As finals week rapidly approaches, many students will start to feel the stress pile on day by day, and before you know it, you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Any teen movie you watched where the student is still studying at 4am for their upcoming exam now becomes horribly relatable.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Instead of studying hard, study smart. Here are some fail-safe strategies that will help you review in the best possible way, guaranteeing success in your exams.
Get Yourself Organized
Before you even start trying to review and study for finals week, be sure to get yourself organized and prepared, so you don’t find yourself spending valuable time later on trying to track down those pesky physics notes.
Get all your worksheets, books, notes, past exams, and other resource materials together and ready each time you start studying. This will ensure you can focus on studying, rather than where everything is.
No, I don’t mean pack up your current course and start learning something else! What I do mean is when you spend hour after hour focusing on the same subject, you’re only going to get bored. So switch it up!
Instead, spend an hour on one subject and then mix it up into something else. Tired of looking at all those algebra equations? Move on to Keats instead. This will help you maintain focus and (hopefully!) keep the sentences in front of you from blurring together.
Study in the Right Places
Where you choose to study directly effects how well you study. Of course, you’re going to want to minimize the number of distractions there are around you — such as noise, traffic, and other people — but it’s also important to change up where you’re studying.
Like the above, this helps to keep your mind fresh and focused and therefore able to retain more information. Try your dorm room, local cafes, college study rooms, outdoor paces, and the campus library.
As your finals draw ever nearer, it can tempting to slack off on cooking healthy meals and turn to a faster alternative, like pizza delivery or a bag of microwave popcorn. You may think this is giving yourself more time to concentrate on studying, however, it’s worth remembering that your body and mind are fueled by what you eat and drink.
If you’re eating processed food, loads of chocolate, pre-made wraps, takeaway, and just binging on coffee and energy drinks, it’s safe to say that you’re not giving your mind the food and fuel it needs to perform the best it can during these hard times.
Study in a Group
Imagine you’re trying to quit smoking. Quitting on your own is hard work, and it can be difficult, but if you vow to quit as part of a group, you’re there to lean on each other and support each other, and it’s much more motivational than trying to do it alone.
The same can be said for studying. “By creating a study group with the people in your class, you can motivate each other to stay on topic, stay focused and achieve your grades together” – explains Cynthia Ridinger, an Educator and Huffingtonpost writer.
Get in touch with your fellow classmates and find some time to meet. Not only will studying with a group prove a welcomed break from studying on your own, you’ll also be able to pool your resources in terms of class notes and other study materials.
And speaking of a welcomed break…
Take Well-Earned Breaks
When you’re spending every free hour cramming for exams, you’re sure to reach a point of pure exhaustion. Rather than pushing your body and mind to the breaking point, give yourself small breaks during study sessions to stay sharp.
One of the best ways to manage these breaks is to take them when you’ve reached a specific milestone. This could be memorizing a set of key terms, finishing a chapter, or whatever works best for you.
Another tried and true method is working for 15 minutes and then breaking for 5 minutes. Getting on a well-honed study cycle like this is a great way to stay motivated and focused throughout your study session.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Of all the advice in this list, getting a proper night’s rest is probably the most important. Sleeping is a vital process that your body needs, and purposefully depriving your body of it is only going to make you under perform and limit the amount of information you’re able to retain.
It’s much more beneficial to go to sleep at 12am and wake up at 6am than it is to go to bed at 3am and wake up at 9am.
Try to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night. To help you relax, avoid drinking caffeinated or sugary drinks two hours before bedtime and, though it’s tempting, stay away from your computer screen. If you’re looking for something to wind down with at the end of the day, try a book or a podcast rather than another episode of your favorite Netflix show.
Online Study Tools & Apps
To give you even more of a helping hand, here is a selection of online study tools and apps you can start using today to help you prepare for finals week.
Brainly – a beautifully designed tool where you simply input a question on any subject and receive a comprehensive answer.
Study Blue – an elite tool for finding study help, materials, classes, and groups all located in your local area.
State of Writing – an online blog full of articles, posts, and writing guides to help you learn how to best answer finals questions.
Essay Writer – an online writing community full of friendly professional writers who are there to help answer any subject or exam writing-related questions you have.
Exam Time – a complete exam preparation kit where you can create mind maps and combine learning resources into an easy to read and understand format.
Paper Fellows – an online writing community filled with writing-related quizzes that you can customize to any subject, helping you prepare for your exams.
Quizlet – an online tool for creating your own professional resource materials from flashcards to personalized games and more.
Essay Roo – an online writing tool to help you refresh your grammar and vocabulary skills.
As you can see, there are so many proactive things you can do to keep your mind focused and your studying productive. Just take your time, review smart, and don’t put your health on the line!
About Gloria Kopp: Gloria Kopp is an educator and a language tutor at UK Writings. She is a regular education contributor at The Tab and Academized blogs. Gloria is an author of Studydemic study blog where she shares her writing guides and tips with students and educators.