It goes without saying that you have to study in order to pass the test, but are you really getting the most out of your sessions?
While there isn’t just one way to study, some techniques are better than others. When you’re preparing to sit down for a study session, there are certain hacks you should really try, and see if they end up helping you in the end. In addition to getting all your notes, books, and files together, you’re going to want to make time you take care of your body as well-- that means stocking up on study snacks, getting the proper amount of sleep, and making time for breaks!
We’ve put together this list of 10 study hacks for you to try out the next time you have a big exam, who knows, you might just surprise yourself with your improved grade!
It goes without saying that you have to get your stuff together!
Even if you don’t consider yourself an organized person, that’s okay, because you can still be organized for your study sessions. This is why starting out organized is one of the most important study tips. Start by having all your materials that you need for the exam laid out in front of you. This means any books, notes, websites-- and yes even pens and highlighters too-- that you anticipate you will need. Then try to visualize what notes go with what parts of the material that will be covered, and organize either by subject or chapter. Sometimes visualization is one of the best study hacks you can employ and is a great way to start your study session.
In the lead up to the exam, try and stay organized as well-- don’t allow your study area to get messy as that may cause you to lose something you need, or create more anxiety surrounding the exam.
Rewrite Your Notes in Your Handwriting
Your handwriting is a fantastic memory tool
Most college students take notes from classes, labs, and seminars on their computers-- and it’s a great way to keep up with professors who like to get a lot of information out into every class. However, even though your keypad is a fast way to get your thoughts down, it might not be the best way to study for an exam. Take the time to write out your exam notes the old-fashioned way-- by hand. You would be surprised what putting your notes and thoughts down on a piece of paper for a class can do to help you remember during test time.
Plus, going over your notes a second time is never going to hurt when it comes to studying, who knows, you might even remember something else important that should be included in that section as well!
Keep the Music Coming
Music is one of the best ways to stimulate your mind
While you’re studying, it’s a great idea to put some music on as well-- preferably something that isn’t too intense, or too soothing that you might be tempted to fall asleep! Music has been shown to have a definite effect on how you can absorb information and later repeat it, which is why this is a fantastic study hack. Classical music is the go-to favorite, as it can calm the mind with harmonious chords of a variety of instruments. If classical isn’t your style-- but you’d still rather not have to deal with voices and lyrics-- consider some ambient study music, or even slower chill step or trip hop. Regardless of what genre you choose, make sure that the music is contributing to your study zone, and not taking away from it!
Stock Up on Study Snacks
Because you owe it to your body to refuel!
Everyone knows the awful feeling of being hungry and stuck in class-- you can’t wait for the lecture to be over! You find it hard to concentrate on anything that the professor is saying, let alone process anything you’re writing in your notes. Don’t make this mistake when the time comes to study! Always make sure you take time to keep your body fueled so that it can operate at peak performance. Ask your parents or a loved ones for some supportive study snacks at this time, as they make some of the best care packages!
Be careful not to load up too much on high sugar foods or intensely caffeinated beverages, as these can lead to a very quick burn out. Instead choose items like nuts, whole grains, and water-- lots of water to stay hydrated!
Make Sure to Get Your Sleep
Try to keep your sleep schedule the same
Next to a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, maintaining consistent sleep patterns is essential for bodies--and minds--to function, especially on test day. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can study for a semester’s worth of content the night before--as long as you pull an all-nighter. Instead plan ahead and pace your studying so that you do a little incrementally each day. This will allow you to keep your sleep pattern as close to normal as possible, which is essential if you’re going to ace that test.
Try to go to bed at the same time each night in the lead up to the test, and to make sure you’re doing all you can to get restful, and peaceful sleep. Use a sleep mask to block out lights and if you have noisy roommates, a good pair of ear plugs can do wonders.
Use Study Apps
Take advantage of technological help
There are a lot of apps out there designed specifically for students, so if you’re having a little trouble finding the time or the motivation to really hit the books, try a study app. Apps such as Study Buddy can help you get a handle on your studying habits, and even track and help you meet your study-time goals. You can choose to pair up with a study buddy for the whole semester and get helpful assistance for homework and other projects, or choose to just use the app up until you take--and pass--the exam. Sometimes the hardest part of studying is actually sitting down to do it, so this is a great way to hold yourself accountable and meet your study goals.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
A healthy body helps keep your mind focused
Although it can seem not necessary at the time, don’t forget to keep up with your regular exercise routine. Not only is it an essential activity to keep your body fit, but it also helps keep your mind focused and can provide a much needed study break. Of course studying is important, but so is your break time, especially when that involves exercise. You don’t need to carve out two hours for a mega workout session either-- just taking 20 or 30 minutes each day to do some yoga or take a walk or a jog is enough to keep you on pace to maintain your physical wellness.
If you can’t fit it in each day leading up to the test, that’s okay too, but you might be surprised what you can squeeze into your day-- especially if it’s good for your physical and mental health!
Consider Studying with a Group
Pool your knowledge of the subject together
Many people feel that studying is something they should tackle on their own-- if you have to take the test by yourself, then you should study alone, right? Not necessarily. Studying with a group is a super easy way to get access to knowledge you might not have in or your notes or if you have questions about the material. You can meet up a couple times before the test, or even just once, but the fact is that two heads (or more) are definitely better than one.
If you’re not into the group thing, that’s not a problem either. Just ask a couple of classmates if they’d be interested in sharing their emails and you can create a study group that way! Google Drive makes it so easy to share notes and lectures with other people, and is a great way to get answers or help when you’re ready to start studying.
Find Your Study Space!
Choose a place where you feel comfortable
Many students choose to study in the library because it’s quiet and it’s a lot less distracting than their dorms! But some people find libraries cold or uncomfortable, which can really impact how well they can get work done. If the library works, great, but if not, don’t be afraid to try other spaces. Some students have quiet roommates, so maybe your dorm room is the best place for you to hunker down and study--but the right headphones can really go a long way in making this possible for anyone! In addition to the library, you can also find space at the campus cafe or student center, which always has tables or couches that could make the perfect study nook.
If it happens to be a nice day, take those books outside and do some studying on the quad. The point is, find a spot that works for you, not where someone else says you should be.
Take Those Breaks
Give your mind a rest and get some down time
Never underestimate the power of giving your brain a break from studying! This is a super important tip, especially for those who tend to wait until the last minute to study. As much as you need to set time up to be focused on your studying, make sure to take time for breaks as well. If you want to use this down time for exercise, or watching a show, or even just chatting with a friend or family member, it’s important that it doesn’t involve going over your notes from class again!
Studying is an essential part of being a college student, so why not make sure you excel at it by following some of these top tips! What are your favorite study hacks? Let us know in the comments!