You are sick and all you want to do is curl up in bed and sleep but you have a big exam to study for. Don't worry—it's possible to revise for an exam and still get the rest you need to start feeling better! We've put together some tips to help you get through your study session while also taking care of yourself so you feel healthy and prepared on test day.
Method 1 of 3:Smart Study Strategies
1Incorporate writing into your revision. You have limited waking time when you're sick, so use the most effective and efficient revision techniques to maximize the use of your time and boost your chances of success. Writing is a wise use of your time. If you rewrite key notes and concepts in your own words, it is more effective than simply reading them or saying them aloud.
It's best to do so with a pen or pencil. Research shows that writing notes out by hand (versus typing them on a laptop or other device) can boost your comprehension and memory.
2Use active forms of studying. Studies suggest that using practice testing, like flashcards or mock exams, is more productive than just simply reviewing your textbooks or notes. Besides more closely approximating the format of your test, these activities force you to recall, synthesize, and utilize information instead of just passively reading or repeating it.
3Stimulate more than one sense to reinforce important knowledge. We all learn differently and favor different senses in our learning. Engage as many senses as you can in your study process and methods to boost your cognition and recall of information.
For example, read your notes, rewrite your notes, and then quiz yourself aloud on your notes. If you follow those steps, you would have processed the information you're revising in visual, tactile, and auditory ways, which can help ensure that you're covering the learning styles that work best for you while bolstering your grasp of a concept.
4Set reasonable goals. Your revision will seem more manageable if you divide it up into a series of sessions and set yourself a specific task for each. Since you're ill, be realistic about how much you can accomplish. Create checkpoints and allow yourself to rest when you reach them.
For example, you could break up sessions chronologically by studying a week or two of lectures at a time or thematically by studying a particular formula or concept.
Remember to only focus on one thing at a time for each session. Multitasking is not only stressful, but it's also less effective than honing in on a single subject or goal.
5Take frequent breaks. It's easy to get tired when you're sick. Exhaustion will seriously compromise your ability to study effectively, so be sure to pause regularly for rest and relaxation. Doing so will ensure that you're taking care of and listening to your body. It will also help you maintain your focus when you are studying.
Even when you're healthy, it's best to take breaks every 25 to 50 minutes in order to recharge your concentration. Take at least 5 to 15 minutes between sessions to give your body and brain the respite they need to function at their best.
If you're sick, remember that brief but focused studying sessions will be more useful than trying to sustain your attention for hours at a time. Revising in short intervals is actually proven to be more effective than prolonged study sessions.EXPERT TIP
Bryce Warwick, JDAcademic TutorBryce Warwick is currently the President of Warwick Strategies, an organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area offering premium, personalized private tutoring for the GMAT, LSAT and GRE. Bryce has a JD from the George Washington University Law School.Bryce Warwick, JDAcademic Tutor
Expert Trick: Keep your momentum going by studying for shorter stretches. Then, after each break you can study at maximum focus without having to push through your brain being foggy.
Method 2 of 3:Prepping Yourself for Effective Studying
1Determine whether you're too ill to study. Some illnesses and/or their associate remedies will prevent you from studying due to extreme symptoms like pain or intense drowsiness. In these cases, prioritize getting better over getting a good exam score and be realistic about what, if anything, is achievable. In other cases, although you feel rotten and can't get much further from your bed than the bathroom, you may still be able to read, do online test questions, or use other study methods to keep on learning.
Let your teacher know as soon as possible if you'll miss class time due to an illness. Reach out by email or your teacher's preferred method of communication.
If you are seriously ill, most schools will offer alternative arrangements for exams. Go to the doctor immediately to seek help and get an official note that can verify your illness to school officials.
2Start with a positive attitude. Being sick can make studying feel like a hopeless endeavor and increase your anxiety about exams. Adopting an optimistic mindset (for instance, by reminding yourself that you're doing your best in spite of the circumstances) and avoiding destructive thoughts (such as, “I'm so sick, I'll never be able to pass this exam”) will help you pull through a tough time.
Keep in mind that any revision that you're able to do is going to be useful, no matter how minimal it is. It's better to study as best as you're able to, than to give up or not study at all.
3Create a good study environment. To study effectively, you need an environment with minimal distractions; this is even truer when you're sick and distracted by all your symptoms. Take some time to prepare an appropriate space that's conducive to studying and has everything you need at your fingertips.
Minimize your distractions. Find a quiet place away from other people. Turn off your phone, television, or other electronic devices that you do not need for studying.
