Tag Archives | studying

Test Preparedness: 4 Things You Should Do Before Every Major College Exam

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Exams can be major sources of stress for even the best and brightest college student. Nailing an exam isn’t about being the smartest geek in class. No matter what level your natural intelligence, good preparation is usually the deciding factor in your grade. There are many things you can do ahead of time to give yourself an edge.

Give Yourself the Study Time

Time management and keeping a planned study schedule are some of the best things you can do to ease the stress of studying and increase retention. This means studying in relatively short intervals and making plenty of opportunities to study ahead. Studying in 20-30 minute sessions with short breaks in between is more beneficial than a single long cramming session. Your brain needs time to organize and connect with the information, and this is best done through short periods of intense focus followed by rest.

Avoiding long cramming sessions right before the test is an important part of this, too. The infamous all-night cram session before finals is notorious among college students. It is also one of the worst possible things you could do. It is better to space out your studying in short intervals as far in advance as possible, studying a little bit each day. You could do a few short sessions the night before the exam, but you shouldn’t have to. There are more important things to do the night before.

Don’t Forget Eating and Sleeping

Sometimes the difference in your grade comes down to things you may not even think are important, like eating and sleeping. In fact, these basic factors can have a tremendous effect on your ability to focus and remember during the test and during your study sessions.

Low carb diets may be the fad, but they aren’t good news for your study habits or academic success. One study of college students showed that a week of a diet high in protein and fat and low in carbs had decreased testing performance, compared to those who ate a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Small amounts of carbs taken at the right time may actually improve your mental performance. This is because the brain consumes a great deal of energy. This isn’t an excuse to gorge on donuts and soda, but a granola bar or similar snack can go a long way. Make sure to eat something the morning of the test and keep a healthy diet for the entire week before.

Proper sleep is also important. Your grade will benefit more from a full eight hours of sleep than from an all-nighter. Getting the proper amount of REM sleep has been linked to better memory and retention. Skipping this important step may put all your other hard studying work to waste.

Exercise the Body for the Mind

There is a strong link between physical exercise, mental health and cognitive ability. When you work out, you aren’t just improving your physical health. You are doing many things to improve your mental health as well.

Exercise improves oxygenation in the blood and circulation. This means more nutrients and oxygen are flowing to your brain and more waste material is being removed. These are excellent for cognitive function because your working brain consumes a great deal of oxygen. Exercise is also more likely to help you feel better and improve your mood and alertness.

A proper exercise routine is important, and this includes recovery after your workout, like a post-workout recovery drink. As ASEA demonstrates in their YouTube video, such drinks can benefit you by providing your body with a boost of needed nutrients and vital compounds.

Alternate Your Study Spots

One interesting way to improve your studying and boost retention is to find novel places to conduct said business. Instead of spending every afternoon for a week at the same table in the library, visit a coffee shop or park where you’ve never studied before. Research has shown a link between studying in new places or varying places and the level of retention. It’s a little mental trick you play on your brain that increases its attention to details. Sometimes small things really can give you that extra boost.

Preparation is the key to performance on any major college exam. Before your next big test, put in the time and effort to excel and skip the infamous habits that will only hurt your success.

This article was contributed by Hannah Whittenly.

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Don’t Attempt to Cram all Your Studying into One Session

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The most stressful time for any student is, of course, the exam period. Simply trying to pass an exam or score a good grade, while struggling to get all your other activities completed is extremely frustrating. The fact that there never seems to be enough time for everything just makes things more difficult.

Students usually tend to make their situation more complicated than it actually has to be. Face it, you’re usually procrastinating and getting distracted by the quite interesting – to put it mildly – student life, until the very last day. After that, it’s panic and hysteria to try and get everything done on time. There are ways to make the best of your studying attempts and pass your exams, while maintaining your sanity and low stress levels. Here are a few tips on how to study smart, not just hard.

