The semester is almost over—you just have one more thing to do: pass your finals. No big deal, right? With these tips, you’ll be ready:
1. Break down each subject into topics.
The best way to approach studying is to hone in on particular topics. You should never say you’re going to study Biology or World History. That is far too vague (and overwhelming) and doesn’t help you in the slightest with prioritizing study time.
Instead, determine what the main topics are going to be for the exam and break it down into sections. Take 10 to 15 minutes to sketch an outline. Begin with five main topics and write down three to five bullet points to study for each.
Study resources for the courses you’re actually taking—whenever you need them.Start here
2. Find a new study spot.
While it’s important to find a comfy spot to study, don’t get too comfy. Your home, while quiet and convenient, is also a place you associate with sleeping, eating, and watching TV. In other words, there’s nothing stopping you from making a sandwich and taking a nap—tempting, right?
The best places to study usually have just enough sensory stimulation to keep you on your toes without getting distracted: coffee shops, the library, a bookstore, or even a park.
3. Block distracting sites.
Facebook, email, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube—nothing here will help you pass your finals. So block them! like StayFocused (for Google Chrome) and SelfControl help you stay focused by blocking sites for a certain amount of time. And don’t forget to turn off your phone!
4. Try practice questions.
Research shows that quizzing yourself is a great way to learn, and there are thousands of practice questions out there at your disposal. Why not take advantage of that? Find course-specific practice questions at Course Hero.
5. Chew gum.
Gum can do a lot more than just give you minty fresh breath—it might give you an A! Studies have shown that people who chew gum while studying AND while taking the test performed better than those who didn’t chew gum at all or only briefly chewed gum before the test. The reason: chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates memory recall.
6. Write by hand.
Science has proven that people who take notes by hand have a deeper understanding of the material than those who relied solely on their laptops. While computers have definitely made research more convenient, they tend to trick your brain into thinking you understand the material. It has an effect similar to using a highlighter.
Better yet, take notes first and then type them into study guides later. The repetition will help you learn the material, and then you can share study guides with others.
7. Read your notes out loud.
Research says you’re 50 percent more likely to remember something by saying it out loud versus reading it silently to yourself. Just remember to do this when you’re alone; your study buddies might not appreciate it!
8. Talk to your teacher.
Arm yourself with one or two specific questions about the material and schedule a quick meeting with your professor (or just talk to them after class). Doing so shows your teacher that you are engaged and thoughtful in your approach to learning. Plus, it never hurts to get some face time with the professor!
9. Teach a friend what you know.
Test your understanding of the material by taking a few minutes to tell a friend or family member about what you’re learning. Encourage them to ask questions; this will force you to revisit the concepts you’ve learned.
10. Write down everything you can remember.
Without looking at your notes or your textbook, write down everything you know about the topics you studied. Use the outline you created in #1 on this list as a guide. In addition to taking a practice exam, this a tried and true way to test whether or not you’re retaining the information.
11. Take a walk before your exam.
A brisk walk is proven to jog your memory. Walking or exercising 20 minutes before your exam gets the blood flowing to your brain and improves your mental clarity.
In a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, students were given a list of 30 words to remember. One group went for a brisk walk, while the others looked at landscapes. Those who went for a walk were able to recall 25 percent more words than those who sat still.