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Cramming 101: Making it Through Last Chance Study Time

December 6th, 2010 admin

The last few days before a final always seem to creep up on us way too quickly, but when it’s time to cram, don’t just head to the library and drive yourself crazy. Here’s your finals week guide to effective studying.

Evaluate. I’ve written a lot about studying practices in the past, and now’s the time to honestly evaluate which style works best for you. If you work best alone, skip out on the study groups. If you’re a daytime studier, don’t waste daylight hours sleeping! And if you remember things better when you write them out, turn off the computer and pull out your pencil. Now’s the time to get serious.

Plan. I’m a huge advocate of making a study schedule–it will not only help you stay on track, but also helps you feel more in control during a very stressful time. Plan to focus study for your closest tests first, but intersperse your days with different subjects to keep your brain fresh. If you can, give yourself an extra couple of days for overflow in case you get behind.

Study. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Finals week is prime time for procrastinating (I used to excuse myself from studying by cleaning my room, rationalizing that it was so productive). So log out of Facebook, cut off your chatting, and if you can, turn off your internet connection completely. Don’t make excuses, just study.

Move.
Exercise is an awesome tool. It helps keep your brain active (while giving it a rest from all those flashcards), lets your body stretch, gives you a kick of adrenaline and endorphins, and is even thought to help ward off depression. When you take your study breaks, be sure to get up and move, even if it’s just taking a brisk walk outside for a few minutes.

Rest. Sleep deprivation is already a problem in college, but finals week it gets exponentially worse. If you don’t feel you can afford a full 8 hours (which is optimal for most people) indulge in some naps during study breaks to keep you going. Sleep helps keep your brain sharp and lets your body recharge (for a new day of grueling studying…).

Nourish.
Your body needs energy–especially when you aren’t letting it sleep enough–so don’t give up lunchtime to study. Eating healthy, regular meals and snacks will help you get more out of your study sessions, so head over to the caf (take your books if you must) and get your three meals a day.

Hydrate. One of the symptoms of dehydration is sleepiness, so kick that extra drag on your energy by drinking lots of water. Stay away from sugary drinks or coffee, which give you a rush of energy and then a potential energy crash, and (obviously) alcohol, which actually dehydrates you (in addition to dulling your studying skills!).

Good luck!

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