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5 Tips on How to Maximize Your Study Time

No matter how level-headed you are, with finals week on the horizon, it’s hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed. Whether your semester has gone relatively smoothly or you feel like you’re on the brink of drowning, here are some tips to keep yourself engaged and retain the most information as possible while you cram.


1. Make a list of your strengths/weaknesses for each course

Coaches don’t send their players on the field without a game plan, and the same should go for you when it comes to studying the cumulative material for a class. Before you buckle down and dive into full study mode for your finals take the time to sift through the material from the entire course, and old exams as well, in order to gauge where you need to brush up on the most. Tailor your study experience to yourself and your needs, and set a goal for specifics that you wish to learn. Setting a goal in this way will make your study time that much more fulfilling, and you’ll feel more prepared by the time your exams roll around.


2.  Know your ideal study environment

With everyone more or less in the same boat as you, normally quiet places around campus will be more crowded than usual. If you’re someone who can’t focus without near silence, you should scout out a quiet nook for yourself before you even crack open a book. On the other hand, if a little commotion is an ambiance that suits you, hunker down in a cafe or the like. Whatever atmosphere engages your focus and your attention more is where you need to be. It makes all the difference in the efficacy of your studying.


3. Alternate between solo and group studying

Studying with friends is great–it relieves some of the stress and you can learn a lot if you’re in the same classes, by walking through the material with one another. You can utilize each other’s strengths by having each explaining concepts that the other may be hazy on. There is a real benefit in walking through a mini-lesson on a topic with someone else, and teaching someone else a skill definitely helps you retain it yourself. However, studying with a group can become a distraction at a certain point, so you should also set aside some time to study solo.


4. Schedule time for distractions

Everyone is guilty of over-distracting themselves at some point. Whether it’s with music, YouTube, Snapchat, or Instagram, the distractions caused by the internet may be your biggest enemy during finals week. Three hours of studying may only be as beneficial as one if you’re constantly checking your phone or distracting yourself. So, to make your precious study time count the most, put the phone away and set a timer. Dedicate 45 minutes straight to uninterrupted studying and when the time is up, spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes as a break. Then, dive into the cycle again. Alternating in this manner will keep your brain and morale refreshed while enhancing your focus and retention of the material.


 5. DON’T pull an all-nighter

Your body, your mental health, AND your GPA will thank you for this. No matter how much of a night-owl you may be, forcing your mind’s gears to keep running in the wee hours of the night will definitely throw a kink in your circadian rhythm. Instead, in the couple of days leading up to your exams, wake up and start hitting the books bright and early. Dedicate your day to work and studying, and be sure to get a fitful night’s rest so you can perform to the best of your ability on your exams.


Good luck, and keep in mind that summer is right around the corner

Hope-Anne Elias is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a prospective Biology B.S. major, with a long-term goal of medical school. Her favorite dogs are Golden Retrievers.
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