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With finals approaching, many may feel that studying for cumulative exams can be a little overwhelming to say the least. As a second-semester sophomore, I know how daunting studying for every exam can be. Here are some helpful tips to help you get through the next few weeks!

 

1. Break it up!

Don’t try and study a semester’s worth of material in one night! That is a surefire way to drive yourself crazy. Break up material into manageable chunks so that you don’t get overwhelmed or overtired while reviewing the material. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, decades of research have shown that spacing out study sessions over longer periods of time, instead of trying to cram it all into two nights, improves long-term memory. According to additional psychological studies, one of the best ways to encode information in memory is by taking breaks. By taking breaks, you allow your mind to process and organize information in a way that allows you to recall it later. So don’t stay up all night before your exam—start studying early with smaller amounts of material.

2.  Utilize your professor’s office hours!

Still not understanding material after studying for a while? Why not stop by your professor’s office hours and ask for clarification? Your professors are a wonderful resource here on campus, and they all want to see you succeed. Check the syllabus and see when your professor is holding office hours or shoot them an email and set up a time to meet during the week.

3. Reward yourself!

Studying can be mentally taxing —who else has spent countless hours in the library without taking a break only to realize that while you were reading up on 18th century European history and the world, the sun set and everyone else on campus had gone to bed. Taking well-deserved breaks to do something fun for yourself can help keep you in the mood to continue studying. Recent studies done by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign show that brief diversion dramatically enhance focus. It is recommended that you study for fifty minutes, with a ten minute break to break up your studying and keep you focused. So go get that coffee! Take a walk around campus, or watch a funny television show or movie. Make sure you reward yourself for all your hard work so studying does not become a chore.

As the end of semester approaches, it may seem like the weight of the world is coming down on your shoulders. Remember to breathe, focus and do your best! Finals will be over before you know it, and as soon as they are, you can enjoy the summer and recharge. Studying does not have to be overwhelming, and finals don’t have to be scary. For me, personally, I find that making a study playlist of relaxing music helps me to focus in on the material at hand and tune out the white noise around me. Find what works for you and go with it. 

If you find yourself having trouble focusing, turn your phone off when you’ve decided to start studying or download a focus app like “Flora.” Flora is free app that encourages you to keep your phone locked while you focus by planting real trees for the time in which your phone is kept off. It is a great incentive to not only help you focus on the task at hand but also give back to the environment. Whatever way you choose to study, just remember to give it your best shot.