Make sure that you're comfortable. Avoid studying in bed since it's most likely going to make you sleepy, but do pick a seating arrangement and position that will be relaxing during the length of your study session. You don't want back pain to add to your other bodily woes when you're sick.
Study in a well-lit room. Even when you're not ill, poorly lit spaces can cause headaches and eyestrain. When you are sick, you'll want to avoid exacerbating these symptoms or risk falling asleep.
Keep the means to quickly address your symptoms at hand. For instance, be sure to have a box of tissues and a waste bin to catch all those sniffled-in tissues. You may also want to have cough drops, medicine, water, and snacks with you so that you don't need to interrupt your study session to get them.
4Eat a healthy, balanced diet. It's tempting when you're revising to go for quick meals and snacks of take-out and junk food. When you're sick, food in general may seem like a dismal or distasteful prospect. But, the best way to keep yourself going is to eat fresh, healthy food that will give you much needed energy and nutrition.
Avoid greasy and sugary foods that can decrease your energy. Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in healing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, are a key part of your diet.
If your sickness allows, be sure to eat fiber-rich carbs, like oatmeal and whole grains. They're not only an important part of a healthy diet, they're also vital to keeping your mind sharp since your brain uses up glucose when you study.
5Drink lots of clear fluids, especially water. Doing so will help you stay hydrated, bolstering your immune system and replacing any fluids lost through coughing or runny noses.
Avoid alcohol since it makes you dehydrated and will certainly not help you to study.
6Take caffeine in moderation. Being sick with a cold or the flu is proven to make your brain less sharp. It negatively affects your mood, reaction time, thought processes, and memory. You can help counter these side effects of sickness with small doses of caffeine, such as drinking a small coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverage.
Caffeine causes dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of clear, non-caffeinated fluids to address its dehydrating effects. For instance, if you have a cup of tea, drink an equal amount of water with it.
7Take medication and vitamins. Being sick often leaves you with fever and pains that can distract from your studying. Using over-the-counter or prescribed medicines can help relieve distracting symptoms. Also, take vitamins to help strengthen your immune system and get back to feeling better.
For instance, try acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen or paracetamol for aches and fevers. Cold and flu medicines can also help with congestion and sore throats. Look for non-drowsy varieties to avoid any sleep-inducing side effects.
Always pay attention to any medical warnings on medication labels and stick to the recommended doses. Avoid taking more than one medication or vitamin at a time.
8Get enough rest. You might be tempted to stay up all night when you're cramming for an exam, but this will only make you sicker and less likely to perform well for your exam. Your body needs plenty of sleep to help itself recover and to strengthen your immune system.
Not getting sleep will most likely make your symptoms much worse. Missing a night's shut eye decreases your ability to think and retain information for as much as four days, which could negatively impact your revision and lower your exam results.
Method 3 of 3:Getting Necessary Help
1Inform your parents when you're ill. It's a good idea to tell your parents, guardians, or other supportive loved ones that you have a particular test or exam but are not well. These people can provide a useful source of support for you in a difficult situation.
For example, parents might be able to help ensure that your home study environment is as comfortable as possible. They can also help get you to a doctor or liaise with teachers or school administrators if you feel that you need additional support.
2Go to the doctor. This is always a good idea when you're sick. But, if you do need to make special provisions for an exam, you will also need an official medical statement from a doctor. Seeing a medical professional can help you determine if your illness is likely to seriously affect your performance on exams or if you should take them as planned.
Many schools have campus health services that make it easy to see a doctor in a timely fashion and provide verification of your visit to teachers or administrators. They also have academic advisors who can assist you in making necessary arrangements to accommodate your illness.
3Notify your teacher. If your doctor thinks your illness may affect your performance, communicate that to the person overseeing your exam as soon as possible. They may not excuse you from the exam, but it's a good idea to keep them informed of anything that might affect your performance and see if they have any suggestions or offer any alternative testing dates.
The sooner you do it, the better. If you wait until the last minute before an exam, it will seem like an excuse. If you notify your teacher in advance, it's more likely that they will have time to respond to your concerns and offer support.
A simple email will suffice. Write something like, “Dear Professor Chan, My doctor recently diagnosed me with pneumonia. I am worried that the illness will affect my performance on Tuesday's exam. Is it possible to delay my exam if I'm not better by then, or do you have any other advice? Thank you.”
4Check out your school's policy on illness. If you feel that being sick is going to seriously impact your test results or grades, contact an administrator to see if there is an established policy for addressing student sickness during exams. Sometimes administrators will have more direct knowledge of a school's specific rules surrounding the issue than individual teachers will. Even if they can't answer your question directly, they will know who to forward it to.