College students, as independent as we may be, struggle to schedule their studying without planning one big cram session the day before. However, it is always best to avoid this final cram session—staying up all night on coffee and sugar does not help the brain! Here are some hacks to avoid that process and still ace your exam.
- Make a list with a rough outline of all you want to study for reference purposes.
Oh yes, you know you want to. Creating a list will keep you from falling down a rabbit hole of information you don’t need to know but saw when you started looking through lecture slides that you didn’t know existed. Make section headers, a couple of subsections and make a couple of check mark boxes so you can fill it out later! This will just help you stay organized while studying for all of your finals.
- Pull out your calendar app or notebook, it’s planning time!
I know you saw this bullet point and said: “Oh, boy.” If you know me at all, you know my Google Calendar is my best friend, lifesaver, and love. I honestly couldn’t imagine this semester without it and I highly recommend that each one of you starts using it if you are panicked about study period. It’ll help you split up your studying by subject and by day so you know how much time you will dedicate to each subject before you even start!
- Schedule some nap time so your brain can process what you study.
This sounds dumb, but it will do wonders for you during study period. Often times, with all the coffee and Red Bulls in our system, we forget to take care of our body. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a quick 20-30 minute nap will help improve your mood, alertness, and performance.
A fun fact: some kings also napped! John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and George W. Bush were known for the value they put on a good afternoon nap. #afternoonstudynap let’s make it trend folks!
- If you need to do an all-nighter, do it two days before the exam instead of the day before.
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, BUT if you decide on an all-nighter ~schedule it~ for two days before your exam. This is because the night before your exam you need really really good sleep in order to do well. I know I sound like your mom right about now, but I swear it improves performance so so much. University of California, Los Angeles backs me up as well. Their study says cramming the night before a test is a no go because it is “counterproductive.”
- Keep checking off what you have finished studying.
By doing this, you can track how long studying for a certain subject takes you plus it’ll make you feel accomplished while studying. That feel-good attitude could transfer to your studying as well and improve your ability to not worry on the past but focus on what is left to study.
- Two study sessions for the same material is ~required~
Reviewing the same material twice just helps you retain the material so much better than you will with one run through. There are so many studies that say this is true BUT do not make the rookie mistake and review everything twice at once. Space it out so that when you review it, it’s like a brand new study session so you have to remember it. Test yourself!
- Test yourself throughout the process, not just the day before!
Test yourself after every single study session so that you can ensure that the information is sticking and not panic yourself the day before the exam. By continuously testing yourself throughout the process, you will reduce stress the day before the exam and you will be able to relax when you do an overview from your original outline the day before the exam!
Then get ready to ace your exams!
As someone who struggled quite a bit with studying in high school, I can confidently say that this method has helped me tremendously and I hope it helps you going into this study period!