Coming up on exam season? We’ve all been there.
Studying can be difficult when it comes to final exams. What is the best way to study?And how can studying be made efficient? Some tips, like sleeping at least 7-8 hours on a good mattress the night before an exam, are tested and true — but others, such as incremented studying, can be personal preference. Either way, we’ve listed 25 ideas for proven study techniques and habits for you to consider for this finals season.
1. Be Present at School
The first step to learning comes before any studying actually occurs. Being present and attending classes is key for your finals studying process. Not only is attending important, taking notes and asking questions is crucial to kickstart the process of studying. Each class session will have valuable information to help you get the materials you need to study from, as well as any additional information your professor may have for you.
So, as tempting as it is with a busy schedule, don’t skip! It’ll pay off later.
2. Ask For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors, teachers, assistants, and your classmates are all valuable resources for studying! For college students, it can be beneficial to attend professors’ office hours, or schedule time to email questions to a TA and meet outside of class. You could even find out some information about the exam beforehand, or at the very least get some effective study tips on how to prepare for the test using class material!
3. Study Together
Studying together with peers in the same class as you can help during a stressful exam season. Not only can you pool your knowledge and ideas together to enrich each others’ study experience, the interpersonal interaction can boost confidence and motivation to learn. Studying together with others can also keep you accountable to a study schedule.
Some ideas for studying together include creating a collaborative study guide, bouncing ideas off of each other, or even practicing teaching each other the course concepts — you learn better when you teach others! Try out collaborative working software such as Markup, which allows you to highlight documents and work in a digital team space.
4. Know Your Learning Style
An important and overlooked part of the studying process is knowing your personal learning style. Some styles include visual, auditory, or solitary learning. Finding out the style of learning that best suits you can change your study approaches and routine, and help you learn better!
5. Make Mind Maps
Mind maps are a great way to study and get all of your thoughts on one page. Using a digital note-taking or sketchbook tool like NoteLedge can be a great way to visualize abstract information as well as use creativity and color to add to your notes.
6. Write Down Your Goals
Writing down your goals can help you prioritize tasks, persevere through studying, and stay focused. Relying on the timeline template to create an action plan can help you accomplish great things. You can use the science-based approach of SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound to ensure that your goals can be met in a timely manner.
7. Create A Focused Study Environment
In order to study effectively, many people need a focused, specific environment. This can include removing distractions, having proper lighting, controlling sound, turning your phone off or putting it on silent, muting notifications, and more. It can be helpful to designate a study spot or study spaces to focus. For some, this may be studying in complete silence, but for others, it could be working on exam prep in a library setting.
8. Get Organized
Getting organized can be one of the simplest but most crucial steps in the studying process. There’s a lot you can do, but planning ahead and keeping track of key exam dates, review sessions, deadlines, and finals schedule is super important.
9. Do Your Own Research
Doing your own research on the challenging topics and key concepts to develop a genuine interest in the content that you’re being tested on can lead to deeper understanding, compared to rote memorization. This can be especially useful for sections of content that are more difficult to grasp.
10. Recap What You’ve Learned
After each class session or lecture, make sure to take the extra time to do a quick review on your notes and critical content. Repetition is key! Reviewing your notes daily is beneficial to jogging your memory and practicing recall. You can also read your textbooks and divide your chapters up into sections, so you can easily recap.
Learn more note-taking skill: 5 Note-Taking Methods For College Students That Truly Work
11. Make The Best Use Of Resources
Think through the resources you have available to you. Whether that be lecture slides, audio recordings, library databases, online videos, or previous exam papers, these resources can all help you get the best studying done. You can also look for tools that collect study resources online, like Markup, which can help you to highlight important references and make annotations on websites or PDFs.
- Your Reading Assistant
- Highlight and annotate
- Save webpage & PDFs
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12. Take Regular Brain Breaks
Long study times can be very ineffective. Breaks are important when studying. For every half hour of intense study work, take a 5 to 10-minute break to absorb the information and get a good brain break in. Try out a technique such as the Pomodoro Technique, a tried-and-true method — it breaks up 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks.
