Worried about your upcoming finals or AP tests? Reduce stress and ace your tests by using these study tips from a graduate student.
- Find a study space that suits you.
For students who need a bit of chaos while they work, coffee houses usually have the perfect amount of chatter and noise while also having private study nooks. For students who want freedom from distraction, a room with the door closed and a white noise playing (like simplynoise.com) is ideal. Study rooms in your school or public library also make great quiet spaces. Be sure your surroundings are comfortable to you before settling in for studying.
- Enjoy your favorite snacks or drinks while you study.
Cheese and crackers, granola bars, vegetables with dip, or peanut M&M’s are a great treat to keep you awake and focused through long study sessions. Coffee, tea, or soda may sound like a good idea but too much caffeine can impact sleep or make you dehydrated so don’t overdo it.
- Never study where you sleep.
Sitting upright in a chair will keep you in study mode much longer than lounging on pillows in your bed. Being in your bedroom may be fine, but save your bed for sleeping.
- Don’t try to learn anything new the night before.
Especially if you are part of a study group or study with friends, don’t force yourself to learn their approach right before the test. If one of your peers use a different method to get their answers and it helps you – good. However, you’re not confident with a new approach too close to test day you could ruin your chances. Stick to what you know.
- Don’t put all of your time into one area.
It’s tempting to spend 3 hours on science and 1 hour on everything else if you feel science needs your attention most, but this is a gamble. You risk not preparing well enough for an entire cluster of subjects because you were in a panic over one. Attack the chapters and the problems where you struggle most so that you use your time well. Spending some extra time here or there is not an issue but give every subject the attention it is due.
- Avoid thinking “I should have” and “I would have.”
It is useless to breakdown about how you should have asked that question or met with that study group. Your notes and the knowledge will have to do, and if you study well, they’ll be enough.
- Beware the allure of “study buddies.”
Friends can help when you are feeling stuck but committing to a study partner is not always best. Everyone studies differently. Your friend may enjoy going over Brown v. the Board of Education with his Pandora station all the way up and a case of sugar-free Red Bull. But if you’re the type of student who needs calm and quiet, you will be completely lost. Be certain that your study mate works the same way you do before agreeing to share your focus time.
- Take breaks while you study to stay sharp.
Study in blocks of 60 minutes with 10-minute breaks in between. If 60 min feels like a challenge, start with study blocks of 30 minutes with 5-minute breaks. Set alarms on your phone to let you know when to start and stop and stick to them. During the study block you should only be studying – don’t pet the dog, don’t check your email, don’t text, just hit the books. Find apps to help you stay focused and on task.
- Do something fun before you go to sleep.
Don’t study up until you go to sleep, it can make sleep a challenge. You may lie there questioning whether or not you will remember things tomorrow, or if you learned everything correctly. Instead, give yourself at least 30 minutes before bed to do something completely unrelated, fun, and relaxing. Snapchat, TV, a video game – whatever helps your brain decompress.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
This tip will give you a serious advantage. The student next to you may have studied their notes 6 times over, but with only 2 hours of sleep they aren’t likely to remember as much. Get some real sleep and your nerves will thank you.
Use assignments and appointments in GuidedPath to help you with pacing as you prepare for finals. Set appointments for study groups. Use assignments to record project or class deadlines and pace your studying of subjects.