Study Smarter, Not Harder!

Are pending finals wreaking havoc on your holiday cheer? We get it, and we want to help. While we can’t stop finals from happening, we can give you some of our best advice on how to prepare for them. Read on for some tried and true tips and tricks! 

1. Create a Study Schedule. 

  • Find a study schedule template (like this one!) and fill in your final exam schedule and other non-negotiable obligations (work, class, appointments, etc.). Next, allot time for wellness breaks that are vital to maintaining energy and focus – meals, rest, etc. Lastly, spend some time calculating how many hours you should spend preparing for each final, and then fill in your free time accordingly.  
  • Be aware of your strengths – if you’re a morning person, try scheduling your study sessions earlier in the day to take advantage of that energy! 

2. Start with something you’re interested in.  

  • Struggling to study because you’re dreading the subject matter? Start with a different subject. Getting started is one of the hardest challenges to overcome. Make it easier on yourself by studying your favorite subject first. 

3. Use the Five R’s Method

  • Record – write legibly   
  • Reduce – your notes by using keywords as cue words 
  • Recite – all information in your own words 
  • Reflect – think of your own opinions and ideas related to content  
  • Review – your notes before the final or presentation 

4. Explain the material to a friend or family member. 

  • Taking on the role of the instructor will help you to better focus, organize, absorb, comprehend, and retain the information. 

5. Namaste on Track!  

  • Leave time to meditate or relax prior to a presentation or final. Meditating and relaxing can reduce stress and anxiety, ultimately leading to increased self-confidence, focus, and retention of the subject matter 

6. Be realistic.  

  • We’re not wired to study for 24 hours straight! Setting goals to study for unrealistic periods of time adds pressure to an already stressful situation, leads to disappoint when the goal isn’t met, and sacrifices wellness. Be sensible as you schedule your study time; you’ll thank yourself later!   

7. Limit distractions. 

  • This looks different to everybody, so find what works best for you. Is turning your cell phone off not an option? No problem. Consider silencing it and scheduling “check-in” times once an hour.  

8. Create two study zones. 

  • Creating two comfortable study zones is a great way to overcome “study fatigue.” Lacking focus and ambition in one study zone? Pack up your books and relocate! 

9. Stop right there! 

  • Don’t forget to take breaks as you study. One method, the Pomodoro Technique, suggests breaking work down into timed intervals with short breaks in between. For example, you may consider setting a timer for 25 minutes, and then taking a 5-minute break when the time is up. 

Want to learn more about which methods of studying will work best for you? Check out this series on the GMU Learning Service’s website called, “How to Get the Most Out of Studying. 

Study on, CEHD! 

Brianna Alfors, CEHD Student Enrichment Coordinator

Brianna Alford is the Student Enrichment Coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development. When she’s not devising opportunities for CEHD students to Be Engaged, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and advocating for a proper RSVP.