora also shows related queries.
Facebook can be especially useful with its “Related Articles” feature, which shows relevant materials that you might not have otherwise come across.
Also, check the relevant forums and discussion boards. In the travel niche, you can start by exploring the most well known forums, such as Trip Advisor, Travellerspoint, Thorn Tree by Lonely Planet, etc.
Check the News
Check if there is any news that could influence your subject. This is especially important for travel bloggers. For instance, if you write about vacations to a sea resort, make sure to check the local news. If there was, say, a hurricane, your blog post will be irrelevant no matter how well you describe the advantages of the resort.
Study Basic Concepts
To be able write logically and truthfully, it is important to acquire a solid understanding of the basic principles, terminology, and facts, as well as the logic behind how these things are correlated.
When researching your subject, check the meaning of every seemingly significant term that you don’t understand. To do so, either Google the term (you can write “define:[your word]”) or use a thesaurus or dictionary. If you still feel confused, consult with an expert.
Explore Foreign Sources
Even though most significant research results, findings, and news stories are usually translated into English, it never hurts to explore some authoritative foreign sources.
It is even more important if you are writing in any language other than English. This will provide you with more insights, a better perspective, stronger evidence, and, almost certainly, an advantage over your competitors.
Videos are another great source of information. YouTube is the second-largest online platform worldwide. So, what kind of information can you find there? Webinars, conference recordings, animated videos, etc. You might also incorporate videos into your writing to inspire users or help them understand a complex subject.
Test the Product Yourself
Last but not least, try to use the product/services yourself, should such an opportunity arise. Thus, you’ll be able to share personal experience, which is naturally more credible for readers. Be sure to recommend a nice product.
If writing about traveling, it might be too expensive to put up the cash and purchase a service just to write a blog post. But you can, for example, try to book a hotel or flight tickets, discuss vacation options with an agency, or go through another step-by-step travel process just like your readers would.
Use Mind Maps
Once you’ve gathered enough information, it’s important to structure your findings. To do so, consider mind mapping: place your topic in the center of a blank page and write other related concepts/problems/ideas around that central item. You can show the relationship between notions by using different colors or distance from the center of the page.
Mind maps work just like the human brain and help generate more ideas, improve your productivity, and find connections between facts (even hidden ones). You’ll have all the necessary information in a single glance and be able to more effectively structure your writing.
Consult With Experts and Get Quotes
Expert opinion will not only help you clarify certain notions, it will also give more weight to your writing. Most likely, your credibility can’t come from personal experience on a topic you are unfamiliar with. Thus, sharing quotes from experts will come in handy.
Experts come in many forms. They can be a business representative, a source at a university, a blogger in the same niche, a client, etc. For example, a client can introduce you to additional context and share their pain points. Some experts will help deepen your knowledge. Finally, an average reader can look at your content with fresh eyes and help you identify places in your piece that might be obscure and need more attention or details.
How do you reach out to experts? Prepare your questions in advance and, after the interview, ask permission to use their quotes in your post. Also, you can ask whether your contact would be willing to respond to any follow-up questions or perform a fact-check once your post is ready (in an ideal scenario).
Proceed to this step only after doing proper research on your own. Thus, you won’t ask basic things that can easily be clarified on the Internet. Second, you’ll be able to come up with questions that are truly important and require expertise.
Once you’ve gathered enough information, it’s time to put it down on paper. Starting is always the scariest part, so try to make a draft of your article first. Ideally, do this in one sitting to avoid wasting time on the “entry” process. Then, take a break and come back later with a fresh pair of eyes.
The next step is to double check the facts in your article and improve your writing where possible. Look for phrasings that might need some additional clarification or detail, as well as sentences that can be shortened without losing important information. Ensure that your writing is coherent and all parts are logically connected.
Perform Fact Checks
This is important at every stage of your work, but especially in the end, when the writing is complete. Make sure that every fact in your article is accurate and can be backed up with evidence. At this stage, if possible, you can also submit the piece to an expert for a fact check.
Proofreading your article helps ensure that there is no bad grammar, punctuation, misspellings, etc. It might be better to submit your writing to a professional proofreader, who can guarantee your article is mistake-free. Don’t ignore this step, especially if you write in a non-native language.
It’d be great to get outside feedback before posting your article. This feedback might come from a colleague, friend, or partner, but should, ideally, be from someone with relevant expertise. A fresh pair of eyes can help you find places that are still difficult to understand and need additional clarification. Alternatively, your perspective might not show the entire picture, so feedback will help you fill in any missing parts.
How to Write About Something You Don’t Know
Writing about topics that fall outside your area of expertise might be more common than you think. To make a great post, you’ll need to do proper research, consult with both experts and customers, and fact-check all the information that you gather. Doing this preparation will help you understand your topic in more detail. You’ll need to put all the data you found on paper and ensure it is tailored to your target audience’s interests.