Plan ahead
The key to making the most out of studying is to plan how, where and when to study. Furthermore, you must identify and set clear goals you want to reach in order to find effective ways of accomplishing them. Most students, whether in high school or college, have a tendency to cram studying into one session due to the lack of organizational and planning skills. Cramming everything in at once can cause information to mix in your head and inevitably cause confusion.

Carefully planning out your studying process will help you learn everything you need, minus the stress. Start by identifying a learning style that suits you best. See whether you learn better in groups or alone, and try to find out if you prefer studying in the morning or evening. Make a study plan based on your preferences.

Manage time
For students, managing time and daily activities can be quite a nightmare. Furthermore, it’s easy to lose track of time when focusing on too many things at once. That’s why it’s important to be consistent when it comes to studying. For example, a few hours of studying each day will help you learn a lot better than studying for twelve hours straight, the night before an exam. If you fit a few hours of studying each day into your schedule you will be able to progress much better. However, it’s important to be consistent with your daily study plan in order to get the best results. You may have to sacrifice some personal time to achieve this, but it’s for the right purpose.

Always take notes
Taking notes in class is greatly beneficial for learning the subject. Each student creates their own unique set of notes that help them learn more effectively, and many times you catch some information a professor mentions that isn’t included in textbooks. Some students neglect to take notes or simply take the opportunity to doze off during class. If you miss out on a chance to take notes, borrow them from a friend or search through websites like Thinkswap for similar study notes. The important thing is to have notes, as they will greatly aid you in learning what you need to know for an exam.

Distractions
Whether you study at home, your dorm or a park, there will always be distractions. Learn how to focus on what you’re doing and tune out random things around you. Avoiding distractions altogether is almost impossible, so choose a place to study that has the least commotion. Remember to turn off your smartphone and other devices when studying, because no one can distract you more than you can distract yourself. Some things can throw you off balance such as relationship or family issues – in these kinds of situations, studying can be quite difficult. The important thing is not to force yourself to learn. If it’s not your day, take a break and relax. Forcing yourself to study is ineffective and counterproductive – you will only stress yourself out further.

Taking some “me” time every now and then is good for you. Rest is just as important as dedication and hard work. Everyone needs time to recharge and clear their thoughts in order to improve their well-being and concentration.

Studying smart is not that difficult; it just needs some good planning and organization. Mix in regular breaks to eat, sleep, exercise and relax. After all, you want your brain to function properly and not burn out completely.

This article was contributed by guest author Alex Williams.

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Light in the Study: Why Having a Well Lit Study Room is Important for You

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Your college finals are almost here and you will probably have to pull several all-nighters in order to survive the semester. However, even though you might be desperate, you shouldn’t study in a poorly lit room. Designate a room for your studying sessions, but remember to let the light inside. Lighting in your study room is essential, because it can greatly affect your productivity. Productivity and the hours you are able to spend in there will depend on how tired your eyes are, and they get tired faster in weak light. Therefore, make sure to incorporate several layers of lighting so you will be able to pull off many hours of studying. Here’s what you should consider.

Embrace natural light
Moms always say you shouldn’t read in the dark, and they are right. Even though you think you see well, you don’t know how much effort your eyes are actually making in order to read what’s in front of you. If there’s not enough light, your eyes will try to sharpen the image and you will end up with eye strain and fatigue. One of the best ways to prevent this is by letting natural daylight into your study room. Rely on big windows or install a skylight if possible. Also, try and place your desk beside the windows so you receive as much light as possible. However, if you prefer studying during the night or evening, you will need some other lighting solutions.

General lighting
Besides the natural light, it is also important to have general lighting. General lighting will illuminate the entire room, and it is glare-free. For this purpose you can rely on ceiling and wall lights, as well as spotlights. When picking general lighting, you should focus on finding warm white light with a high proportion of indirect light, which will reduce the stress in your eyes. Another option is cold white light which will help improve your performance, focus and productivity while studying. However, some of these general lights might warm up the room too much during summer. If you want to combine quality illumination with some cooling, you can opt for ceiling fans with lights. These are great for illumination, and will create a much cozier environment so you can literally stay cool. Plus, the soft humming will relax you and enable you to focus on your work.

