How to best study for exams


Photo credit/ Sabrina Resuta

With midterms coming up, Opinion Editor Maddie Adams gives advice on how to prepare.

Midterm season is quickly approaching. If your exams caught you off guard this semester, here are some tips to help you have the most productive study session possible.

Go to review sessions
Most professors will hold review sessions before the exam. These sessions are a great opportunity to get a better understanding of what material will be on the exam and potentially ask any questions you might have. While it may seem tempting to skip a review session and study on your own, reviewing with your professor and fellow students can be very helpful and might even answer questions you didn’t even know you had!

Go to office hours
If you still have questions after a review session, attending your professor’s office hours is another great opportunity to get some clarification. It can also be beneficial to have some one-on-one time with your professor if you feel like you still need a bit of extra help. To make the most of your time, come prepared with any questions you may have and be sure to take notes during the session so you don’t forget anything. Your professor should have their office hours posted on your class page or on the syllabus, but if you’re unsure when office hours take place or if you are unable to make it to the scheduled office hours, reach out to your professor and you might be able to work something out. At the very least, you can always email any questions you might have to your professor and hopefully get the response you need.

Use study materials
There are so many amazing study materials out there to help you with your exams. Websites like Quizlet allow you to upload the information you need to study and then review it in a number of different ways. Some of my favorite ways to study on Quizlet are to use the online flashcards, or play the review games. On Quizlet, you can also browse study sets that other students have already created by searching for the topic you wish to study.

If online studying is not your thing, you can always study the old-fashioned way. Flashcards are a wonderful way to memorize material and you can even use them with your friends. It could also be helpful to make a study guide or utilize a study guide provided by your professor.

Study in a group
Everything is better with a study buddy! Sometimes talking through the material with your classmates is helpful in retaining information. If you really want to have fun with it, organize a review Kahoot game with your friends. Study games are a fun way to better familiarize yourself with course material and sometimes they’re so fun, you forget you’re even studying!

Be intentional about studying
The weeks leading up to midterms are incredibly busy, which is why it’s super important to be intentional about when and how you study. Get out your planner and find time to dedicate just to studying. Study for exams in order of when your tests are scheduled for, so for example, if you have tests on Monday and Wednesday, study for your exam on Monday first, then your exam on Wednesday. If you like to use flashcards, pace it out so that you’re making your flashcards one day and then study with them on another day. If you start planning a week or two before your exam, you’ll have plenty of time to space out your study sessions to avoid long cramming sessions.

Take breaks and indulge in rewards
Every now and then long study sessions are inevitable. Remember to take breaks to stretch, get some food, hydrate, and let your brain relax for a minute. According to the College of New Caledonia, a study method called the “Pomodoro Technique” can help you be more productive while including breaks to avoid exhaustion or burnout. The Pomodoro Technique suggests studying in brief increments followed by short breaks. Study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break. After repeating this technique four times, take a longer 20-30 minute break. The timer app on your phone can be super helpful, or you can use websites specifically designed for this process, such as Pomofocus.

Load up on self-care
During an exam session, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your studies that you forget to take care of yourself, which in turn can make you feel more stressed. It’s important to remember to stay on top of your regular self-care/hygiene practices, while maybe even adding some extra self-care in there too! Be sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and still making time to do things you enjoy.

Exams can be stressful, but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that grades do not define you. Prepare as much as you can, try your best, and remember that it’s just a test.
You’ve got this!

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