Staying Motivated To Study Through A Pandemic 101 For Students

Learning online has become the new norm, and may go on for a while more until the pandemic dies down. While the idea of online classes seems great (yay, sweatpants!), the reality is sitting on Zoom all day and trying to absorb what the teacher is teaching you is no easy feat.

That, coupled with the fact that you are not in a physical school setting, can really dampen your motivations when it comes to preparing for exams. Don’t despair though, we have some tips to help you keep your head up and ace those exams. After all, there’s no reason to put your dreams on hold just because the circumstances are difficult!

Step 1: Make Online Classes Work For You

While it’s easy to keep your camera off and browse YouTube videos while your teacher gives her lesson, this isn’t going to get you far in terms of learning. Instead, try the following tips to ensure you can absorb and retain the information you get during online classes:

  • It may seem old school, but taking handwritten notes on paper or a tablet via a stylus can help you process and retain what you are learning better. Studies have shown this time and time again; writing notes forces you to understand the concept the best way possible and then write it down in a succinct way.  While you may feel typing on your laptop is faster, you will likely be running on auto-pilot when you do this and not actually processing what you are hearing, which makes the act redundant.

  • Keep your camera on during the class! Not only will your teacher appreciate being able to see your face as he/she teaches, but it will also help you focus more on the lesson too because you are being looked at and thus, become more self-aware. This means you are less likely to drift off or engage in an unrelated activity, which helps you stay more engaged with the lesson. 

  • Do the assignments provided by the teacher (like, ALWAYS) and if you don’t understand something during the lesson, take the time to look up a relevant video or article online to help you understand. Google is your friend, and you can likely get the clarifications you need online. If that doesn’t work for you, then reach out to your teacher to clarify your doubts. This is not the time to be paiseh because it can make or break your grades!

  • Have study sessions on Zoom or in person (when it’s safe) with your classmates, and use it as a time to quiz each other or do exercises together. The social setting can help with learning for some people, so it may work for you.

Step 2: Goal Setting & Prepping For Success

While having a generic goal like “having straight As for the exam” is better than having no goal at all, it may not be specific enough for it to function as a motivator during trying times. Not only that, but having a disorganised study strategy can also make pandemic-time revision overwhelming and frustrating. So, try the below tips to set up a success-bringing routine:

  • Before you do anything, set some time for yourself to reflect on your short-term (next few months) and long term (next 5-10 years) goals. Start by writing them down, and then build a vision board (some great advice on this here) which you will then put in a place you will look at often (like your bedroom/study room). This will serve as an anchor point to help you be reminded of why you need to push and work hard for your exams.

  • Next, create a basic timetable where you set what topics/subjects you want to complete for every week of the coming month. The timetable doesn’t need to be rigid (because you probably won’t follow it anyway), but it needs to have clear targets you can aim for throughout the week. If you are doing this right and early enough, you should be able to complete all important topics for all subjects before the exam and still have some time for extra practice tests and exercises. 

  • The final month before your exams is not the time to be memorising information; be sure to complete all memorising and understanding of concepts before that final month. Use the final month for tackling past year question papers, doing lots of exercises, and holding quiz sessions with classmates. By this stage, if you were to have to look something up, you should already have some short notes you made that you can refer to instead of having to dive and dig information up from the textbook. 

By focusing your efforts on memorisation and understanding earlier in the year, and using the final months for reinforcement, you can be sure that you’ll be walking into that exam hall as ready as you can be. 


Step 3: Get Support From Loved Ones, Peers, And Teachers

Speaking of reinforcements, while you reinforce your knowledge, it’s good to also “reinforce” your mental and physical health. On bad days, be sure to reach out to family and close friends to have a healthy rant session. Get them to motivate you with positive words, or at the very least remind you of your goals or even that the end of your exams will come soon. If your school has the option, you can also speak to the school counsellor to get a different perspective on your struggles. 

Teachers are also good to talk to, especially if you have a close relationship with them. They have met hundreds of students in your shoes before, and they can tell you some success stories to motivate you to continue working hard.


Success Is A Sure Thing When Goals Meet Effort And Resilience

For those of you struggling right now to even pick up a book and turn a page, do find that little bit of motivation in yourself to take a tiny baby step toward preparing for your exam. Just start with reading at least half a page, and slowly bring up your momentum so you can keep yourself ahead in terms of your preparations. All the best, and hope the tips above have helped you!