Task lighting
While general lights are great for overall atmosphere, you will need some more help if you plan on pulling all-nighters. Set up a task light on your desk or station for your projects. Task lighting will reduce glare and shadows that are caused by your computer. Use a desk lamp with adjustable lights to easily set the mood you need depending on how much you use your laptop. If you have a station for doing your projects, consider a bigger lamp, some pendant lighting fixtures, or wall-mounted lights that can hang above and illuminate your work. Just make sure to find the right angle in order to avoid those troubling shadows that hinder your productivity.

Illuminate your shelves and cabinets
Lighting in your study isn’t only beneficial for reducing eye strain. It can also set the right atmosphere for studying, which will make the whole process less painful. Add some light to your shelves and cabinets. You can even accentuate certain objects or points for a dramatic effect. Plus, by lighting up these areas, it will be easier to find your books and workbooks, and you will be less stressed when you realize the book you were looking for is not forever lost after all.

Take your mother’s advice and don’t read in a poorly lit room. A well-lit study room is important, because it can affect you in many ways. Your eyes won’t get tired as easily, you will create a relaxing atmosphere and you might even enjoy studying for your finals.

This article was contributed by guest Lana Hawkins.

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How To Foster A Study Conducive Environment

Image by Filipp Kozachuk, pexels.com

Image by Filipp Kozachuk, pexels.com

Self-study is just as important as the process of gaining knowledge and building concepts. It is very important that a certain input of knowledge is reinforced positively and the environment is conducive to promote retention of knowledge. Hard work needs to be strengthened by smart work which includes boosting your productivity by having the right setting to set your study mode on. The environment you work in will determine how successful your learning efforts will be, and how much will actually sink in. Controlling your study environment can help you identify where you’re lacking so you can fill in the loopholes deterring you from achieving maximum efficiency in your academic life.

Say ‘NO’ to mobile phones and technology!
What if I tell you to switch off the WiFi when studying? Sounds impossible, right? The pre-conceived notion we have regarding the crucial importance of internet proves to be quite a big distraction sometimes. Manage your screen time so you’re not led away by incessant notifications flooding your smartphone. Social media can be addictive and you need to forcibly withdraw yourself from this habit of being hooked onto hours and hours of Facebook scrolling, live streaming videos or texting. Before you realize, your precious time is lost.

Have a separate study room/corner to yourself
You can’t expect yourself to be able to concentrate in the middle of the living room with people around and your roommate watching their favorite show. Get some privacy to give your 100% to the subject matter at hand so you’re not distracted by background noises and annoying giggles from the next room. Even a designated study corner to cater to your study needs can help you focus. College life often makes this possible by having quiet study rooms and a library full of the most helpful resources.

Music is therapy
No one can deny the effects of music on your mood and the way it facilitates your thought processes. Music is a great way to rev up your spirits and put you in the mood to get you started. Some personalities may prefer silence but some others feel energized by the beat of the music and the rhythm it puts them in. Often people can better concentrate on their studies with earphones plugged in their ears, shutting them off from the rowdy outside world.

Keep yourself organized
You will be surprised at the psychological effect that a cluttered workspace or even a crowded desktop can have. Keeping your mind as well as your surrounding organized is a surefire way to enhance productivity. Your mind is programmed to work best when there are minimal visual distractions. Paperwork spread all over the place or important documents in a haphazard order can wreak havoc in your study area. Instead, keep track of your things in proper folders, and track expenses on excel sheets.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachael Everly.

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7 Study Hacks for Getting a Perfect Score on the Exam

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

If you have a big test coming up, there is a strong chance that you are pulling all-nighters, eating unhealthy study snacks, and feeling completely anxious. You may even be found running all across campus searching for study groups or cramming all of the information you learned in class into your head. Most likely you are overwhelmed with other assignments like homework and projects.

