Midterm season is just around the corner, and to prevent you from rocking back and forth in the fetal position, I’ve made a list of ten things that will make studying for midterms so much easier. With the exception of the first tip, this list does not supply you with online tools that will expedite your studies or ways to cheat on the exam. Rather, this list focuses on tips that will help you maximize your potential and improve retention. Let’s get into it.
1. Quizlet Has Gotten Me Through Most Of My Classes
If you have a pulse and you live in the twenty first century, you’re probably already familiar with this site. Just in case you aren’t though, Quizlet is a website that can be utilized as a great study tool. All too often it’s used as an answer key for homework assignments, but the purpose of Quizlet is to provide you with the tools to ace your exams. In a sense, Quizlet is akin to Wikipedia in that anyone and everyone can post onto it. With that in mind, it’s a lot more veracious than a website like Wikipedia. Just corroborate the information with other sources.
2. The Sticky Note Method
If you’re a visual learner, you can post sticky notes around your house. That way each answer is associated with a place in your house. Post a sticky not in your bathroom to remind you of the archaeologist who founded Troy. Personally, I don’t find this to be an effective study tool, but I know a few people who use it often. Also, this is usually just suited for terminology. This method won’t benefit you during your lab midterms.
3. Time Management Matters
Time management matters. Be efficient. Spending an inordinate amount of time on studying one set of info can be enervating. If you’re focused on memorizing every bit of information you come across, by the time you’re done studying you’ll probably feel like you accomplished more than you actually did. Don’t become fixated on the details. Focus on the overall crux. Additionally, don’t sacrifice your sleep. Often you’ll think you’re gaining time by deferring sleep. Without an adequate amount of sleep, your cognitive functions are slower, and you’ll be less likely to retain information. In short, just don’t cram. Please.
4. Spread Out Your Study Schedule
Your brain stores memories during sleep. That’s why dividing your study schedule in between multiple days is more advisable than cramming the night before your midterms. This is true even if you’re studying for the same amount of time throughout multiple days. You may think that since the information is fresh in your mind, you’ll perform better on the test. But studies contradict your hypothesis.
5. Mozart And Exercise
I’ve paired these two tips, because they both lend to minor cognitive improvement. Listening to Mozart has been shown to increase cognitive performance and especially focus, and working out reduces inflammation and has been proven to lead to minor cognitive improvement. Although the improvement isn’t dramatic, both can enhance your score just that little bit. Remember that separating yourself is all about small margins. Simply put, it’s the little things that make the difference. Plus, there are a swarm of other reasons to workout and appreciate great art.
6. Stop Stressing
Don’t think of it as work. Just kick back, take your shoes off, or listen to some soft music. Before I revise this article, I’m writing it in the notes app on my phone. That way the task feels less urgent. Do whatever you can to prevent the anxiety response and induce the reward response. This is another reason to not cram the night before. Studying becomes a laborious, anxiety-ridden task rather than something done on your own terms.
7. Group Info
The brain is much more likely to retain when groups of information are divided based on commonality. Mixing up an influx of material is much harder when there seems to be no. Obviously the connections should be recognizable for when you’re recalling them during the exam. Put the effort into linking disparate strands of info, and you’ll get the rewards.
8. Got To The Library
You’ve probably heard it before, and if you’re not putting it into practice, you need to hear it again. The library is a great place to focus on your studies and drown out your phone’s loud cries for attention. Especially in this age when phones are more alluring than ever, sending endorphins throughout our bodies with every like, you need a sanctuary from your addiction. And Something about being around other people in the library dissuades you from shamefully scrolling through your phone. My addiction has become so unhealthy that the library is really my only safe haven.
9. No Excuses
Stop making excuses as to why you can’t study. Studying should be at the top of your priority list. Don’t set aside your plans to hangout with friends or have a “much deserved” night out. Gallivanting around your city with friends will feel much more rewarding when you know you’ve finished all you work.
10. Look At The Bigger Picture
Students often fall casualty to the notion that relaxing during midterms somehow equates to laziness. Remember to see the bigger picture. I’ve met plenty of people with type B personalities who are some of the most productive workers I know and a lot of people with type A personalities who are some of the laziest people I know. Stress combats productivity. In the scheme of things, what are midterms? They’re exams that amount to a small portion of a letter on a piece of paper that may or may not aid you in getting a job. Study to learn the information, but don’t let the results consume you. All in all, midterms should never encroach on your happiness. Just take a breather, and prepare beforehand. You’ll do fine.