“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”, said no college student ever when it’s exam time.
I’m an expert in the field of careers and education, so don’t think I don’t know how it feels to have to cram at the last minute for an exam because you were focusing too much on other classes, didn’t study as much as you should have, or just didn’t feel like studying. We’ve all been there.
So how do you study? Do you cram? Study just enough to get by? Or do you study in a steady and paced manner? If your study skills and exam grades aren’t what they should be, check out these tips I had to learn back in my college days to ace the exams.
Do not cram. I repeat, do not cram! Looking back over notes and diagrams over and over again may seem like learning, but it’s not. It does not mean that the information is stored, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to recall it during a test.
The solution? Create a study schedule. Look at the schedules for all the classes you have. Look at the dates of exams and write them down in a planner so there would be no surprises. From there, pick dates and times when you’ll study for classes.
Next, prioritize. You may absolutely love psychology, but do you really need that much time to look at General Psychology? Trying to avoid Calculus? Don’t do it! I did it too many times when I was in college and I learned that it never worked. Make more time for harder courses, and less time for easier courses. I promise you’ll see a drastic improvement in your grades!
Organize Your Study Space
The only places I could efficiently get things done were in the library and in the classrooms in my dormitory.
Do not study at the desk in your room. There shouldn’t even be a desk in student’s rooms. The only work that’s there is work that lays there and never gets done while you scroll through memes on Facebook. In fact, don’t study in your room at all.
Studying in a library or classroom gives you a quiet area to focus. There are virtually no distractions there. If you need some noise, bring headphones, and listen to music that you do not typically like. You’ll get more done listening to Mozart than you will Rihanna.
Study groups aren’t a bad idea either. It gives you a chance to learn from others and get clarification on difficult topics.
Take Regular Breaks
You may think it’s great that you’re studying a subject or several ones for hours on end, but you’re just hurting yourself in the long run. Brain power is limited. It’s not a bad thing, but be aware of it. Your attention span worsens the longer you study because focusing on something over long periods of time can be difficult.
Take as many breaks while studying as you need. Go for a walk, play a quick game, or eat a snack. Speaking of snacks…
You Are What You Eat!
Honey buns and Goldfish crackers taste delicious, but it does your brain no good. Junk food doesn’t help your brain perform at its best. Veggies, berries, walnuts, and fish are known to improve memory. Click here for another way to boost memory.
Berries and walnuts make for a good snack, and they also help prevent neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s), lower cholesterol and blood pressure and even ease PMS symptoms, so eat up!
Doing bad on an exam can determine your final grade for a course, and quite possibly your future. Pacing yourself, creating the ideal study space, taking regular breaks, and making healthy food choices makes for better exam scores. Study hard and take care!