Taking a test always promotes anxiety in students. It is completely normal to feel the pressure during a time like this. You want to do well in order to progress to the career of your dreams. However, you do not have to be one of few that crumbles under the pressure. Here are 7 proven ways to get the perfect score on any exam. Are you ready? Here it goes:

1. Power Off
The biggest mistake many students make is keeping their electronic devices on while studying. This is highly ineffective. Every time your ringtone goes off or you receive a text message, you will be distracted. For this reason, it is important that you shut off all devices — and yes that means your phone, tablet, television, and laptop. Make sure to turn everything off so that you can get the concentration that is needed to study effectively. You may be tempted to check your social media feeds or watch a YouTube video after, however studies have shown that these stimuli only keep the brain awake, therefore leading to sleepy mornings. Tell your friends that you are studying. Any great messages, Facebook status updates, or Instagram pictures can wait for another time.

2. Eat Right
The days leading up to your exam could easily cause you to slip into bad ways. The stress of studying provokes emotional eating in some while it also serves as a distraction. If you find yourself practicing any of those habits, it is essential that you replace the donuts and pizza for water, fruits, and vegetables. By now you may be thinking “Ugh, who eats that?” but these foods actually do more than just gross you out. Water replenishes you and keeps your body hydrated. According to studies, this will not only cool you down, but will also promote excellent cognitive function and physical energy. In addition to this, fruits like apples and blueberries have been found to have toxin reducing agents that maintain your memory levels. So instead of grabbing that energy drink and extra cup of coffee, try good old fashioned fruits and veggies. They never disappoint.

3. Create Mental Associations
If you are studying a complex subject that includes large amounts of abbreviated terms, try breaking the letters down into acronyms. Connect the bridge between what you know and what you learn. Place fun catchy names on difficult phrases. If you find that an important term is not relatable, get creative and think of something. For example, if you are studying the word ‘blanco’ in Spanish, think of the color of a blank sheet of paper. This method is highly effective and wins every time. Try this for any and every subject.

4. Try Whiteboards
Everyone learns differently from others. While some individuals thrive in lecture class settings, others may do better academically in museums. There are numerous learning styles that allow each person to learn effectively. For those who are visual, whiteboards are an excellent tool to use. Instead of staring at textbooks filled with words, get an erasable marker and draw the words that you are studying. For example, if you are studying math, you may find it easier if you drew figures. If you are studying a complex piece of literature, try writing out the different names and terms that call for attention. You can even get creative and use different colored markers. This is excellent for those who think in pictures.

5. Laugh!
You might find this tip quite silly but it proves effective for the most stressed students. Sure we know that exams are serious and that your future is on the line. However, you should never allow tests to cause burn out. In fact, it is proven that laughter releases built-up tension. There are so many high emotions that revolve around midterms and finals. Consider how you can find balance in the midst of a stressful test period. Most of all, relax. You will do great.

Taking an exam does not have to have you stressed to the max. Consider studying the right way by powering off, nourishing your body the right way, creating mental associations with difficult terms, using whiteboards to boost memory, and do not forget to laugh. Before you pick up that donut, try these tried and true methods the next time you have an exam.

This article was contributed by guest author Sophia Clark.

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Efficient and Effective Studying – An Infographic

Studying is a fact of life for students, but for many it is a huge struggle and a constant battle. The key is to find a method that suits your style so that you can get the most from the time that you put into it.

Procrastination is the enemy for students and with so many distractions in the world today (namely smartphones and social media), it can be difficult to focus. However, focus is required in order to get the results required to fast-track you to a successful career. Good results from your studies will set you apart from the masses – so be mindful of their importance.

This infographic from Study Medicine Europe aims to give some helpful tips and hints on how to study effectively. All is not lost if time isn’t your friend!

Image by guest author Aris Grigoriou

This article was contributed by guest author Aris Grigoriou.

