It's Sunday night, the week before exams: Where are you? Hanging out in the library with a bunch of buds, along with a giant stack of (mostly unread) books and the feeling that there's no way you'll make it to bed before sunrise? Or are you on your own, relad and reviewing your notes and study guides, planning to hit the sheets soon and get up for a nice brain-boosting breakfast? It's pretty obvious that the latter is the more desirable situation, but in reality, most of us are last-minute crammers. Why? Because even the most gifted, dedicated students never really learn how to study. Luckily, it's never too late to integrate new techniques into your test prep routine. Read on—we've got the tips you need to make this finals season a success.
Find your study style. We’re all different – and that includes the way we learn. Before you hit the books, ask yourself whether you’re a visual (see), auditory (hear) or kinaesthetic (hands-on) learner.
Take a caffeine break but don't overdo it. If you find yourself requiring a midday boost, drink a caffeinated beverage right before you take a nap. It takes caffeine about 15 minutes to kick in, so your body will wake you up naturally (but set an alarm just in case). This way you won't oversleep and you'll be twice as alert when you wake up.
Study In Chunks. Although it's tempting (and sometimes inevitable) cramming really isn't the best way to study. According to the Dartmouth Academic Skills Center, you should study in 20-50 minute increments and give yourself a 5 to 10 minute break between each session. For best results, study throughout one full week.
Do the reading before the lecture. Easier said than done (we know!) but it’s also an ideal way to a) get the most out of class, b) reinforce the material twice, and c) impress your teacher with your super on-point questions.
As such, it's especially important to factor food into your study routine! Fruit and nuts are particularly good choices during crunch time. And fuel goes beyond what you're putting in your mouth: Getting enough quality sleep and taking some time to recharge is also super important. After all, what's good for the body is good for the mind.
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