The freedom of summer is so close you can almost taste it. Yet there’s one big obstacle standing in your way between yourself and sunny freedom. Yup … finals. Whether you’re a high school student trying to make a good impression on colleges, or a college student trying to make it out and into the workforce, finals are a big deal. It’s also a lot of information to take in on such a wide variety of subjects. This can make cramming for finals a bit stressful.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and let us help you navigate through those shark-infested waters known as finals. You’ll be sitting by the poolside sipping fruity drinks in no time. Here are the top 10 study habits that will get you through finals.
1. Study with a Pen in Your Hand
One of the most crippling aspects of preparing for finals is dealing with the information overload. You are cramming a year’s worth of knowledge from at least four or five classes into your brain. Of course you feel like your mind is fried! Unfry that mind by drawing in your attention.
Your wandering mind is what’s causing so many blocks during this study process. It’s worried about all the tests you have to take. It’s antsy because it just wants the school year to be over. Not to mention, it’s bored to tears reading the material you were given for that random archaeology class that you thought would be fun.
To realign the mind with the task at hand, you need to distract it into focus. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? For one, studies suggest that fidgeting actually helps us pay attention. Since we are letting out nervous tension that may cause our mind to wander, holding a pencil may help redirect that energy. Instead, you may be prone to take more notes.
In addition, hand writing notes helps with memory retention. Research compared note-taking habits of those who use laptops and those who use a pen. Studies found that taking handwritten notes resulted in fewer words being written down. Therefore, the key points were there and fluff words were omitted. This caused the handwritten note-takers to recall more facts.
2. Take Breaks by Stepping Outside
If you were to think of your mind as a computer, the conscious mind processes new information at 120 bits per second. From there, it’s system overload. If you keep stuffing information into your brain, you’re not going to retain it. Therefore, you should step away.
A good habit to get into is incorporating the Pomodoro Technique. This is a regimented schedule of how to handle your studying:
- Set a goal for a task
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on task for 25 minutes
- Take 5 minute break
- Work on task for 25 minutes
- Take 5 minute break
You continue this interval until you reach four 25-minute studying sessions. At this time, take a longer break.
During your break, get up. Walk around. Sitting sedentary all day will do a number on your body. When your body is uncomfortable it will let the rest of the system know. This will be the equivalent of trying to study with a mariachi band surrounding your table.
Not to mention, fresh air and vitamin D from the sun are all good for rejuvenating your mind. Take a few moments to get away from screens and books and take in the beauty surrounding you!
3. Go to a Review Session
You don’t realize how much material you cover in a school year until it’s finals season. That is why you should go into review sessions. This is a good way to re-familiarize yourself with concepts you may have forgotten about. It’s also a great tool to see how much information you actually do remember. Attending review sessions can help you better navigate a plan of attack for your cram time.
If your professor is throwing a review session, this will be a good way to get an indication as to what will actually be on the exam. Whatever they spend more time on is most likely on the finals. Plus, it allows you to ask questions as they pop into your mind.
Lastly, try pairing up with others in your class for a study group. Where some have strengths, others have weaknesses … and vice versa. The best way to learn is to bounce ideas off of your peers. Plus, they will make studying more fun.
4. Make Sure You Get Your Sleep
This should go without saying. We are all zombies without our Zs. You are doing yourself no favors if you are sleep deprived and studying. How can your mind retain any information when your eyes are battling with every fiber in your being to stay awake?
The general rule of thumb is you want eight hours of sleep. If that’s unrealistic, get as much as you can. In these moments, you may even want to turn to an all-natural supplement like Sleep Fast that will help you regulate your melatonin production.
To increase your memory retention, try sleeping right after studying. Studies show that your brain pathways are still open to processing information. When you sleep, your mind stops concentrating on anything else. This allows the new memories to engrain themselves into your banks.
5. Stop Procrastinating!
Not to get all Nike on you, but just do it. Putting off studying until you’re ready may result in never being ready. There really is no time like the present. So pick up a book. Grab a pen. Get to work.
Perhaps the mere idea of studying all this material is becoming too much for you. Chances are, that’s a reason why you ended up procrastinating. When you don’t know where to begin, it might seem easier to do nothing at all.
So, plan each day out around studying. Go back to that Pomodoro Technique. See what you can accomplish study-wise by following those guidelines. By putting a plan into action, it holds you accountable. Therefore, you are less likely to procrastinate.
6. Organize Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Let’s be honest with ourselves. There are so many classes and so little time. So, look at your finals schedule. See where you can fit in at least a little study time for each subject. From there, take a look where your free time lies. That is where you dissect your strengths and weaknesses.
After going to review sessions, you should know which areas of your studies need more brushing up on. Devote more time to those. If you need a lot of help, it may be time to seek out a tutor.
Otherwise, weigh your pros and cons. Does one class mean more to your GPA? Does the other have a bigger effect on your major? With a clearer look at the big picture, you can better prioritize your study time.
7. Come Up with Mnemonic Devices
Our brain recalls information much easier when it associates the topics with things it’s already familiar with. That is why you need to come up with mnemonic devices.
For instance, the way to spell arithmetic can be remembered by this little antidote –
This fun little saying helped many elementary school children learn how to spell this otherwise difficult word for that age bracket. Use this same ideology to find parallels between finals material and things you can recall.
8. Quiz Yourself
The only way to know if you’re ready is to take a dry run. Write out some questions on flash cards. Quiz yourself out loud. Run through the pile two or three times. On topics you have down, set those cards aside. Then work on the ones you needed a few shots to get or missed each time.
From there, ask others to quiz you. After all, you are not administering the test to yourself. Adding another person to the equation adds a bit of a stress dynamic that isn’t there when you are flying solo. This is much more along the lines of the pressure you will feel when you take your finals in the classroom.
9. Diffuse Rosemary Essential Oil
Studies have shown that essential oils have a direct effect on the limbic system. This is an area of the brain the regulates many of the brain’s functions. Two areas in particular that also have an impact on studying are memory retention and stress. When it comes to handling both, rosemary essential oil brings the 1-2 punch.
Molecules in rosemary essential oil, known as terpenes, trigger responses in the brain. A study found that rosemary oil improved results in memory tests up to 7% for those who participated.
In addition, rosemary also helps to inhibit the growth of cortisol. This is our stress hormone. When we are studying, the last thing we need is extra stress bogging us down!
10. Take Supplements That Help You Focus
Lastly, there are all-natural supplements that can help enhance your study habits for finals. For instance, Focusene uses a litany of herbs that have scientifically shown to help improve cognitive function.
Active ingredients in Focusene include:
- Dandelion – PDE4 inhibitor shown to improve memory
- Forskolin – Boost cAMPs to help with processing new information
- Phenylalanine – Precursor to dopamine, which fights stress
- L-theanine – Amino acids that increases GABA activity
- Acetyl-L-carnitine – Antioxidant that helps with sleep and mood
- Grape seed – Contains healthy fats that enables blood to supply nutrients to the brain
- Brahmi – Increases focus/concentration
- Deanol – Produces acetylcholine, which is critical for nervous system function
- Vitamin B6 – Catalysts for functions, boosts energy, and stabilizes mood
- Ginkgo biloba – Increases cognitive ability
- Red ginseng- Promotes healthy blood circulation
By adding these all-natural ingredients to your study regimen, your mind won’t sweat the little things going on inside. Instead, it will worry about the task at hand, which is passing the final.
What are some of your favorite studying tips? Let us know in the comments below!