3. Hit the ground running…
Concentrating on exams often means setting everything else aside for a moment — except your health. The rules still apply during exam week, which means taking care of your body is essential. Eat mindfully and exercise regularly; workouts can help clear your mind and re-energize you between study sessions. With regards to energy boosters, everything is better in moderation. “Overdo it on caffeine,” warns WebMD, “and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.” So while Buddy the Elf can survive on “candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup,” you can’t. As for study drugs like Adderall, it’s best to avoid them altogether if you don’t have a legitimate medical need for them.
Then hit the hay.
Like, OMG, remember that time we didn’t leave the library until 7 a.m.? Yeah, and itwasn’t fun. All-nighters may have become a staple of college life, but you should never attempt them unless you feel it’s absolutely necessary to do so. Make an effort to get at least seven hours of sleep — not just the night before your exam, but a few nights before, too. As for you coupled-up collegiettes™, remember that the quality of your sleep matters just as much as the quantity. If you know you sleep better when you’re not sharing your tiny dorm bed with a cuddle-buddy, sleep solo for now. That’s one more reason to look forward to being done with your midterm!
4. Set the scene…
We’ve all taken power naps in the library and written late-night papers in bed before, but choosing an appropriate location to study is crucial! Find somewhere quiet where you know you’ll get work done, and don’t be afraid to get creative. While libraries and dorm lounges are often quiet and spacious, they’re also popular spots where your friends may filter through and distract you. Check out local coffee shops and unlocked academic buildings, and avoid studying in bed — we know your sheets are cozy, but that’s why you’re about to *yawn* fall asleep!
And dress the part.
Studying isn’t meant to be a fashion show, but it shouldn’t be Slouch City, either. You’re more likely to feel awake and be productive if you get out of pajamas, and this doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort! As for test day itself, have an idea of what you’re going to wear ahead of time so you won’t waste time in the morning — or worse, end up shivering throughout the test. “[While studying] I most often wear rolled-up jeans, a tank top or a t-shirt, a sweater or a jacket, a scarf, and closed toed shoes (like Converse!),” says Amelia Wise, a sophomore at Duke University.Balancing North Carolinian warmth and Duke’s A/C-blasted classrooms and libraries “always requires the proper amount of layers. This means I can be comfortable…and always stay fashionable.” Cool tip, Amelia.
One last thing,collegiettes™ — believe in yourselves! You’ve studied hard, prepared well and done it all in style, which means all there is between you and a perfect “A” is the test itself. And once you’ve finished, leave it behind you; do not fret about question 21, that part with the weird graph or which essay prompt was the best to answer. You can honestly say you’ve done your best, so walk in with confidence and leave ready to celebrate!
Lori Hage, student and TA at The Ohio State University
Dr. Irene Levine, Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine
Amelia Wise, student at Duke University