As exam season approaches, those lazy summer days spent at the cottage or at the beach with friends seem like nothing more than a distant memory. Suddenly, you’re back in the library with a stack of textbooks, a pile of notes and a growing sense of panic as you try to imagine how you can possibly retain so much information. You’re not alone. Students all across the country are gearing up for exams, and by learning just a few simple study hacks, you can come out of these next few weeks alive.
1. Face the music
Recent university research in France suggests listening to classical music can be one key to effective studying. The study shows that music put students in a heightened emotional state, which made them more receptive to information. You can find a huge selection of study playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and 8tracks that include classical, instrumental, deep house and electronic music to help with focus and concentration. Try browsing some of these options to find what works best for you.
2. Download apps that help concentration
Although social media has its perks, having your phone constantly beeping and buzzing by your side can be extremely distracting. Luckily, concentration apps like Forest can help you combat your phone addiction. The app allows you to plant a seed in a virtual forest, and if you can resist the urge to check your phone every few minutes, the seed will grow into a tree. Forest gives users a sense of accomplishment and responsibility, which allows them to stay focused and check more things off that to-do list. Check the App store or Google Play for other related apps to help you with focus and concentration, study guides and more.
3. Feed your mind
Now maybe you’re already a pro at dodging distractions, but many students find it hard to resist snacking on chips, candy and other junk food while on the study grind. However, all those empty calories are actually putting you at a disadvantage when it comes to retaining important information. Iron and B-vitamins will help your body maintain the physical and mental energy needed to study effectively. Iron-rich foods include spinach, meat and cereals, while B-vitamins can be found in whole grains, eggs and nuts. Finally, another thing you might want to reconsider is that Venti Caramel Mocha from Starbucks with the extra espresso shot. Too much caffeine will make you jittery and all that sugar will only cause your energy levels to crash later on.
4. Take it easy!
One of the most important things to remember when you’re drowning in lecture notes is to take frequent breaks to allow your brain to process everything. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that helps users achieve maximum focus with less mental fatigue. The process is simple: organize your time into 25-minute increments (or “pomodoros”) with a five-minute break in between. After you have completed four pomodoros (or 100 minutes of working time) you take a 15-20 minute break. The idea behind this philosophy is that frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused.
Here are a few more tips to help you achieve the best grade possible:
Sleep – Try to get around eight hours of sleep a night to keep your mind sharp.
Take practice tests to affirm and enhance your knowledge.
Go to class – this may seem obvious, but you’ll thank yourself later for attending all those 8:30am lectures.
Don’t cram – psychologists suggest spacing your studying over a longer period of time to better retain information.
Work together – working with peers reduces your workload and allows you to tackle difficult material as a team.
For more student life hacks and resources, check out our online student hub.
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