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ADHD-Friendly Study Tips for Exam Season

Exam season—a time of stress, late nights, and caffeine-fuelled study sessions. For many students, this period can be particularly challenging. But for those with ADHD, it's a whole different ball game. The traditional methods of studying may not always be effective, and finding what works best can be daunting. However, there is hope! With the right strategies and study aids, navigating exam season with ADHD cannot only be manageable but also lead to success.
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ADHD-Friendly Study Tips for Exam Season

29/05/2024
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Exam season—a time of stress, late nights, and caffeine-fuelled study sessions. For many students, this period can be particularly challenging. But for those with ADHD, it’s a whole different ball game. The traditional methods of studying may not always be effective, and finding what works best can be daunting. However, there is hope! With the right strategies and study aids, navigating exam season with ADHD cannot only be manageable but also lead to success.

ADHD AND LEARNING STYLES

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Before looking at study aids and revision tips, it’s crucial to understand how ADHD can impact learning styles. ADHD affects attention, impulse control, and executive function. This means that those with ADHD may struggle with traditional study methods that rely heavily on sustained attention and organisation.

Students with ADHD encounter various hurdles when revising for exams, including effectively managing time, organising study materials, and combating procrastination. Impulsivity and forgetfulness can exacerbate these challenges, while hyperactivity may manifest as restlessness during study sessions.

Reading comprehension issues and test anxiety also contribute to the struggle, impacting both academic performance and emotional well-being. Students with ADHD must develop coping strategies, seek support, and implement tailored study techniques to overcome these obstacles and succeed in their exams.

ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Each person may have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. Some may thrive in hands-on, interactive environments, while others prefer visual aids or auditory cues. The key is understanding these differences and tailoring the study approach accordingly, which can significantly affect their academic journey.

PRACTICAL REVISION TIPS FOR ADHD

Create a Structured Environment

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Establish a dedicated study space free from distractions. Keep it organised and clutter-free to minimise sensory overload. Use tools like noise-cancelling headphones or white noise machines to maintain focus.

Students can designate a specific area in their homes for studying, ensuring it is free from distractions and clutter. They should organise study materials neatly and use labelled folders and storage for easy access.

Break Tasks Down

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Break revision sessions into smaller, more manageable tasks instead of tackling large study sessions in one go. Set realistic goals and use timers or apps to schedule regular breaks. This can help prevent burnout and maintain productivity.

Some examples of apps to help with studies include;

Time Timer

Time Timer is a visual timer app that represents the passage of time with a disappearing-coloured disk. Users can set the duration of their study session, and the disk gradually shrinks as time elapses, providing a clear visual cue of how much time is remaining. This can help students with ADHD better manage their time and stay on track during study sessions.

Forest App

Forest is a productivity app encouraging users to stay focused by planting virtual trees. Users set a timer for a study session, and if they stay focused until the timer ends, a tree grows in their virtual forest. However, the tree dies if they exit the app to check social media or other distractions. It’s a fun way to stay motivated and avoid distractions while studying.

Visual Aids

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Visual learning can be particularly effective for those with ADHD. Use colour-coded notes, mind maps, or diagrams to organise information and make it easier to recall. Highlight key points and use visual cues to draw connections between concepts.

You could review lecture notes and textbooks using different colours to highlight key points, definitions, and examples. For instance, use blue for definitions, green for examples, and yellow for important dates or formulas. This visual differentiation helps identify and recall crucial information during study sessions.

Engage in Active Learning

Passive studying, such as reading, may not be as effective for those with ADHD. Instead, opt for active learning strategies that involve participation and interaction. This could include teaching subjects to a study partner, quizzing yourself, or using flashcards.

Working with a study buddy can help encourage active learning and review of course materials. Instead of passively reading textbooks, take turns teaching each other from your respective areas of expertise. It can help to actively process and explain information, reinforcing understanding and retention of key ideas.

Explore Multi-Sensory Techniques

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Engage multiple senses during studying to enhance retention. Try reading aloud, acting out excerpts, or using tactile materials like flashcards. Experiment with different approaches to see what works best for you.

You could use textured paper or index cards to add a tactile element to your study materials. Or incorporate kinaesthetic learning activities into revision sessions. For instance, you could use physical objects or manipulatives, such as building blocks or modelling clay, to represent abstract ideas or historical events. Acting out scenarios or role-playing historical figures can also help internalise information and make it more memorable. Additionally, incorporating movement breaks into your study routine, such as taking short walks or doing simple exercises, can help you stay focused and energised during longer study sessions.

Use Technology Wisely

Embrace technology as a tool for studying, but be mindful of distractions. Use apps and software designed for organisation, note-taking, and time management. Set boundaries for social media and other distractions to maintain focus during study sessions.

Apps that can help with this include:

Focus@Will

A music app designed to improve focus and productivity. It offers a variety of instrumental tracks scientifically engineered to enhance concentration. Users can customise their listening experience based on their mood and preferences, making staying focused during study sessions easier.

Be Focused

Be Focused is a time management app which breaks study sessions into intervals of focused work followed by short breaks. Users can customise the length of work intervals and breaks to suit their preferences. The app also tracks productivity and provides insights into study habits over time.

Practise Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself throughout the revision process. ADHD can present unique challenges but doesn’t define your intelligence or worth as a student. Celebrate small victories, practice self-care, and seek support from friends, family, or professionals when needed.

Navigating exam season with ADHD requires patience, flexibility, and a willingness to explore alternative study methods. By understanding your unique learning style and implementing tailored strategies and study aids, you can revise effectively and succeed in your exams. Remember, it’s not about perfection but progress, so keep moving forward one step at a time. You’ve got this!

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