I think it’s pretty safe to assume that many of my readers have either already taken their final exams or will do so very soon. My exams are next week and the anxiety is already starting to kick in. Obviously finals have the potential to be super stressful, but they don’t have to be! Today I’m sharing my tips for studying, avoiding procrastination, essay writing, relaxing, and test taking and at this stressful time of the year! Let’s get started!
Tip #1: Study in a clean, quiet environment.
This might seems super obvious, but you’d be surprised how many of my friends struggle to get work done or study successfully because they refuse to do homework anywhere beside their kitchen. I typically choose to do my studying alone in my room, often on my bed, with a candle lit. I keep my phone downstairs while studying or doing homework because it’s so easy to take a “quick break” that ends up being an hour of Instagram stalking. If music helps you focus, try to play it off of your computer or tablet, something you’re less likely to gravitate towards and become distracted by.
Tip #2: Give yourself a break every once in a while.
Every hour or two, take a break from studying and reward yourself with a healthy snack or allowing yourself to make a short call to a friend, take a shower, stretch, clean up your room, or color in an adult coloring book. Playing music during your little study break and getting up to dance has also been proven to be reenergizing and therefore make your studying more effective.
Tip #3: Don’t push off studying until the last minute.
Yes, I’ll admit I’m a chronic crammer, but pushing off studying for an exam or end of course test will only hurt you. If the idea of studying for the big test seems overwhelming, that should be a sign that you’ll need ample time to cover everything thoroughly. Start studying up to a week ahead of time and cover little sections every night, making flashcards of ideas that you think are the most important from each unit.
Tip #4: Eat healthy, stay hydrated, and don’t skip meals during exam week.
How much does eating healthy really help your brain? I’m honestly not so sure, but it certainly can’t be bad for you. You always hear “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and that phrase shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’ve been told to have a better than usual breakfast the morning of test day since end of grade tests in third grade, and there’s obviously a good reason for that. Eating properly will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay focused. Remember to stay hydrated by drinking tons of water starting as much as a week in advance. Staying hydrated helps your overall health, makes you more awake, and will keep you from being distracted by your thirst during the actual test!
Tip #5: Be a smart essay writer.
When writing essays for your final exam or important end of term papers it’s important to note that there are tons of hacks that can make your typed essays appear longer. When typing an essay, always make sure to double space your paper when the teacher allows you to. Double spacing significantly increases the length of a paper, helping you reach those long length requirements. You can also increase the length of your essays by a couple lines by increasing the size of your periods by one or two points (I have never done this but a lot of my friends do). Another easy length-adder is using two spaces between a period and the start of each sentence. I was actually taught in a digital literacy (keyboarding) class to have two spaces between sentences, but I’ve found that many of my peers didn’t know that was actually an academically acceptable thing to do. You might not have even noticed that I’ve done that in every single blog post. The combination of these last two tricks can increase your paper length by as much as a paragraph.
Tip #6: Use summer’s coming as an inspiration, but don’t let it distract you.
Often I find myself telling myself something along the lines of “you can do it, just one more week then you’ll be on summer vacation.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but when I turn that into Instagram stalking locations I’m planning on visiting and searching for caption ideas for twenty minutes that just aids my procrastination. If you find yourself getting side tracked, remind yourself to stay focused. If you’re still having a hard time, maybe take a super short break to light a candle or hang some clean clothes laying around your room. This problem might be specific to me, I really don’t know haha.
Tip #7: Make sure all your study dates are actually effective.
Like most teenagers, I love any excuse to hang out with my friends, study dates included. However, if you decide to study with friends make sure you’re being productive. Study somewhere you’re sure to stay focused and do not let yourself get side tracked with gossip or other typical friend talk. Stop yourself from saying anything not related to your study topic and politely remind your friends to stay focused if they start to talk about something else. Make your conversation dedicated to questions and answers and put your phones away!
Tip #8: Don’t go to bed later than midnight. Just don’t.
I’m definitely a late night cramming type of gal, but this strategy is usually not very effective and should not be used during the wee hours of exam week nights. Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it! If you go to bed at 9:00 p.m. every night you should go to bed even earlier, you don’t want to show up to exams any more exhausted than you’ll already be just from taking them! Let’s be real, no one performs well on anything when they’re barely keeping their eyes open.
Tip #9: Utilize your study tools.
If you know what works for you, stick to it, but don’t neglect study tools provided by your teachers or recommended by friends! I personally adore Quizlet, an online flashcard program that you can use from your computer, iPhone, or tablet! I especially love using Quizlet to memorize vocabulary terms, foreign language translations (because I couldn’t imagine taking Spanish without it), and formulas for math and science. Aside from Quizlet, old school flashcards and handwritten study guides are also great study tools!
Tip #10: Relax.
Of course, exams are important, but don’t stress too much over them. Allot yourself some time each night to relax. For you this could be taking a bubble bath, watching a few episodes of your favorite Netflix series, going on a run, or even hanging out with your family. If you’re actually studying and putting your best into all of your exams you should be fine, don’t let this one week of tests make you too anxious!
Thanks for reading! Best of luck on your exams!