Test prep: Make the most out of your study time by following these study tips

Monroe Community College Students Studying. (Courtesy of David Maiolo)

Monroe Community College Students Studying. (Courtesy of David Maiolo)

Whether you’re a first-year college student or a seasoned veteran of finals, you know that studying is a major part of being in college. If you learn to master your study techniques, you won’t have test anxiety when exams come around.

Grab your course syllabus, Smartphone, your tennis shoes and a snack, and follow these study tips to prepare yourself to ace that big exam!

Be proactive about studying — it’ll save you a lot of stress

Look at the course syllabus; chances are the dates of the exams are listed. Take a moment to write those dates in your planner. Now, leave yourself a reminder about a week and a half before the exams to get an early start by looking over your notes and quizzes. Being proactive about studying automatically cuts the stress level in half for me. I like to be aware of when my exams are in case one happens to fall during a particularly busy week. I make sure I won’t have to cram last minute because of my other obligations. What you don’t want to do is study a week in advance and then not look at your notes again until the morning of; review them for 15 or 20 minutes every day just to refresh your memory. This way, you’ll be confident you know your stuff when the exam day finally gets here.

Make your notes portable 

If you’re always on the go and can’t carry around your binders and books to study when you’re away from your desk, rewrite them on small index cards and attach them to a ring to bring with you. That way, when you’re waiting in a traffic jam, or are riding shotgun to dinner with friends, you can check out your notes.

Giana Walton suggests downloading new study applications for your iPhone in her April 29, 2011 article for BostInno.com, “Best iPhone Study Apps.” FlashCards Plus Pro is a free app that gives users “the choice of creating their own original flashcards or importing pre-made cards from Quizlet.com,” says Walton.

AccessMyLibrary is a free app that is part of Cengage Learning and “gives users access to Gale databases and ebooks by choosing their university from Cengage’s list of participating schools.” There are three AccessMyLibrary apps and all are available for both Android and iPhone systems. In order to access your school’s library you’ll need to have a system password, which will be e-mailed to you once you provide your school email address; I received my password less than a minute after requesting one. They must seriously want me to start studying ASAP!

Don’t forget to align your mind and your body 

Studying is more than sitting down at your desk and reviewing your notes. In order to have a successful study session, you must have the right mindset as well as have a prepared body. In order to do this I like to perform a few Brain Gym exercises before getting started. Brain Gym exercises are a set of 26 movements that work together to coordinate your eyes, ears, hands and whole body for learning.

According to the developers of Brain Gym, these 26 exercises only take about 5 minutes to perform and can help improve:

  • Concentration and focus
  • Memory
  • Academics: reading, writing, math, test taking
  • Physical coordination

Strap your tennis shoes on and perform a few of these exercises by watching this YouTube video, “Brain Gym” posted on January 3, 2009, before you sit down to study.

Other study tips to try 

When studying it’s important that you realize what type of environment is best for your learning. Do you like a quiet place to help focus your attention or do you work best with some background noise or music? If you’re not able to concentrate while studying with friends, don’t. Don’t waste your time by meeting for group study if it’s not productive to you. Other things to keep in mind:

  • Get your supplies ready before you begin studying — this will help you maximize your study time.
  • Light a relaxing candle if possible; I do this every time I sit down at my desk and it really helps me stay focused.

Have a small snack and something to drink handy — this way you won’t have to leave your desk that often.

What environments do you tend to study best in?  Please share why this works well for you in the comments below!

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