Tips and Strategies for Effective Studying
’Tis the season—for final exams, projects and papers, that is. Just think—in a few short weeks, the semester will end and you’ll be ready to enjoy your holiday break with friends and family. Until then, it’s time for one last round of studying or putting the finishing touches on your project.
We’ve come up with the best ways to study for final exams, work on projects or write papers that will keep you calm, focused and ready to conquer. So, sit back, relax and take it all in. Oh, and no note taking is required.
Set a study schedule
The chances of you having more than one final exam this semester is pretty high, so the first thing you should do is check the due dates of each exam or project and plan a schedule around them. If you are working on a group project, plan dates and times that people can get together to work on it and include those in your overall study schedule. Set boundaries and limits for the amount of time you can study for each class – this brings us to our next tip!
Prioritize the material
Part of the game plan is to prioritize what material for each class may require more time to focus on. For exams, the best way to approach this is to break everything down into three categories:
- Material that will definitely be on the exam.
- Material that will probably be on the exam.
- And (the dreaded) material that “might be” on the exam.
If you have a good handle on one portion of the material, then you know you’ll need to spend more time on the other sections.
Make your own study guide
It’s great if your professor has put together a study guide for you but you may also benefit from making your own. Recreating the material in your own words not only reinforces your knowledge of the material, but it’s as if you are teaching yourself the material in your own way that makes sense to you.
Organize or join a study group
Ever hear the expression, “Two heads are better than one”? People have been “brainstorming” for centuries, although the term is new to the modern world. When it comes to studying, not everyone has the same style. The beauty of a study session is the combining of different study styles and the bouncing of ideas and material off one another. You’ll be surprised at how just listening to the way someone else explains certain material may help your own understanding of the subject. Additionally, being in the same study boat with your friends can help relieve the pre-exam jitters.
Take practice tests
They say, “practice makes perfect.” Unfortunately, we can’t go so far as to say that taking practice tests will earn you a perfect grade on the final. What we can say, however, is that studies have shown that taking practice tests improves performance on exams. Since the chances of seeing a version of the final exam is slim, experts suggest using flash cards to quiz yourself and your friends on the material. This study tip is an important step in keeping your mind sharp, focused and ready for exam day.
Did you know that taking a five-minute break every hour does your brain good? It’s true. One of the keys to successful studying is to take a “brain break.” Use that time to stretch, take a quick walk or grab a bottle of water and a healthy snack. Did someone mention food? That brings us to our next tip.
Eat healthy and get enough sleep
You’ve heard it a thousand times: It’s important to eat healthy and get enough sleep, when in fact the reality for most college students is dining on pizza, chugging energy drinks and burning the midnight oil. It’s hard to turn down a pizza, but instead of overloading on heavy food that can make you sluggish and lose your focus, experts suggest stocking up on water, nuts, yogurt and other healthy foods. And, if you must indulge in sweets, try to limit the sugar as much as possible – this will avoid a sugar crash!
Study to music
Several research studies have proven that listening to the right kind of music can put your mind into study mode. Did you know that tuning in to the right music can increase your concentration, relax your mind and improve your focus? Read all about the benefits of studying to music in our wildly popular blog, “Studying to Music Can Put Your Brain in the Right Frame of Mind,” and our latest studying-to-music blog, “Studying to Low Fidelity (Lo-Fi) Music Gets High Marks with Students.”
We hope you found our tips for studying for finals helpful. For more great pointers on preparing for these exams, check out our blog, “Finals Season: 10 Fun Study Tips to Help You Get Through.”
Take a deep breath and know you’ve got this. Staying positive and visualizing yourself doing well on the exam can also help! And remember—your mental health and wellbeing are what truly matter.