Study before finals approach

We’ve all heard the rule, don’t cram, study over the course of the semester a little bit each day and you won’t have to worry. Unfortunately, many of us fall short of that expectation, including me. Whether it’s from an unforeseen event; baseball game, family visit or just shirking responsibilities, we all lose study time. However, hope is not lost. Studying at the last minute can help, if you do it correctly. These are some tips and tricks I’ve utilized in last minute studying that have helped me maximize the time I had left:

1. Is to know what will be on the exam. This is a vital part to maximizing that last-minute cram. Since you are cramming for a test, you don’t have time to study anything you don’t need to. Review your study guides, ask a classmate or meet with your professor during office hours so you can get a thorough idea of what will be on the exam.

2. If you are going to cram, cram with others. Remember that class you missed? If you study in a group, odds are that one of those people attended, so you’ll have someone there to teach you what you missed. The social interaction also helps the information stick more than if you were simply staring at your book or reading your notes for the hundredth time. Simply put, if you talk to someone about it, you’ll remember it better than if you just read it.

3. If you are going to make flash cards, use them wisely. If you know what’s on the other side of the flash card, stop using it. Keeping your entire deck of flash cards together is nice, but you’ll only keep floundering on the ones you don’t know. Instead, each time you come to a flash card you do know, take it out of your deck. When you run out of cards, start over with your full deck and do it again, this way you end up with more practice on the concept or term you’re struggling to learn.

4. Take breaks. As counter-intuitive as this can seem, your brain is only hardwired to handle a certain amount of information at a time (somewhere around two hours). I prefer to take a break for about 10 to 15 minutes every 90 minutes. Don’t just stand up and stretch, go on YouTube and watch a funny video, or something else fun. Reward yourself for those 90 minutes of study time. However, don’t go socialize. It’s very easy to lose track of time when you’re in a conversation.

5. Remember to get a good night of sleep. As tempting as it is to pull that all-nighter to study for that math final, you shouldn’t. Not only will you end up losing all of the information you studied from being tired, you won’t even have the mental capacity to take the exam. Try to get a few hours of sleep before the exam and wake up with an hour or two to study beforehand. Not to mention, get enough time to get to class and eat a good breakfast.

6. Make sure you eat and drink plenty, I cannot stress this enough. You must keep yourself full and hydrated while you study. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you’ll put unnecessary stress on your body, which will only hinder your ability to remember what you need to for the exam. It is especially important to eat before the test as well. Don’t skip breakfast or lunch just to study at the last minute. Bring your materials with you and give yourself a light refresher on information you know while you eat.

7. Try to find a quiet environment. Attempt to find a place free of distractions so you can focus on studying. The library is a great place to go for this, especially because they provide reference materials to help you. In addition, you can also reserve a study room at the front desk for your study group.

As a student who has had to cram before, on more than one occasion, I can vouch for all these techniques. Good luck and get cramming!