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Excel on Standardized Tests with These 5 Tips

Image by Alberto G, Flickr

Image by Alberto G, Flickr

Standardized testing plays a major role in every stage of education, and in some cases, standardized testing can make or break you. You need to score well on standardized tests to get into college and grad school, and after that, you need to score well on standardized tests to enter the workforce.  In many states, high stakes tests begin as early as the 5th grade, and they bring with them a lot of pressure. There are a few things that you can do before the big test to help calm your nerves before getting your brain focused on the task:

Repetition

There is a wealth of testing practice available that can help you prepare for any high stakes tests, including tutoring agencies, online practice tests, and personal tutors.  Utilizing one of these programs will get you the repetition and practice you need for the big day. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect, and if you want to perfect that score, you need consistent practice.

Read

Reading to education is like weightlifting to football. The more you read, the stronger your brain becomes. High stakes standardized tests require complex thinking, and the brain needs to be exercised in order to carry out that task. Reading will give the brain the exercise it needs to think through challenging questions.

Pay Attention to Vocabulary

A strong vocabulary is crucial to passing high stakes test. Be it the need for domain specific vocabulary, jargon related to a field, or simply vocabulary to sound intelligent, you need to pay close attention to the words that those around you use.  One way to do this is to listen to the words used in pop culture or in the media.  News reports are chockfull of great words that act as grace notes — the exact right word.  Begin to ask yourself, “What connotation did the word carry to make it the right word?”  You will begin to see the nuances in language, and it will help you tremendously when it comes to taking those high stakes standardized tests.

Practice Reading Questions Carefully

One thing that many people struggle with when it comes to standardized tests is question reading.  Many people begin to read the question and then skim through the rest assuming they know what the question was asking.  If you catch yourself doing this, keep this in mind:  Test takers know you do this, so they write questions to catch people who do this.  Take your time, read the question fully, and then answer the question.  If you know you are a person who skims and then responds, practice reading test questions so that you can train your brain to slow down.

Pace Yourself

Do not spend too much time stressing over one question. Time is valuable when it comes to high stakes standardized tests, so if you have to move on, do so.  If you spend too much time stressing over one answer, you could run out of time and miss questions you could have easily answered.  Move on and come back.

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How to Focus in Summer School

Image by Francisco Osorio on Flickr

Image by Francisco Osorio on Flickr

School can be tiresome. Exams, essays, assignments – none of it is ideal. However, no one needs to tell you that learning is beneficial to your future. It makes you more knowledgeable, enriches your life and helps you find a job. So in those gorgeous summer months, how does one focus in summer school?

All you have to do is make learning entertaining – and yes, there are many ways to do it. You can even put your own twist on it. Here are just some of the ways to make education fun:

  • Choose courses you’re interested in. If you can, try to choose courses that intrigue you. Summer is one of the hardest times to focus. The more interesting you find a course, the easier it will be for you to absorb facts, remember information and complete projects and assignments with gusto.
  • Listen to music when you’re studying. Studying can be tedious, but listening to music can make it fun. You may wish to do this when you’re completing assignments and essays as well. Keep in mind this can be distracting for some people, so our advice is to try it out once and see what effect it has on you.
  • Make friends. Approach people who you think you might share common interests with. Knowing you’ll see your friends will motivate you to wake up early in the morning for class. You may also wish to study with them, as it can make the process a little less stressful.
  • Explore the campus. Use your time in between classes to browse the shops, restaurants and bars available to you on campus. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for walks on your study breaks to clear your head.
  • Start an after school hangout routine. Once a week, arrange a spot to meet with your friends. You can grab a coffee, read over notes, go over textbook questions or simply enjoy yourselves.

Summer school is not that hard when you try to make it entertaining. Remember to choose courses that interest you, listen to music while completing tasks, make friends in your classes, arrange a weekly hangout with your classmates and make light of what the campus has to offer. This may even motivate you to wake up early in the morning and attend every class. Summer school doesn’t have to be a bore – you just have to make the most of it.

