Hey guys! I know a lot of you myself included, have finals right now, and it’s a pretty stressful time of year. Instead of getting into the Christmas spirit, you’re trying to cram for final exams (I’m with you there). This isn’t a typical post for me, but I wanted to share with you some of my study tips that I use that I have found to be successful so far to help possibly alleviate some of that stress that comes with exam season!
These tips may apply to some classes and not others, it all depends, but I use these techniques in university for a lot of social science/humanities courses but they should be pretty universal.
- Try your best not to leave it to the last minute. I know that sometimes you aren’t given much time to actually prepare for exams, but you have to use every possible opportunity and not waste any time by procrastinating if you want to reach your full potential and get the best grade possible on the exam.
- Make a schedule! I can’t stress the importance of this enough. This is one of the best strategies that I have found works for me, but you have to stick with the schedule you make! This way it keeps you on track, organizes your time, and ultimately makes you less stressed out because instead of cramming the night before for a 300 question exam, you have left yourself plenty of time to spread the studying out. Surprisingly, studies show that studying is more effective for retaining information and actually learning it, when done in increments over a longer period of time, rather than crammed the night before. I use my agenda for making a schedule, and I love it, it always keeps me organized and I just feel better knowing that my day is planned, and I’m going to get things done.
- Prioritize! Obviously, you can’t study every single idea or topic that came up in the class, so don’t even try to. This is just a waste of time, and it also increases your stress level. Simply, make a list of the most important topics covered and use your judgement as to what you think will actually be on the exam.
- Find a nice quiet place to study like a library. I go to a university with an AMAZING library, it is so perfect (and as a book lover – I love to be surrounded by that many books, it puts me in a more relaxed mood). The library is always a good place to study to remove yourself from any distractions.
- Shut off your technology. Shutting off your phone and logging off of social media has proven to do me wonders when studying! I know everyone has the urge to check their Facebook accounts to see if they have messages, or text someone about their day, but people will understand if you tell them that you’re shutting off your phone because you need to focus on studying. 🙂
- Make reviews. This is a technique that I have used for many years now, and it proved effective in high school, and so far in university as well. My exam reviews often have the most important topics, definitions, events, people, and theories that were covered in class.
- Ask someone to test you. You can make your review in whatever way you want, but I find it helpful to make headings and make it easy for someone else to test you on it. I always get one of my family members to quiz me on the information. This helps me to figure out what I already know, and what I need to spend more time on. It’s also effective because on the exam, you’ll most likely remember telling the person who was testing you, about that exact theory or topic. Most of us remember our conversations, so this acts as another method of retaining information, after you’ve read it, summarized it, and written it down.
- Use different colours. I’m a big fan of colour coding. Some people believe this is like so totally organized, but really it just helps me visualize that part of my review, when I’m answering the question on the test. I can remember that I wrote for example the topic of “judicial review” in green and I wrote important facts about “John Stuart Mill” in blue. Another thing that I’ve found is helpful is different coloured sticky notes, as well as highlighting! – I have SO many school supplies in every colour it’s crazy I know, but it’s what works for me!
- Take breaks! Yes, I know you probably don’t have much time to study but it is important to take periodic breaks. Studying for hours and hours and hours continually will sometimes actually reverse the good you’ve done. Sometimes your brain will go into ‘overload’ from having so much information crammed in at once. Also, taking periodic breaks really does relieve some stress. It’s healthy to walk away from your desk sometimes and go for a walk, or hang out with friends.
- Reward yourself. You’ve worked so hard all day, and you’ve accomplished everything on your to-do list or in your planner! That is a very good accomplishment and should be rewarded! Go read a good book for awhile, or go shopping. Do something that you love to do! This will keep you motivated during the hard part when you don’t want to study because you know that if you accomplish what you set out to do, you’ll be able to do something actually FUN instead of .. you know.. school.. which we all know is rarely fun and is more often a pain in the butt than not. Usually I reward myself by going to the bookstore and buying more books. 🙂
I hope these study strategies and tips will work for you and be just as effective for you as they are for me! & good luck to everyone with final exams! 🙂