Though high school can seem like a marathon, graduation day is no longer a far off pipe dream from freshman year but a golden ribbon to break through at the end of the race. Just a few more sprints and your finish line is within reach.
That feeling of being "so close and yet so far" looms within every graduating senior. Although the acceptance letters are in and the grad party preparations are being made, don't try on that cap and gown just yet. There are still AP exams and finals to distract, er, deter you from your carefree senior year celebration.
Arming yourself accordingly is the only way to ward off pesky senioritis symptoms. Get yourself in the right shape for the last leg of the race to ace those exams.
Make Your Study Playlist
Make sure to compile a list of songs that help you focus and minimize daydreams. Songs with minimal lyrics and a steady beat will get your mind working without jumbling your thought process with nonsense.
Create separate playlists according to what time of day or night you'll be studying to set the right tone for the study sesh. "At night, techno and house are the only things that keep me awake and focused, oddly enough," says Hofstra University sophomore Dilpreet Kanth.
Labeling certain playlists on iTunes or Spotify or stations on Pandora will help narrow down your selection. For example, John Mayer and Michael Bublé help create a mellow afternoon of Powerpoint reviewing, while Skrillex and Bassnectar make for an intense late night of formula note cards. Steer clear from Top 40 Hits, and if need be, kick it old school with some Mozart or Beethoven classic symphonies.
Fuel Your Mind Right
During a late night study sesh, filling your blood stream with sugary energy drinks and caffeine is only a temporary fix destined to leave you in worse shape when you started.Get your brain into well-oiled machine shape fast by adding a few essentials to your diet.Foods like fish, eggs, walnuts, and Greek yogurt will not only improve your mood and skin, but they also contain Omega 3 fatty acids which build brain cell membranes and increase blood circulation.Pomegranates, raisins and spinach are high in antioxidants for memory retention. Mix together some of the brain-boosting essentials with this quick salmon and walnut spinach salad from Taste of Home magazine.
Make the Info Sing and Dance
Do what you have to to make your notes memorable. This means stickers, highlighters or internet memes associated with equations; literally anything that makes the words and numbers stick in your head. Your notebook may look like a third grader's, but your test results will prove your creative and pre-collegiette smarts.
Set Goals and Reach Them
Use your own motivation to accomplish your study goals. Don't allow yourself to go to parties or the beach with your friends until you've done those hundred flashcards of problems or written, and perfected, that 1500-word final paper. Past accomplishments, like getting into your dream school or even just getting an "A" on a test in the given subject will amp up your confidence and give you just the right amount of "I got this" ego boost to power through.
Gain some "Self Control"
If your own personal motivation doesn't do the trick, Apple has created one of the craftiest study applications sure to induce a love/hate relationship with your computer. It's called "Self Control", a free Mac application that limits time and use on specific websites that may be distracting. You type in which websites you want blocked during study time, anything from your favorite shopping sites to the classic poison of Facebook, and it adheres to your rules relentlessly.
"During finals, I try to ban myself from social media, but it's impossible [because] it's everywhere. But this app keeps you in check," explained Boston University sophomore Cecilia Blanco.
Even if you restart your computer, the time limit will remain! For more details go to any Apple location or MacUpdate.com for the free download.
Don't Let Studying Make You Blue
StudyBlue is a new network of student-created flashcards, study guides and practice quizzes that makes up one vast online database right at your disposal. The online flashcards can also be accessed from any iPhone or Android with their downloadable app for studying on the go. Get the app here and master the art of multi-tasking if you haven't already.
Keep Your Study Group Small
The old saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" can be applied to many situations. This is one of them. A group of five or more people can be lethal to productivity for many reasons. If you're all friends, the goofing off will ensue before you even get past the first chapter. If it's a random group and one person emerges as the leader, it can allow the others to sit back and slack off. Keeping a study group smaller – three to four people, tops – ensures everyone will pull their weight.
A Change of Pace with a Change of Space
If you're more of the lone ranger type of studier who avoids study groups but want to try a new study tactic, try getting out of the stuffy library atmosphere and moving to somewhere that sparks creativity and allows you to make connections in the material, maybe even apply it to the world around you.
"I know that when I study for sociology, since it's the study of society, I always go outside or somewhere public [because] I can look around at the people and think of the situations in real life," explains Hofstra University junior Dre Toppins.
Relocating to local coffee shop or even just your backyard will give you new scenery and a fresh perspective on the subject matter.
With your priorities straight, the right tools and the right mindset, those end-of-the-year exams will come and go, leaving you stress-free so you can resume fun things like prom planning and summer road trip prep. Just plan your work and work your plan for this last leg of your high school run. Good luck.