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5 Things I’ve Learned Halfway Through University

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Photo by uniinnsbruck on Flickr

Reaching the halfway point of my university career has been a bit scary. Those two years flew by and soon enough the next two years will be done as well. I find it important to reflect on the things I’ve learned throughout my first two years both in and out of the classroom, and in regards to university as a whole. More importantly, I believe it is essential to highlight the skills I have learned in regards to studying, and how newcomers to university can learn from previous mistakes that I’ve made. Having finished my second year of university and reflecting back on my time of studies, there are many things I feel should be highlighted for new students.

  1. Start the semester strong – Being able to do really well on those early midterms and essays makes a difference. Rather than being pressured to ace your final exam or essay, do well on the earlier work to reduce the stress you’ll have later on.
  2. Find YOUR best way to study – Not everyone works well in study groups or at the library; I know I didn’t. Finding the manner in which you work the best and sticking to it will help you excel in school. By the end of first year it may already be a routine!
  3. Manage your time for other activities – Constant studying will exhaust you and it’s important to do other things while on campus – playing sports, joining clubs, seeing friends, attending parties. Make sure to leave time for fun and don’t constantly think about what’s due next week.
  4. Get enough sleep – Especially for those living on residence, getting the proper amount of sleep can be difficult sometimes. Ensuring you’re well rested for lectures and not being lazy about attendance is good habit to keep throughout your four years. Don’t get too immersed into the party life and staying out late on school nights; your studies should still come first.
  5. Take advantage of the resources on campus – Every university, no matter their size, is equipped to help students deal with the problems they’re having. And even if you’re not in a pickle and just looking to find a job or some information, your school will have the right people there to help you.

I hope these tips help you get through your first two years of university and avoid some of the mistakes that I made. University is a great time – be sure to enjoy your stay!

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Equal Attention Needed: Keys to Balancing Out Your Life While Earning Your Degree

Image by Victoria Nevland, Flickr

Image by Victoria Nevland, Flickr

Starting college is both an exciting and challenging experience. As a freshman, for the first time, you’ll be making all the decisions regarding your life. If you want, you could party all night without worrying about your parents’ reaction when you get home. You can eat anything you want and go anywhere you want. However, you will have the responsibility of attending class and setting aside time for studying. It can become difficult to maintain a balance between your studies and your desire to socialize and enjoy the best years of your life. Here are some tips to help you maintain that balance.

Create a Schedule

A strict schedule that you hold yourself to can mean the difference between your success and failure as a student. In addition to your class schedule, you have to manage your time in a responsible manner. For example, just because your classes may start in the afternoon does not mean you can party all night and sleep all morning. Make sure you get enough sleep and save the partying for non-school nights or the weekends. Furthermore, you should set aside at least 15 hours each week for studying.

Keep Extra Activities to a Minimum

You may be excited to join every club and organization on campus. However, you’ll want to be careful not to wear yourself thin. Until you get comfortable with your course-load and new environment, limit extracurricular activities to just a few.

Diet and Exercise

While it may not seem so, your diet and exercise habits will have a huge effect on your ability to do well in school. How well you diet and exercise in college will translate to your ability to deal with stress, concentrate, have energy, and keep a good mood.

Stay Connected with Home

The combination of sudden freedom, your hormones, your desire to experiment, and your course-load can make college a little hectic, so call home every now and then to gain perspective. Remember that there are people who love you and who have your best interests at heart. Don’t let the demands from your instructors and drama from those around you stress you out.

Online Degree Program

The traditional classroom education isn’t for everyone. You may benefit from the flexibility of an online degree program. Obtaining your degree online will give you the freedom to work at your own pace without the typical distractions and setbacks of a campus. Many schools offer online degrees you can earn. An example could be the online Masters of Science in Nursing program that the University of San Francisco offers.

In college, you will undoubtedly have to work hard. However, there is still room to have fun. You just need to find a manageable balance between work and play. Remember that college is just one step in your life that will soon be over. Maintain a balance, stay focused, and enjoy yourself!

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.

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