It’s that time again. I know a lot of people have had midterms already, but for those who haven’t, I have some tips I’ve provided my residents with as well. They are what helps me with studying the most. Hopefully you’ll try at least one of them out- I guarantee it’ll help you get higher scores!
1. Get plenty of sleep! Studies show that it is more effective to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before a test than it is to stay up late or even all night to cram. If it isn’t possible for you to get a good night’s sleep, try to fit in a nap somewhere so you can get a boost of energy!
2. Manage your time. If you’re able to find time to prepare for your exams ahead of time, you won’t feel the need to stay up late the night before and study. Time management and avoiding procrastination is done in a unique way by everyone, but I highly recommend keeping a calendar in your room as well as a planner that you carry around with you. Some are even broken down into hourly time slots, which is extremely beneficial for those who need a highly disciplined schedule, whether due to procrastination or an insanely busy schedule. By writing down all things that need to be accomplished in a day or in a set amount of time, you are holding yourself accountable and are more likely to complete the tasks. Additionally, you will feel less anxiety about trying to remember what you need to do.
3. Alternate study areas and find places that are conducive study atmospheres. It’s great when you find somewhere that you are able to study and focus really well. Even better is when you find multiple places where you can study. By studying in different places, you will be less likely to become quickly bored or distracted, and since memory is colored by location, you will be able to recall what you studied more quickly when you can also recall where you studied. Try to study one subject per location so that you are able to associate that space with studying that topic. Generally speaking, make sure that the spaces you are choosing to study in are effective. Look for some place that is quiet and free of distractions. Make sure to silence or turn off that phone, too. Every time you are distracted from your work, it takes even longer to get back on track again.
4. Study in groups/with someone. Nothing like accountability to make you do your work (since self-control isn’t always there…) By studying with someone, you are able to keep one another on track. Also, the most effective way to learn something is by teaching it to someone else. Make sure you aren’t studying with people who are slacking or not interested in studying; this will only slow you down. It’s a great idea to assign topics that will be on the exam to each person in the study group and later reconvene and teach one another the topic.
5. Take breaks. I know this is the most obvious of all tips, but I have always struggled with this. Breaks can turn into hours of pointless Facebook use, television watching, or just plain laying around. It has been proven that you can only fully concentrate for 45 minutes at a time, and for me, that is already too long. I like to work hard for about a half of an hour and then take a 5-10 minute break. The break does not involve the computer or tv; instead, try working out for those 5-10 minutes. Take a walk around the building. Do push ups. This is a great way to stay awake, energized, and will actually make you want to get back to studying when it’s all said and done.
6. Avoid music. So many people always say music or background noise helps them study. More often than not, I have seen this go awry, and quickly. Instead of pulling up Pandora or putting on MTV, try going over your notes or reading the chapter aloud to yourself. This may be more effective to you. If you absolutely need music, avoid anything with lyrics. This can be distracting and difficult for your brain to ignore.
7. Go to class. This is my biggest and most important tip. There’s no point to pay for school if you aren’t going to go to class, and there really is no point in taking the exam if you haven’t been showing up to class. Going to class is like a review session every time. It kick starts your studying since the teacher is talking about topics that will be on the test. It also gives you a chance to talk with other people who will be taking the same exams, and you can form study groups with them.
Good luck to all those during the midterms mayhem. Keep my tips in mind! Study hard.