December just smacked us all in the face, wielding myriad worlds of information which we haven’t yet familiarized ourselves with, the information we’re supposed to have been scrutinizing for the better part of three months. But hey, it’s not like there’s anybody out there who doesn’t procrastinate! And yes, I’m not a touchstone for great, efficient studying, but at least I put off enough of my own work in order to research how to maximize study time. Ironic, right? ADHD is a horrible thing. Anyway, here’s what I learned—by not studying—on how to study.
1. Don’t load up on more caffeine than usual. Studies show that your body naturally produces extra adrenaline during exam week, plus extra caffeine actually inhibits your learning process because it tends to make you extra jittery and energetic.
2. 50/10. Study for 50 minutes and take a 10-minute break, for every hour you study. It’s good to take breaks not only because they’re fun, distracting, and the like but also because they help facilitate better learning. Psychological research shows that when you have breaks in your studying you’ll remember what you started and ended with before and after each break, whereas in 6-hour blocks of raw studying time all of the info kind of waxes into a big pile of mush. Jam out to your favorite T-Swift or Kanye, relax, close your eyes for a little, play a game on your phone- whatever, just clear your mind, then get back to occupying it. Use an alarm on your phone if possible.
3. Set certain times to check your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Insta, group texts, whatever. Because going cold turkey on these things for an entire week is pretty unrealistic and can thus lead us to, once we give up, checking our pages just as frequently as we usually do, if not more. Airplane mode is a good setting to keep the distractions away.
4. Accept that finals week is not the time for you to be a perfectionist. No, you can’t plan out your schedule saying that you’ll study from 10 am to 11 pm tomorrow. That’s just not going to happen. Know yourself and have your week planned out; this will keep you efficient and not rushed. With that being said, don’t cram all of your studying in the day before. Furthermore, when you hit 1 am or whatever, don’t tell yourself to go asleep and wake up in the morning and finish your studying then, because we all know that hardly ever works.
5. Don’t complain about how many hours of Netflix you watched last night.
- Nobody cares.
- I’m not saying Netflix is bad. If you just studied for six hours and need a break: by all means, turn the Flix on or crank out a few episodes of Game of Thrones with your friend’s HBO account info, but don’t drown yourself in this stuff.
- Self-loathing during finals week is nothing more than a mere distraction; go get some work done.
6. Music. Some people study better with it, others worse. Find out its effect on you. What I’ve found is that the best way to study is with loud, instrumental, ambient music (usually, but not always, without words/singing) because it puts my brain into a funk and tunes out all the people and other distractions around me. Also, I’ve found that listening to albums is better than listening to songs because albums usually have a vibe that persists throughout the album, one that you can get used to and into, whereas with songs you come in and out of choppier three-minute stuff. I’ll attach my Spotify study playlist below, but I advise you to listen to it in order rather than on shuffle.
7. If possible, don’t study in your room or any other place with potentially distracting items. It’s just too tempting and distracting. ‘Nuff said.
8. Write, don’t type. Overwhelming evidence suggests that writing notes down, as opposed to typing them, helps you retain much more information.
9. Study in groups but only if it benefits you. If you, like I, are really ADHD and can’t study, get a group going and try to learn with your folks. If groups are distracting and make it harder for you, then don’t be reluctant to say no and ride solo.
10. Don’t forget that your body is just as important as your brain. Exercising and eating well will not only help your stress levels, but also keep your emotions stable. Exercise specifically will also keep your blood pressure low while also give your body energy, while eating well will give your brain energy and satisfy your hunger. Sleeping obviously is important too, but either you listen to that advice or you don’t, so I won’t get into it. Anyway, remember this: the level at which you focus and concentrate is just as important as the quantity of time in which you study.
I was going to edit this and make it look all pretty and what not, but in the spirit of this article I’m just going to turn my laptop off and get to my studying. Comment if you have any tips and good luck on finals, everybody!