Assign Certain Topics to Focus on Each day
Why can’t I focus?
This is a common question for many. If you find yourself trying to multitask too often or struggling to complete even the smallest of tasks, you’ve likely asked yourself this question. And often, the answer can be found in your daily activities and some areas you can control. These can include:
- Your bedtime routine and sleep hygiene
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not eating nutritious meals or sufficient calories throughout the day
- Having your phone and other electronics within your view
- Dependents or coworkers needing your attention
- Your day is structured out of sync with your ultradian rhythm
- You are overly stressed or burnt out
- You do not get enough physical activity throughout the day
These are just a few examples of reasons you may not be able to concentrate. And they largely fall under five primary categories or factors.
5 common factors of poor focus and concentration
These are five common habits and factors that can impact your ability to focus:
- Insufficient sleep
- Insufficient physical activity
- Poor eating habits
- Environmental factors
We are bombarded by a constant flow of information, whether new or old, during the process of doing something. Researchers have found that our brains are so primed for this distraction that just seeing our smartphone impairs our ability to concentrate. We constantly assess whether the information is useful, sufficient, or meaningless. The sheer quantity coming in muddles our assessment of whether we actually need more information to make decisions.
Scientists have found that lack of sleep can lead to lower alertness, slower thought processes, and reduced concentration. You will have more difficulty focusing your attention and may become confused. As a result, your ability to perform tasks especially relating to reasoning or logic can be seriously affected. Chronically poor sleep further affects your concentration and memory. Dr. Allison T. Siebern from the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Centre notes that if you cannot concentrate on what is at hand, it is unlikely to make it to either your short- or long-term memory.
3. Insufficient physical activity
Have you ever noticed how vigorous exercise leaves you feeling more relaxed and energetic throughout the day? When you don’t do physical activity, your muscles can become tense. You may feel tightness in your neck, shoulder, and chest and such persistent, low-level discomfort can affect your concentration.
4. Poor eating habits
What we eat contributes to how we feel, including our mental sharpness and clarity, throughout the day. If we don’t fuel our brains with the proper nutrients, we start to experience symptoms like memory loss, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Low-fat diets can ruin focus because the brain needs certain essential fatty acids. Other restrictive diets may negatively affect concentration by not providing the nutrients the brain needs or by creating hunger, cravings, or feeling of unwellness in the body that are themselves distracting.
5. Environmental factors
Depending on what you are doing, the environment can affect your focus. Obviously, a noise level that is too loud is a problem, but many people also have difficulty concentrating when it is too quiet. It isn’t just the overall noise level but the type of noise that matters: the high-energy, anonymous hum of a coffee shop might bring focus while the overheard conversation of two co-workers derails it. A favorite song quickly has you singing along, happily distracted, while less distinct instrumentals might keep you attuned to the task. Lighting that is too bright or too dim can affect your vision. A room that is too hot or too cold creates discomfort.
All of these elements can affect your concentration. Happily, they are also all addressable.
Conditions related to concentration
If you frequently can’t focus your thoughts and are experiencing ongoing concentration difficulties, it may indicate a cognitive, medical, psychological, lifestyle, or environmental cause. Depending on the cause, you may have to temporarily accept that your concentration is low and learn a few tricks to reduce the impact or accept the dips as they come. If you need help with concentration and think your difficulties go beyond the list above, consult with a professional.
Possible broader conditions include:
- Cognitive. Your concentration may decrease if you find yourself forgetting things easily. Your memory sometimes fails you, you misplace articles, and have difficulty remembering things that occurred a short time ago. Another way your concentration may be cognitively impaired is if you find that your mind is overactive, constantly thinking of multiple things due to concerns or important events. When thoughts and issues intrude into your mind, demanding attention, it prevents effective concentration.
- Psychological. When you are depressed and feeling down, it is difficult to focus. Similarly, when you are recovering from the loss of a loved one during bereavement or are experiencing anxiety, you may have difficulty focusing on a single task.
- Medical. Medical conditions like diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and low red blood cell count can affect our concentration. Some medication also makes you drowsy or bleary and severely impair concentration.
- Environmental. Poor working conditions, shared spaces, and intense or negative work dynamics may also contribute to a lack of concentration. When we are experiencing burnout or stress from work or personal life, we will find it difficult to concentrate due to emotional exhaustion. Similarly, the environment can create discomfort to our body with effects that we’re aware of (heat, light, noise) and others that don’t fully register (tension, negativity, monitoring).
- Lifestyle. Fatigue, hunger, and dehydration can derail concentration. Lifestyles that involve too many missed meals, rich foods, or excessive alcohol consumption can challenge our memory and ability to concentrate and focus.
15 Ways to improve your concentration
Now you know why you need help with concentration. What can help you to focus better? There’s no one answer for how to improve focus, but the following tips can help.