13. Get Up Every Hour
Taking a break is not just about grabbing your phone and scrolling through the Instagram posts you missed, but moving your body and getting some fresh air. Getting up once an hour prevents muscle cramps, minimizes study fatigue, and increases blood flow. You could go on a nice walk, get a drink, or just stand up and stretch.
14. Eat Well
Having a balanced diet is a crucial but oftenly missed tip. What you put in is what you get out: there’s a reason why it’s called “junk food!” During finals week, make sure to fill up on brain food like high protein, high vitamin foods with healthy amounts of minerals and fiber and omega fatty acids, such as vegetables, fish, chicken, and rice.
Try to stay away from heavy meats and fatty foods, energy drinks, alcohol, and caffeine as they’ll only lead to feeling sluggish. If you get hungry during breaks, make sure to bring some balanced snacks and a bottle of water.
15. Ample Sleep Time
To help your brain function well, you’ll need ample sleep. Try to get around 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Make sure to listen to your body! Rest and relaxation is key to eliminating unwanted stress, minimizing anxiety, and retaining information.
16. Exercise Every Day
Studying for finals or any kind of exam is stressful. Taking a 20-minute walk, jog, or swim each morning or afternoon is a great way to stay active and clear your mind.Exercise also helps you sleep better, so you aren’t up worrying all night about tomorrow’s exam!
17. Create Your Own Quizzes
One of the best ways to make the most of a study session is to create mock exams for yourself, or ask a friend to help. The most common tool is flash cards, digital flashcards like Quizlet is a quick and great way to make your own quizzes. Not only will it test your knowledge, you’ll be able to mentally prepare yourself for the examination.
18. Make It Fun And Rewarding
Our brains are stimulated by “happy hormones” when we accomplish something and are rewarded, you can train your brain by rewarding yourself. This could be a nice meal after your study session, or even doing something nice for yourself, like taking some time to watch a Netflix series. We saw one example where you lay out a gummy bear for every paragraph read and reward yourself with sweet treats along the way.
19. Choose The Right Kind Of Music
If you’re big on listening to music while studying type of student, you could consider trying out different types of music to help with focus. For example, instrumental music, busy café ambiance, or nature sounds have been proven to improve concentration and help get you in the groove to learn and study. White noise also helps with studying.
20. Protect Your Mental Health
It’s just as important to take breaks for your physical health as it is for your mental health. As much as possible, try to stay in a routine and keep a calm environment around you. Take time to work through your emotions and thoughts so that you can keep your mind clear of brain fog.
21. Use Grounding Techniques
If you struggle with anxiety, especially before an exam, a good idea would be to try out grounding techniques. Activities like breathing deeply, savoring food or drinks, and putting your hands in water can help combat anxiety and stress.
22. Try Color Therapy
Color therapy is an interesting new way to look at things. This type of therapy uses color and light to treat certain mental and physical health conditions. For example, the color green, associated with nature, can relieve stress and calm a person. However, the color red could cause further tension. Surrounding yourself visually with a soothing color can help calm your mind!
23. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can help you “train” your brain to focus on what’s going well versus what isn’t. Whether it’s your outlook for your next exam or for your college career, practicing mindful gratitude can lead to all sorts of positive outcomes — both mental and physical.
24. Make Time for Your Hobbies
Even though studying is stressful, it’s not a good idea to completely neglect all other interests in your life. Take some time for things you enjoy. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a run – do whatever it is that you enjoy.
25. Help Others
If you have the opportunity to do so, helping others with study tips or in other ways takes the focus off yourself and, at the same time, improves your self-esteem and confidence. Helping others is always a great way to make everyone feel good. Whether that’s packing healthy snacks for your friends or reserving a study space for all of you to study, small acts of kindness go a long way.
Make Study Enjoyable and Effective
Finals season can be tough.
Although there isn’t one solution to suddenly make studying easier, we’ve provided a bunch of helpful tips to train your brain to enjoy the studying process. Whether you decide to listen to classical music, designate a specific study period in your day, or make a practice exam for yourself, we hope you can take away a good tip to use in your own study life. These strategies can help you figure out what type of study styles you enjoy, as well as enhance your student or college experience.
If you’re interested in some more practical studying solutions, check out Creativity 365 for your every need.