With the school year's end rapidly approaching, many students are feeling the pressure of finals. We've put together our Top 10 list of effective study tips to help get the most out of you studying habits. Which one do you find most helpful? Is there anything you would add to our list?
1. Stay Healthy
Finals can be stressful and make us reach for the quick and easy foods, but its even more important to eat healthy during times of stress. Foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and healthy grains can boost brain power. Except being healthy doesn't only mean what you consume! Make sure you're staying active, too. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain and helps memory retention. Lastly, sleep! Getting a full night's sleep lets your brain reset, improves focus, and lets you recall that information you focused on later.
2. Set Study Goals
Sometimes the sheer quantity of information to be reviewed can be overwhelming. Help counter this by breaking your time, and your content, into manageable pieces. This could mean allotting specific times for certain subjects, or creating a goal such as, "I will memorize this bank of twenty vocabulary terms by the end of this hour." By setting practical goals for yourself you can make the mountain of materials seem a little more achievable!
3. Schedule Subjects
Scheduling your time is one of the most useful ways to make sure you accomplish everything you need to. Apps, calendars, and planners abound so find the system that works for you. The more specific you can be with your schedule, the better. For instance, "Tuesday 5-6: Read chapter 4 and take notes" works better than "Study economics". Be realistic though and realize interruptions will likely happen so give yourself a little extra time than you think it may actually take. If you finish early, you've earned yourself an extra break!
4. Know Your Time
Some people function best between the hours of 9 am and noon. Others of us need the recharge of an afternoon nap before we can tackle the to-do list. Maybe you're one who loves burning the midnight oil when the world is quiet and has fewer distractions. Whatever time of day you're the most alert and can crank out the chores, plan to tackle your priority assignments.
5. Use your Friends
Study groups can be your best friend and when you combine that with your actual best friends, it doesn't get much better. You're going to have questions, they're going to have questions, and odds are they won't all be the same. Take the opportunity to explain the concepts you clearly understand and let them do the same. Everyone has their own way of understanding something and sometimes, hearing it explained by someone else is the ticket to finally understanding that tricky concept.
6. Teach It
Speaking of explaining thing to your peers in that study group...if you can teach it, you know it! Its one thing to be able to make enough sense of something for yourself but explaining it to another person requires you to reason through your understanding in a totally different way. They'll probably have some questions which lets you justify your comprehension and that's always a comprehension clincher.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and countless others can consume more time than any of us want to admit. You don't have to unplug forever, but doing so can ramp up your focus and accomplishment. If you're a total social media addict, give yourself a 5 minute break each hour to get caught up on the latest memes.
8. Ask for Help
If there is a topic you find particularly challenging, reach out to people! Peer study groups as we mentioned above are great but don't forget about your instructors. Teachers want to know when you have questions! It shows them you're engaged in the learning and most of the time, they'll gladly carve some time out of their schedule to review something. Pro Tip: If they schedule an exam review session - GO! (I went to several in college and it was like a sneak peak of the actual exam. Who doesn't want that?)
9. Reward Yourself
Studying is hard work. Period. All of us can benefit from a little motivation and when you've got a gnarly assignment, the promise of a reward may be all that's pushing you. If the weather is nice outside, treat yourself with a walk to the coffee shop. Maybe a massage to celebrate finishing your term paper?
10. Practice Testing
Use prior tests to your advantage! Going back over previous tests helps you get used to the format of the exam. Plus, you can time yourself to figure out how to best pace the different sections.