Study Smarter Not Harder: 10 Tips for Prepping for Finals

With finals approaching much faster than anticipated, it is time to buckle down and focus on getting the best grades you can. With only so many days left to study, make sure you utilize every minute and do not waste time thinking you're studying, when in reality you're not. Regardless of how many times you wish it were true, leaving your book open on your lap while you listen to music, still will not help you absorb any more information. Use the following tips from SMU and UNT's Her Campus writers to study smarter and more effectively with the time you have already set aside to study.

 1. Make To Do Lists

The number one step to a great study plan is to know what you’re studying, so make a list! To stay organized and focused on what needs to done, start your study session by making a to do list of what concepts need to be studied and organize them by priority! You may want to do the most fun assignment first, but if it’s not due until way later then you probably have bigger fish to fry.

2. Eliminate Distraction

It’s hard to put the phone down and keep yourself from getting lost in a YouTube video vortex, but it needs to be done. To keep you from texting all your study time away, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and leave it on the other side of the room (if you really can’t live without it set an alarm so you can get some phone time every hour or so). To keep you off websites that aren’t productive try some blacklisting apps that will temporarily block you from sites like Tumblr and Facebook.

3. Teach It

One of the best ways to really absorb the information you’re trying to learn is to explain it (or teach it) to someone else. Break your study session into chunks and between each one grab a friend or significant other and teach them what you just learned; They’ll pretend their listening and you’ll relearn and reorganize information in your mind from saying it out loud. (If you don’t have someone to teach it to, create your own invisible audience!)

4. Rewards while Reading

To spice up reading a bunch of chapters out of your boring old textbook, reward yourself for completing small tasks! Every time you finish a page, chapter, or paragraph grab a gummy bear or a pizza roll! Studying sucks, but snacks don’t.

5. Eye Catching Notes

The only thing duller than taking boring notes, is reading boring notes. To avoid that channel your inner Pinterest calligrapher and trick out your study notes! Utilize fun colored pens, interesting headers, and engaging diagrams when taking notes over the concepts you’re trying to learn (in class or at home). You’re guaranteed to be more interested in them when you’re getting your study on!

6. Create Organized Notes

Outlines are one of the most visually organized ways to write out notes and easily review them later. Take your teacher’s study guide or provided notes and fill them in on a separate piece of paper in outline format. This is also great if your teacher creates a miracle and makes your test open notes!

7. Study in Bright Places

Don’t study in your bed or in your dorm if possible. Studying in a dimly lit room or in an area too comfortable will cause you to get sleepy and your brain will wander to all the things you need to do aside from studying.

8. Don’t Dress in Comfy Clothes

Wear clothes that make you feel ready for the day. Interview attire is a little over the top, but if you wear your comfiest sweatpants, a sports bra, and slippers to study, you will end up getting sleepy and taking a power nap regardless of where you are choosing to study.

9. Write Rather Than Read

According to psychology studies, writing something once is as effective as reading it seven times. Writing might take slightly longer, but takes a lot less time than reading it seven times! Plus, writing it in your own handwriting will help you visualize it during your test.

10. Study Periodically Through the Day

If you have five chapters to review for your final, read over your notes for the first chapter while eating breakfast, chapter two while you’re between classes, chapter three while eating lunch, and so on. Breaking up the studying into separate sessions will allow your brain to absorb each bit of information rather than cramming all the information into your mind in one sitting.

Karna is a sophomore at Southern Methodist University studying Marketing and Public Relations. She is the Social Media Director for Her Campus SMU, as well as a member of STUMO and Alpha Chi Omega. She is from Orange County, California and loves going to the beach and spending time with her younger sisters when visiting home. When she is not studying, Karna is usually exploring Dallas, listening to country music, or updating her blog, Simply Karna.

Kelly is a junior at the University of North Texas, studying interdisciplinary Studies and Spanish. When not blogging, she enjoys cooking, online shopping, pinteresting up a storm, and exploring both Denton and her hometown of Dallas. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram or see what's she's pinning lately on Pinterest, she's @kellysredmond on both.

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