With the start of a new semester upon us, I thought I’d look at the best ways to help you avoid those panic-stricken, hectic final days before exams where you have not studied enough throughout the year. God knows we’re all guilty of it sometimes. Some of these tips are quite basic while others are more outside-the-box so they need more explanation. These are all backed up by scientific studies. By applying them, however, you’re sure to notice an improvement in your own studies.
- Video game music. For those looking for a new study soundtrack, I cannot recommend this highly enough as I use it myself all the time. Apparently, the reasoning behind its suitability for studying is that these soundtracks are designed to keep the user alert while not distracting them from the task at hand. There are some great playlists on YouTube. Word of warning though, you may occasionally be overcome with feelings of nostalgia when certain classic themes jog your memory. Looking at you ‘Hogs of War’.
- Have an exercise-themed break. Speaking of jog! Why not try to incorporate an exercise based break? A trip to the gym, pool or even partaking in one of the numerous sports clubs out there can have some fantastic benefits for studying. It is well known that exercise improves your attention span and your ability to juggle different academic subjects.
- Write rather than type. A study called ‘Digitizing Literacy’ confirms that we retain more knowledge by writing notes out by hand compared to typing them up. While many people do understandably prefer the speed of taking notes down on a laptop during a lecture, maybe try transcribing them into your copy while in the less stressful environment of the library. If nothing else, it can also add a bit of variety to your study routine.
- Try a different spot. Again, this may not be for everyone as I know from experience that some of my own friends get oddly irritated when someone has the audacity to take ‘their’ seat. There is an upside though as ‘Synaptic evidence for the efficacy of spaced learning’ ( thankfully I managed to find a SparkNotes-type summary) states that learning similar material in a different location everyday actually helps our memory. This is because we force our brains to form new associations with the same material, thereby making it a stronger memory.
- Apps that block certain websites. That’s right. Technology can actually help you stay focused nowadays instead of being a black hole of procrastination where you waste away countless hours on Reddit or streaming your favourite shows. Apps like ‘SelfControl’ allow you to block certain websites that you feel are distracting for a set period of time. Another one worth getting is ‘iStudiez Pro’, which works for Mac, iPhone and iPad, it enables you to keep track of your timetable and semester deadlines as well as personal engagements.
- Greater life perspective. Lastly, and I know this may be considered more of an overly sentimental and waffle-based point by some, but do try and remember that the vast majority of things we stress over on a daily basis really are not that important in the grand scheme of things. There are aspects of ourselves that we neglect to take care of, instead choosing to focus on superficial things like how we are perceived by our peers. These include mental health and how to cope with stress, which is a key point I’d like to end on as it is crucial that we keep our studies in perspective. We all get stressed out sometimes but for as important as doing well in college exams and assignments is, there are far more important things in life.