Final exam time: How to study and top 10 ways to blow your finals

Finals seasonAack, it’s that time of year! The summer sun is calling, but before we break for freedom, there are those needling final exams to get through. The final exam torture routine includes all-night study sessions and copious amounts of Red Bull. We scour study tips and test taking tips in the hopes of gaining a few extra points on our tests. Often we know what we’re supposed to do — practice effective study habits; get a good night’s sleep. But there are plenty of things we should not do. Here are some fool-proof ways to bomb your finals (that you should probably avoid!):

1. Wait until the last minute — Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many of us think we have all the time in the world to study for finals. “Strive to set aside two to four hours each day to do some work. This is especially important in classes that require a lot of reading. Because reading is so time-consuming, it’s hard to make up for lost time at the last minute,” according to “Your Guide to Beating the Finals Week Frenzy” in Get a jump on the material ahead of time.

2. Stay up all night — Ah, the all-nighter! A time honored tradition. But the more your sleep-deprived brain stares at a page, the less it absorbs. Researchers have found that a good night’s sleep before a test helps your brain remember what it has just learned. “The National Institutes of Health found sleep deprived students have lower GPAs due to the fact that it impacts memory and concentration,” reported Dr. Robert Oexman in “Don’t Skip Sleep to Score High on Finals,” May 8, 2012, in Oexman added, “Sleep is an active process where the brain works to heal the body.… This is also the time for the brain to consolidate memories of what we studied and learned that day.”

3. Ignore the professor — He (or she) is sitting all alone in their little office just hoping a student would come by to visit. Seriously, though, your best resource is the source itself. Instructors and TAs are available to help you understand complicated material, offer review sessions, give study tips, etc.

4. Study the wrong stuff — Some instructors are generous and spell out for you what you need to concentrate on for the final. Pay attention! Take the hints and don’t waste time on material that won’t be on the test.

5. Go to the wrong room — Some colleges group all the Biology 101 or Psychology 101 classes together in one big lecture hall for the final exam. Learn where your final will be if it is not in your usual classroom, and arrive on time.

6. Skip the instructions — Don’t fully read the questions, don’t follow directions, mark all the multiple choice questions “B” and don’t collect your thoughts before you start writing an essay. Yup, sure-fire ways to bomb your finals.

7. Go it alone — Studying doesn’t always have to be alone. Your BFFs can be a beneficial and motivational force when you’re studying. Gather together, discuss complicated material and help each other with difficult terms or concepts.

8. Multitask — It works for some people, but if you have music on, the TV on and you’re checking your texts, your brain is processing too much at once. It should be giving full attention to your studies. Find a quiet corner to concentrate.

9. Tweet and post incessantly — Hey, when I’m pressed for time studying for finals, the highest priority activity on my list is spending hours updating my profile and tweeting all my friends complaining, “I wish I had more time to study.” (Yeah, that was sarcasm.)

10. Give up your exercise routine — You might gain a few extra hours to study, but changing your exercise schedule screws up your body, affects your memory and makes you stressed out. “Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors, which help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn,” according to Deborah Kotz and Angela Haupt in “7 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise” in U.S. News Health.

What are some things you know you shouldn’t do when finals are approaching?

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