- Eliminate distractions. How do we focus better if we are always bombarded with information? Make a practice blocking time in your schedule to do a specific task or activity. During this time, request that you be left alone or go to a place where others are unlikely to disturb you: a library, a coffee shop, a private room.Close social media and other apps, silence notifications, and keep your phone hidden from sight in a bag or backpack. As described in HBR, researchers found that cognitive capacity was significantly better when the phone was out of sight, not just turned off. Keep Your primary focus is to complete what you need to do. Shutting off both internal and external disturbances can help you to concentrate.
- Reduce multitasking. Attempting to perform multiple activities at the same time makes us feel productive. It’s also a recipe for lower focus, poor concentration, and lower productivity. And lower productivity can lead to burnout. Examples of multitasking include listening to a podcast while responding to an email or talking to someone over the phone while writing your report. Such multitasking not only hampers your ability to focus but compromises your work quality.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation. Meditating or practicing mindfulness activities can strengthen well-being and mental fitness and improve focus. During the meditation process, our brain becomes calmer and our whole body becomes more relaxed. We focus on our breath during the process so that we will not be distracted by our minds. With practice, we can learn to use our breath to bring our attention back to a particular task so that it can be done well even if we get interrupted.
- Get more sleep. Many factors affect your sleep. One of the most common is reading from an electronic device like a computer, phone, or tablet or watching your favorite movie or TV show on an LED TV just before bedtime. Research has shown that such devices emit light towards the blue end of the spectrum. Such light will stimulate your eye retina and prevent the secretion of melatonin that promotes sleep anticipation in the brain. Use a filter or “blue light” glasses to minimize such blue light or avoid all electronic devices before bed. Other ways to improve sleep include avoiding exercise late in the day, staying hydrated throughout the day, using journaling or breathing exercises to quiet the mind, and creating a predictable bedtime routine and schedule.
- Choose to focus on the moment. It might feel counterintuitive when you feel unable to concentrate, but remember that you choose where you focus. It’s tough to concentrate when your mind is always in the past and worrying about the future. While it isn’t easy, make an effort to let go of past events. Acknowledge the impact, what you felt, and what you learned from it, then let it go. Similarly, acknowledge your concerns about the future, consider how you are experiencing that anxiety in your body, then choose to let it go. We want to train our mental resources to focus on the details of what matters at the moment. Our minds go in the direction we choose to focus.
- Take a short break. This also might seem counterintuitive, but when you focus on something for a long time, your focus may begin to die down. You may feel more and more difficulty devoting your attention to the task.Researchers have found that our brains tend to ignore sources of constant stimulation. Taking very small breaks by refocusing your attention elsewhere can dramatically improve mental concentration after that. The next time you are working on a project, take a break when you begin to feel stuck. Move around, talk to someone, or even switch to a different type of task. You will come back with a more focused mind to keep your performance high.
- Connect with nature. Research has found that even having plants in office spaces can help increase concentration and productivity, as well as workplace satisfaction and better air quality. Finding time to take a walk in the park or appreciating the plants or flowers in your garden can boost your concentration and help you feel refreshed.
- Train your brain. Scientific research is starting to amass evidence on the ability of brain training activities to enhance cognitive abilities, including concentration, in adults. Such brain training games for concentration can also help you develop your working and short-term memory, as well as your processing and problem-solving skills. Examples of such games include jigsaw puzzles, sudoku, chess, and brain-stimulating video games.
- Exercise. Start your day with simple exercise and get your body moving. According to the May 2013 issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, regular exercise releases chemicals key for memory, concentration, and mental sharpness. Other research found that exercise can boost the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels and all these will affect focus and attention. Individuals who do some form of exercise or sports perform better on cognitive tasks when compared with those who have poor physical health. Physical movement helps relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.
- Listen to music. Music has been shown to have therapeutic effects on our brains. Light music may help you to concentrate better, but some music may distract you. Experts generally agree that classical music and nature sounds, such as water flowing, are good choices for concentration while music with lyrics and human voices may be distracting. Multiple apps and services offer background music and soundscapes designed for different types of focus and work needs.
- Eat well. Choose foods that moderate blood sugar, maintain energy, and fuel the brain. Fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods can keep your blood sugar levels even. Reduce sugary foods and drinks that cause spikes and dips in your sugar levels make you feel dizzy or drowsy.Your brain needs lots of good fat to function properly. Nuts, berries, avocados, and coconut oil are all great ways to get healthy fats into your diet and help your brain run more smoothly. Research has found that foods like blueberries can boost concentration and memory for up to 5 hours after consumption due to an enzyme that stimulates the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain, helping with memory as well as our ability to focus and learn new information. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach contain potassium which accelerates the connections between neurons and can make our brain more responsive.
