One word: sleep. Say it with me now—sleep. S-L-E-E-P.
For me this is the first activity I cut down on when it comes to studying. Instead of the typical eight to nine hours a night, I start sleeping for four to five hours. This is a terrible idea. When you cut down the hours of sleep you should be getting, your body doesn’t feel rested.
A few weeks before exams, create a schedule. On a calendar, mark the dates for each midterm. Next, gather the materials you need to study. These are all your readings, lecture notes, and notes on the readings. You should take this time to gather external materials too—pens, pencils, paper, post-it notes, highlighters—and don’t forget to charge your laptop. Shut off social media to make it easier not to get distracted. Finally, decide when you’re going to study for each class. Now comes the fun part—a reward system.
When you finish a chapter, or when you rewrite a set of notes, have some sort of reward. This can be a break to nap, relax, listen to music, watch TV, or take a walk—anything relaxing to relieve stress and keep you motivated when you start studying again. Make sure your break isn’t more than an hour. You don’t want to get too distracted or start getting unfocused.
When you’ve created a schedule that you like, make sure you’re getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep. I know this may not seem possible, but it’s a good course of action to stay healthy. It is better to be rested and ready for the exam.
Here are a few study tips:
- Don’t multitask—it is counter-productive. Instead of focusing on one action at a time, you’re diverting your attention to multiple things, shifting your focus.
- Rewrite your notes. Write out your notes because it makes them easier to remember.
- Read the information aloud to make sure you understand it and so you can remember it later.
As you’re studying, keep track of how long it takes to do something. Can you put it off until later? Do you need more than an hour of break-time? Make your schedule however you want, but just make sure it ends with eight to 10 hours of sleep.
My midterm mantra is sleep. What’s yours?