Are you a college (or high school) student coming out of midterms with less than stellar results? The final push of the semester doesn’t have to be about cramming. In fact, researchers say those long, suffering hours are not the way to go if you want to end a semester strong. For better results, try some of my favorite strategies based on science instead:
Are you struggling with time management, shifting from one task to another, or procrastination? Longer doesn’t mean better. Break study time into 20-40 minute increments with 5-10 minute breaks between each study session. Breaking down the course information and study time into smaller pieces helps the brain digest new information and can help you approach studying with less dread and anxiety.
Speaking of breaks, using a little down time to exercise is an excellent strategy to improve attention, processing speed, and memory (it all has to do with blood chemistry and circulation aiding cognition). A daily 20 minute run/walk can help boost academic performance and improve relaxation – a plus for anyone anxious about taking exams.
Throw in some tunes.
Music has long been advocated as a great way to boost everything from concentration and memory to productivity, while also increasing relaxation levels and enhancing mood. The trick is to listen to tracks paced at 60 bpm (think Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or check out Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports”). Tracks at this tempo activate both hemispheres of the brain helping information process more efficiently.
Change study locations and study in groups.
Forget a favorite study spot. Studying smarter requires alternating study locations to boost recall. Adding others to the mix furthers the effect – what better way to actively study than by discussing course content, problems, and solutions? Word of caution: Simply listening for the correct answers is passive, so prepare to perform as a team player in study group sessions.
Set the alarm and sleep.
Sleep is critical for memory and focus, so apply the “work by day and sleep by night” principle for optimal studying and testing. Cramming at the expense of decent sleep does not guarantee better results and can actually derail an academic performance. Especially during finals, be sure to dedicate regular time for chunked daytime study sessions and strive to keep a sleep schedule. Eliminating caffeine at least 3-5 hours before bedtime will help.
If you find this info helpful, please share it with your favorite college (or high school) student!
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Hoping to find the best tips to master the first year? Check out a professor's take on the best strategies for college success. #17 is my personal favorite.
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