- Set a daily priority. Write down what you want to accomplish each day, ideally the night before, and identify a single priority that you commit to accomplishing. This will help focus your brain on what matters, tackling the big jobs first and leaving the small stuff till later. Break large tasks into smaller bytes so that you will not be overwhelmed. Identifying true priorities can help relieve distracting anxiety, and achieving small daily goals can wire your brain to achieve success.
- Create space for work. Create a calm dedicated space for work, if possible. Not everyone can have a well-appointed office, but desk organizers, noise-canceling headphones, an adjustable monitor, and adjustable lighting can help. Clear clutter out of sight, make it as ergonomic and comfortable as possible, and try to keep your space neat and ventilated.
- Use a timer. Train your brain to hyper-focus on a task by using a timer or phone alarm. First, decide what task you want to complete. Set your timer for 20 minutes (generally not more than 30 minutes) and concentrate on the task. When the alarm rings take a short break for 5 minutes. You can either take a walk and do some stretching exercise, then reset the timer and start again. This technique has shown to be effective to improve your concentration.
- Switch tasks. While we may want to concentrate on a particular task, sometimes we get stuck and our brain needs something fresh to focus on. Try switching to other tasks or something you love to do. Switching tasks can help you stay alert and productive for a longer period.
Improving focus and concentration takes time
Learning how to improve focus and concentration is not something you can achieve overnight. Professional athletes like golfers, sprinters, gymnasts take plenty of time to practice (and usually have a coach) so that they can concentrate and get the right move at the right moment to achieve excellence.
The first step to strengthen your concentration is to recognize how it is affecting your life. If you are struggling to meet commitments, constantly sidetracked by the unimportant, or not moving toward your aspirations, it is time to get help with concentration so that you can focus on what matters most to you.
Learning how to concentrate at work is essential for succeeding in your career and life. By improving your concentration, you will find that you can accomplish more of what you value and feel better doing it. It’s not just about accomplishing tasks but about making time for joy and happiness so that you can achieve a meaningful and satisfying life.
Use Flashcards for Definitions
Why you should use flashcards to study
Flashcards are an amazing study tool for the following reasons:
- Flashcards are a two-step process: First you must make them, and then you study from them. This two-step process increases the amount of information you retain.
- You can study the flashcards from both sides. Doing so improves your understanding of the material.
- Making and using flashcards is a good study method for all learning styles: visual, kinesthetic and auditory (if you have someone test you aloud).
4 ways to use flashcards to study
This is probably the most common use of flashcards. Obviously, you would put your vocabulary word on one side and the definition on the other. Tip: make sure you put the definition in your own words so you learn it quicker. You could also add a cue to the card, such as a mnemonic device or a picture. Here’s another study strategy for vocabulary words.
2. Questions and Answers
Another way to use flashcards to study is to put a question on one side and the answer on the other. This strategy works well for history and science classes, although you could really make it work for all types of content. Where do you get the questions? From your study guide, textbook, teacher, notes, worksheets, class handouts, etc. For example, if your test is on WWII, you could put “What were 3 causes of WWII?” on one side and then list out the answer on the other side. Or you could write “What were two primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird?” on one side, and the answer on the other side.
Using flashcards to study sequential events is a great idea. This would be helpful in history classes if you’re studying a series of events during a certain time period, or even if you’re studying the plot of a book. Here’s how you would use flashcards to study time-based events:
- For events that have dates: put the date on one side of the card and the event on the other.
- For events that don’t have dates, such as plot points in a story: write the numbers 1- whatever (however many events you’re studying) on one side, and write the events on the other side.
- Once you’ve made your cards, scramble them and then try to arrange them in order on a flat surface.
4. Grouping Concepts
This use for flashcards is a little less known than, say, method 1 (vocabulary), but it’s terrific for making connections between concepts. Remember, the primary way we learn new information is by connecting it to something we already know – which is the reason this strategy is so effective. Here’s how you can use flashcards to study by grouping concepts together:
- If you’re studying vocabulary, see if you can group similar words together. You could make separate piles for positive, negative and neutral words, or you could simply group together words with similar definitions.
- If you’re studying science concepts, like the parts of a cell, then put each part on a flashcard and form groups based on common characteristics of each part.
- If you’re studying a novel, write the name of each character on a flashcard, write their characteristics on the backside, and then group characters together that have something in common.
The possibilities are endless. You can make many types of piles from the same stack of flashcards if you get creative about finding connections. Sure, using flashcards to study like this demands that you think hard – but that’s not something to run from.
Additional tips for studying with flashcards
- Study in both directions: Here’s how
- Make your own – don’t use a pre-made set or one made by your friends
- Don’t mistake recognition for recall (just because you can recognize and answer doesn’t mean you can recall it. Remember: the ability to recall information is the sign you’ve learned it.)
- Use the 3-pile method
- Read the flashcards aloud and/or have someone test you. This engages more parts of the brain, which can help the learning process.