By Christine Sosa
As finals quickly approach us, our stress levels may reach an all-time high. I, for one, am stressing way too much about my finals, mainly because of the fact that it is my last quarter as an undergraduate student.
I have learned that there are two types of students: the good students who have probably never had to pull an “all-nighter,” and the procrastinators who can only work with that pressure to get their work done right before the deadline.
Can you guess which student I am? If you answered the good student, then I thank you for thinking highly of me. Unfortunately, I am the procrastinator, but I bear great news for those, like me, that have functioned on 2 hours of sleep in a 24- hour time period.
There are a few study tips that have helped me develop into a semi-good student, and I say “semi-good” because there are still those times that I stay up until 3 a.m. completing an assignment. Oops.
Here are 3 study tips that I find most effective.
Tip #1: Take great notes and pay attention in class.
I’ll admit that I am guilty of checking my social media sites in class, where the professor does not care if you use your phone, but you should definitely focus on what is going on during lecture, and take notes in an organized and efficient manner. Having notes readily available in a notebook or electronic device will help you in the long run for assignments or tests that you may have in the future. Write statements or ideas that your professor discusses that you find important. Color-coding your notes has been known as an effective way of note taking since studying them helps your brain remember what you read more easily. Try things out, and see what note-taking method is most effective for you.
Tip #2: Keep up with your reading.
This may not apply to every student out there, but I know for the most part, you will take at least one class where reading books, articles, journals, etc. are required for the course. Make sure you look ahead of your syllabus to see what is coming up next, so you know how much time you have for each reading. Once you fall behind, it is very difficult to catch up, especially since that is not the only class you have work for. Try spending an hour a day to focus on just reading. Not only will you get work done, but you will also enrich your mind with new knowledge that only books can provide you (I may be biased since I am an English major, but reading is amazing!).
Tip #3: Be an active learner.
This goes hand-in-hand with tip #1. Try to stay away from your phone, laptop, or tablet as much as possible to avoid distractions. There are apps that you can download, where you can pick which applications you want to be locked out of for a certain amount of time, which is very helpful during exam weeks. Do not simply try to memorize your notes before an exam or assignment. Try and learn the ideas or themes that you find. Highlight or underline your notes/book, so that those statements can stand out. Also, do not to “cram” all these ideas before an exam. Most of the time, that last-minute studying does not help. Study your notes after class since the ideas you have just learned are fresh in your mind. Reiterate the main points in your head, so that you understand them.
With that said, all this studying and preparing may bring a bit of stress, so here are 3 ways to help relieve stress.
Tip #1: Breathe!
It may sound very simple, but it has been scientifically proven to relieve stress. During your study time, take a breather. Try breathing in through your nose for four seconds, and out through your mouth for eight seconds. Don’t rush it, and just take long and steady breathes. Also, try closing your eyes. It blocks everything out, so you can just focus on your breathing.
Tip #2: Take a nap.
Now, this sounds like the exact opposite of what you want to do during exams, but napping has shown to reduce cortisol levels, which is what you want to relieve any stress you may have. You should also try to avoid napping for too long because a wrong nap can cause you to wake up sluggish, and feeling worse. Power naps or 30-minute naps are found to be the most effective when trying to feel energized and “awake.”
Tip #3: Have a dance party!
You don’t need 50 people surrounding you to have a dance party, so when you are feeling a little too stressed, stop studying for a bit, and turn on your favorite music. Dance around your room however you please! Exercising can also fit into this category, if you are not up for dancing. Being active in some way helps keep your mind off of the stress you were feeling and replace it with “feel-good chemicals.”
These tips have definitely helped me through my college career, and I hope they help get you on that study grind. Don’t forget to relax, and not let your stress levels get out of control.
You only have one mind and one body, and you must take care of both as much as you can.4