1. Feed Your Mind
Pepsi and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (while delicious) won’t give you the brain power you need to conquer finals. Although convenient, the calories in those processed carbs will ultimately leave you exhausted and sluggish. Instead, eat foods that are digested slowly, like whole grains, fresh fruits, veggies and proteins – especially right before an exam. (Think: nuts and seeds, yogurt, eggs, avocados, blueberries, beans, etc.)
2. Cardio, It’s Good for the Soul
Research has shown that just 20 minutes of cardio may improve memory and concentration. Dancing in place, going for a run or walk or hopping on the elliptical are all great ways to get that cardio fix. And JJC has a great fitness center so you can squeeze in a quick cardio-sesh without ever leaving campus.
3. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Start by studying the material you already know, then add more challenging or recent information. This helps you associate new information with familiar information. The approach is not only less daunting, but it will ease you into a comprehensive review and ensure you have a good understanding of the basics.
4. Treat Yo Self… with Breaks
Studying can be tedious, so reward yourself for the work you’re doing. Set mini-goals to break up your study session. For example, “After I [finish reading this chapter], I’ll [get my Insta on for 5 minutes]. Looking forward to a reward is a great motivator, and it's been proven that regular breaks can boost productivity and improve your ability to focus.
5. Study for the Style of Exam
Multiple choice: know definitions and concepts. Essay exams: focus on your understanding of the concepts and be able to give examples.
6. Go to Sleep
Most of us have pulled an all-nighter to prepare for a test, but did you know those cram sessions can actually do more harm than good? Fatigued brains do not retain information, and you may have a more difficult time recalling information you’ve already learned. Instead, don’t leave your studying till the last minute, and shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep a night in the weeks leading up to finals.
7. Predict and Review
No two people learn or study exactly alike – so find out what works for you! Quiz yourself by covering up your notes and trying to explain them. Create flashcards or find a flashcard app. Create mnemonic devices, rhymes or acronyms. Fill out and review your study guides, or try to guess the questions that will pop up on your finals. (HINT: For finals, instructors usually re-use questions from the tests you’ve already taken)
8. Engage Your Senses
Ever wonder why certain colors remind you of your favorite childhood toys, or why ‘that song’ reminds you of your ex? It’s because engaging your senses helps produce stronger memories. Apply the same concept to your studying. Touch the pages of your book, read your notes out-loud, write your notes in different colors, or pop a piece of peppermint gum in your mouth. The more senses you engage, the more likely the information will stick with you.
9. Time Management
This semester, minimize your stress by creating a finals study plan or schedule. By splitting your studying into manageable chunks, you’ll better retain the information and keep track of what you’ve accomplished (instead of looking at the big picture and getting overwhelmed.)