College Tips

Tips for Studying for Finals

Studying for final exams is the second biggest enemy facing college kids (right behind “running out of ramen at 3am”). Here are our tips for studying success, with a little help from beloved college-themed TV show Community.

Study with classmates


A study group can add fun, encouragement and other benefits to preparing for tests.

  • Make sure you stay focused – you can have some fun, but your top priority is studying.
  • Ask each person to bring a few questions or topics to discuss so the session is productive and rewarding.
  • Not used to working in a group? Give it a try. You just might find that your study partners remember things you forgot.

Look at your finals as smaller pieces


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by one big scary thing. So “break down” your work into more manageable goals.

  • Creating a checklist of smaller goals helps you stay more organized and positive while you study.
  • Approach a test with a mindset of “first, I’ll study the material from week 1, then after dinner I’ll study week 2.”
  • For a paper, look at your work as a series of steps. For instance, make an outline, gather notes, write the introduction, etc.

Don’t try to “cram”


Studying all night long before your test will leave you overtired, which will make it harder to remember things and think clearly.

  • Instead, start studying in advance so you have more time and can take breaks.
  • For each exam, try to put together a study guide a week in advance. Then each night you can review some material without overwhelming yourself.
  • Creating flash cards can help reinforce learning as much as reviewing the cards later on does.

Get some exercise


This has a few key benefits for studying: You’ll have more energy, feel less stressed out and sleep better.

  • Get at least 20 minutes each day, whether it’s rapid walking, jogging or some other physical activity.
  • Studies show that cardiovascular exercise can help with memory and problem solving.
  • Exercising with friends can help you stay motivated and lets you socialize when you’re busy.

Pay attention to wellness


In addition to getting exercise, remember to pay attention to your body so your mind can perform at its best.

  • It’s tempting to stay up late, but getting at least 7 hours of sleep helps you recharge.
  • Drink a lot of water, especially if you’re drinking a lot of caffeinated tea, coffee or soda.
  • Avoid “junk” food and eat protein, vegetables and fruits instead. A lot of sugar will give a quick energy boost but then you’ll crash soon after.

Don’t focus too hard


Yes, you want to study and be prepared. But you’re better off not locking yourself in to just one thing.

  • Study for 50 minutes and then take a 5 or 10 minute break. Any longer and you’ll start to lose focus.
  • Try moving to a different subject each hour. This will help keep your interest, and you’ll feel refreshed when you return to a prior subject.
  • You don’t need to put equal time into studying for each test. It’s okay to put more effort into harder subjects.

Like our tips? We’d love to know yours too. Leave a comment and let us know what are your best tips for studying.

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