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Scientifically, The Best Ways To Prepare For Final Exams

Scientifically, the best way to study for college exams

Finals week can be a stressful time for all students–I know it is for me. So, knowing how to properly prepare for finals is the key to avoiding stress and acing every single one of your exams. Of course, all students would love to relax by receiving massages or by the healing power of dogs before finals (I sure would!).

But, we all know this isn’t really possible. There needs to be a uniform way to assess our performance as students and it has to happen at some point (hence, “finals”). So how else can we lower stress and know that we’re on the right track to excel in each course? Well, here are some proven methods that will have you focused and better prepared for final exams.

1. Say NO to cramming: Study in intervals! Studying in 20-50 minute increments and giving yourself 5-10 minutes in between is more beneficial than cramming.  Distributing learning over time typically benefits long-term retention more than a short period.

2. Say YES to cardio: Science says that just 20 minutes of cardio can improve your memory. Whether you’re dancing, jogging or busting a sweat by walking, exercise will increase your energy level and reduce the effects of stress. Very important!

3. Eat superfoods/antioxidants: Everybody knows you should eat breakfast the day of a big test. Research suggests that high-carb, high-fiber, slow-digesting foods like oatmeal are best (oatmeal is more fulfilling than cereal). But what you eat a week in advance matters, too. When 16 college students were tested on attention and thinking speed, then fed a five-day high-fat, low-carb diet heavy on meat, eggs, cheese and cream and tested again, their performance declined. The students who ate a balanced diet that included fruit and vegetables, however, held steady, says Cameron Holloway, a senior clinical researcher at the University of Oxford.  When you study, your brain consumes glucose, so  take a five-minute break every hour to let your body produce more fuel for your studying. Eating a healthy snack is very beneficial and can make a significant difference (almonds, fruit, and yogurt are good choices).



4. Alternate study spots: Shake up your finals routine! Spending all night in the library can be draining. According to the New York Times, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. In an experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Why? Supposedly, the brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time. Try alternating your study spots between the library, a study room, and a quiet coffee house.

5. Time management: Cramming causes anxiety, which lowers your ability to retain information. By creating a balanced study plan and schedule, you will be able to study each subject in its entirety and ultimately boost your test performance.

6. Avoid the all-nighter: Almost every college student pulls an all-nighter, but it is a bad idea. Based on a 2008 study by Pamela Thacher, Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Lawrence University, all-nighters impair reasoning and memory for as long as four days.  As a result, you will receive lower grades. But that’s not all; you would then be forced to wake up earlier than expected–and that’s bad too. According to Dan Taylor, director of a sleep-and-health-research lab at the University of North Texas, this will interfere with rapid-eye movement (REM), which aids memory. So, get a good night’s sleep and expect to perform better on tests. (Quick tip: Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test. It makes it easier to recall the material later, adds Taylor!)

 Scientifically Best Way To Study

7. MINIMIZE distractions: Research shows that while many teens prefer to study while listening to music, texting friends, or watching television, they are less likely to retain information that way. If you must listen to music, stick to instrumental music and consider downloading these study tools to keep you focused!

8. MAXIMIZE practice-testing: You may have thought highlighting, re-reading and summation would be effective ways to study. Think again!  A 2013 study, Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques, found that these techniques do not consistently boost students’ performance. Practice testing through the use of flashcards, or taking practice exams was observed to be a highly effective studying technique.

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    Shaniese Alston

    Written by Shaniese Alston

    Shaniese Alston was a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York for the fall 2013 academic semester while a student at the University at Albany.

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    Join the Conversation:


    There are 49 comments

  • aman says:

    Thank you so much for the article, some best ways to avoid stress and anxiety are provided. Helpful……

  • cabdiqaadir taani says:

    why no to cramming

  • ajitrshah says:

    its a very good concept to follow and manage your time & also to increase your memory capacity……!

  • Binod says:

    Nice tips I think I m missing some of them…..but now I can correct myself ….thanx a lot….

  • reyezard says:

    i have final exams next week nd i will surely use these tips….thanx

  • mo says:

    thanks helped a lot

  • vadu says:

    Hello, I think while preparing for final exams we should prepare self written notes that’s why it will be helpful for us to do revision at the end time of the exam time.

    I think this is a cutting edge concept.

  • Sanjana says:

    Thanks..:) Your article is great!

  • yaduvanshi says:

    hello, great blog post

    Specially I like the way you people express to prepare for exams, almost the same way I have prepared my exams while doing engineering.

  • Samuel Sagar Thapa says:

    Thanks lot for good inspiring suggestions and tips…

  • Sasha says:

    Thanks a lot, your tips are great, yet it’s much more easier for me to study in the evening and at night, since i am a night owl. i think there are many people who have the same biorhythm. Anyway, the article is very interesting.

