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Stephanie is a contributing writer to “The Hudsucker.” By day, she is a teaching assistant at Kumon, attempting to convince young children that 36 is indeed less than 37, but by night, she turns into an intrepid Instagram food photographer.

How to Study: A Guide to Acing Your Exams

Image Source: HerCampus.com

Exam season is right around the corner, and if you’re like me, you are definitely not looking forward to cracking open those textbooks and burning the midnight oil. But before you start downing Red Bull and cramming months of material into one night, you might want to consider following some of these tips:

  • Don’t actually burn the midnight oil – That was just a saying before. If you really want to perform at an optimal level come exam time, a good night’s sleep before can do wonders. Not only will you feel more awake and focused, but the areas in your brain responsible for learning and memory will function much better with sufficient sleep. I can tell what you’re thinking though – “Duh, I’d love to get more sleep, but how would I get everything done?”
  • Well, don’t leave everything to the last minute – This one probably seems brutally obvious. But more often than not, even if we know we should probably get a head start on our studying, we are all creatures of procrastination at heart. If your busy exam schedule allows for it, start studying a few days in advance. Which brings me to…
  • Set a strict schedule – Depending on how many days you set aside to study for an exam, it really helps to evenly divide the testable material so that you have a manageable workload each day. In addition to spreading out the material evenly, it gives you a concrete goal to work towards each day. (And if you finish the day’s material early, you have free time to spend without any guilt whatsoever!)
  • Keep your laptop out of sight – First, this tip might not work for everyone – maybe you study best when you’re working on your computer or the class material is only available online! But for me, I know that the call of Facebook and Tumblr are all too alluring, so instead, I print out all my notes beforehand and stow my laptop safely away from temptation. But for those of you who need to use your computer and desperately need help staying away from social networks, apps like SelfControl (only for Mac OSX) and SelfRestraint (the equivalent for Windows and Linux) are your new best friends. Just feed them a list of the distracting websites and a time frame you need them blocked for, and voila! You won’t be able to access them until after your allotted studying time — not even if you uninstall the program in a moment of weakness.
  • Personalize your studying tactics – There is a term in psychology called “transfer-appropriate processing,” which refers to the fact that memory performance often depends on whether the method in which you encode the information is similar to the method in which the information is retrieved. While it may just sound like I’m spouting off random stuff in preparation for my psychology exam, this theory is actually super helpful for studying for any exam. If you know the format that the exam questions will take, it will definitely help to create similarly formatted questions to test yourself with beforehand. So if the exam consists of multiple-choice questions, create some multiple-choice questions of your own to test yourself, or get a friend to switch mock test questions with (so you won’t already know all the answers)! This can even work with essay-type exams – create essay questions for yourself and answer them to the best of your ability.

Anyways, those are my two cents on surviving the exam season. Hopefully my tips will serve you well and you’ll all live to see the beautiful days of summer!

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2 Comments on “How to Study: A Guide to Acing Your Exams”

  1. Andrew Rogers April 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Great article Stephanie. I love the suggestion about the SelfControl program! Might have to download it!
    Also, another tip for the first part of your article, I find if I set an alarm for 8AM, I’m far more productive early in the morning. When I sleep in until 10 or 11AM, I get distracted more easily.
    Also a good tip is to set blocks of time to study. For example, commit to studying for an hour, put everything aside until then, and then at the end, check your phone or email. You feel less guilty for doing it and you’ll be amazed what you can do in an hour without any distractions!

  2. Boy April 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Nice post.

    I really need to put my laptop aside if I want to study, thank your for this advice.

    My tip is that you need to take a break from time to time, since no one will know every thing on one go.

    And of course that you should read every day for at least one hour. Also very powerful.

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