Studying is the literal worst. I am a HUGE procrastinator, so actually sitting down and studying is nearly impossible. Unfortunately, in college, studying is key to passing your classes. To make it even better, final exams are coming up. How are you planning on studying? If you can just go over your notes, or read from your textbook, well, good for you! I definitely lack the perseverance (and the attention span) to do that. If you’re more like me, keep reading because I’m about to give you some great tips to help you ace your exams.
1. Start Early
Getting an early start to studying can really help you retain information in the long run. I don’t mean a few hours- I mean a few DAYS. This will give you time to fully process all the information that you’ll want to remember. Start studying approximately a week before your exam.
2. Don’t Cram
I repeat: DO NOT CRAM!!! Cramming is one of the worst things you could possibly do for yourself. This goes along with starting early. Even if somehow your brain does process and remember all of the information you shoved in your brain, you’ll be mentally exhausted for your exam. Your brain needs time to remember things. Be kind to yourself.
3. Long Breaks
Don’t time yourself, it never works out. “5 more minutes” is easy to say, and can just as easily turn into an hour. Short breaks just don’t do it for me. They just add to my ability to get easily distracted. Give yourself 1 activity (ie. watching a single episode of a show- not a show you usually binge) and stick to it. If I’m watching a show, it’s much harder to say “30 more minutes” to watch another episode.
Keep in mind, this may not work for everyone. I like long breaks because it feels like an actual break and gives my mind some time to relax. Short breaks just give me enough time to realize how tired my brain is before getting back to work.
4. Remove ALL Distractions
Yes, including your phone. Make sure you house/roommates know that you’re studying and will be needing some quiet. Turn off the tv, and don’t listen to music with lyrics. I find video game soundtracks give studying a cool vibe. Be sure that the area that you are studying in is cleaned off and free of anything you don’t need to study. But seriously, turn off your phone and put it in a drawer.
5. Take Care of Your Needs Prior to Studying
Eat a snack. Drink some water. Pee. Get the AC to your liking. This way, you won’t keep interrupting your studying to get up to do things.
6. Organize Your Notes
Your notes matter a lot. Not only does writing something down help you remember it better, but it also gives you something to look over. They should be legible, organized, maybe even color coded. You can add a pop of color and highlight important information in your notes with different styles of sticky notes. I love this set because of all the different styles and uses it has. Also, I just love sticky notes. The best way to take good notes is to pretend like you are taking notes for someone else. You want them to be easy to read, and easy to get information from.
Tip: Long paragraphs/sentences are harder for your brain to focus on. Keep your words, sentences, and paragraphs short for easier reading.
7. Watch Videos
Watching videos on a topic or subject can really help you retain information. Youtube is a great platform, it has videos on everything. I personally like taking notes on videos because I can pause it to give me time to take nice notes. You can also rewatch things that don’t make sense.
8. Use the Review
Not the review. ANYTHING but the review. I get it. It’s long. Boring. You’re pretty sure the professor didn’t even teach you this stuff. But it is the easiest way to know what the test will be like. And if you’ll do well on it. Which is kinda the point. Plus, your poor professor put all that time and effort into writing all 500 pages of the review. Or was it 5? It felt like a lot more.
There, I said it. If you’re really struggling with a subject or certain material, most schools have some sort of free tutoring. It may be over Zoom at the moment because of the pandemic, but it’s better than nothing. I speak from experience when I tell you that it is actually helpful 90% of the time.
10. Set Achievable Goals
If you’re like me and have test anxiety, trying to remember every single little detail about a subject can be your downfall. Don’t try to remember everything. You’ll exhaust yourself and ultimately, waste time.
Now go, absorb knowledge so that you can forget it after you take your exam. Let me know in the comments if you have any studying hacks that I didn’t list on here. I believe in you, work hard and you will pass!