  • Anam Rabbani says:

    Thanx sister your tips are awesome :* :)

  • If you are a night owl you can study by the nights. Night owls and early risers have different brain structures. You can read about it.

  • swati sharma says:

    Really.fab…..thks for the suggestions

  • Carol says:

    This article is very helpful though i wish i had seen it before i did my finals last year.
    i cramming mostly and now it is affecting me at my work place since i remember little of the info.

  • Rukhshana Parween says:

    I hope these tips will help me for my exam

  • Rukhshana Parween says:

    I hope these tips will work on me sothat i can be a topper of my college like alwas

  • Wonderful ways about preparing for exams! Speed reading can be another best way, It is used to improve one’s ability to read quickly.

    I have come across an organization which published an article about speed reading.

  • Mitch M. says:

    2. Say YES to cardio: Science says that just 20 minutes of cardio can improve your memory. Whether *your* dancing, jogging or busting a sweat by walking, exercise will increase your energy level and reduce the effects of stress. Very important!

    ‘your’ should be ‘you’re’

  • Jb says:

    thanks for the tips. its more convincing and hence encouraging. selection of alternate-study-spot-point is very beneficial,

  • bleylock says:

    my exams are on week and i have hardly studied anything

    cramming is not working but my parents insist me on cramming

  • lajean says:

    The tips are great but how do you attack ALL 6 subjects for finals when the finals are taking in the same week? Do I study each subject for an hour, a day or what? I seems to cram everything at once and its not working for me.

  • I think all of us somehow study last minute.

    I agree though that cramming isn’t efficient.

  • shaiji says:

    thanks,i like the all tips.because,these are more helpful for the students.

  • mohammed marsooque says:

    thank you Shaniese Alston…
    7th point is very usefull for me…
    i hope these studiying tips will work for me

  • geethu says:

    I like the sixth point. because, it related to me. I studying all nights without sleep.when i read the point, i understand that what ever did till now is big mistake.

  • soumya says:

    thanks for giving an extraordinary tips for examination.I like the sixth one.Because most of students are trying to finish the portion. so they want study during night also .but this will be affect badly to the next day

  • vidya AP says:

    I like fifth point. Because, till now i was like that.. always cramming method.. but now i understood that it is not good..
    I am thanking to this website for gave me such a good information.

  • Antony says:

    thanks for these great study tips

  • ali abbas says:

    Break should be taken after 20 or 25 minutes but it should be not more than of 8 minute

  • Billybobjoe says:

    I don’t know…I study for a final a week before, then on Sunday, I take a break, because nobody wants to be stressed…right?

  • yusluv says:

    Gonna try it and works toward it τ̲̅o the fullest who know it might a great help ever.

  • John F says:

    Great article!

    What most people don’t realize is that studying and learning should never be too difficult. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what it’s like. You know the feeling: you go to class, get a ton of homework, then spend hours and hours reading over your notes, trying to memorize everything in a mad panic before your next exam.
    Not only is this stressful, but studying this way is both time consuming and a huge waste of energy. But the good news is, studying doesn’t have to be this difficult.
    In fact, if done correctly studying and learning should be a pleasurable experience. It shouldn’t be hard and it should probably take you less than half the time you’re already spending. So how is all this possible?

    This video explains some of my views:
    Efficient studying

  • Ben Gates says:

    Knowing your learning style is important. Auditory learners might benefit from hearing content versus reading:

  • Hamed says:

    I think cramming can be helpfull only if you understand the supject very well. so your brain use them as a referances.

  • UBOcash says:

    “The Best Ways To Prepare For Final”. I like that title word. Awesome

  • I like the first point. It is the most important of all of these. Take a break after studying for about 20-25 minutes. The main reason behind this is that an average student can’t hold up his /her concentration for more than 25 minutes. And I have created an infographic on this subject, check it out >

  • peter says:

    This is great stuff

  • nc says:

    I used to highlight entire pages in my chemistry textbook and summarize each section in the margins, thinking that would help me, but I still scored low on tests. No more cramming for me! I’m going to be taking more practice tests and making lots of flashcards.

  • Thandekile says:

    I hope this study tips will work for me as it did to others

  • Wow these are the best study hacks that i have read over internet. I think retaining what we have studied is more important than studying a lot of stuff.

  • Kanwal says:

    Hey Mark, What do you mean by memory exercise..?? :)

  • Mark says:

    These are some very great tips! However, you forgot to mention using memory exercises which stores even more information while studying! These eight steps is definitely Good wisdom and the reader should heed to what the page is saying. Thank you for these tips and Merry Christmas Everyone!

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