Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

by - January 23, 2021

 Studying. Does the word fill you with dread? Long hours in front of a screen. Trying to cram tons of facts into your head that just won't stick. Pouring over a textbook at the last minute, trying to decide what you actually need to know and what you can (hopefully)  safely forget about. And generally feeling unprepared even though you tried. I think you get the picture.

Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

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Updated for 2024

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If you are reading this post, you are probably a high schooler or a college student looking for tips on how to study because you want to get better grades. You need better grades. Reading this post is a great start because it shows that you are actively working on learning how to study better. Good for you!

Today, I wanted to share my best tips for studying. I'm not a professional, and I am learning new ways to study more efficiently and improve all the time, but I am a straight-A student who tries my best, and I hope you will find these tips helpful for you as well!

And now, without further ado, let's get right into the study tips! I know you might be reading this post because you are procrastinating studying right now. ;)

Study Tips You Can Use For Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

1. Plan Ahead

Okay, a very cliche general tip to start off, but this is important, and I can't stress this enough. I'm really sorry, but if you are reading this post at 3 AM because you have a final today at 8 AM, you will not have enough time to study effectively. I recommend going to bed. 

And a little side note, reading your notes/studying flashcards before you go to bed, is a good way to memorize things. While you are lying in bed falling asleep, you can practice saying in your head, something you are trying to memorize, and when you wake up, you will know it better. It works for me!

You might be rolling your eyes and saying, "but a planner doesn't work for me". Don't skip this tip just yet. You can write what you are planning on studying on just a piece of paper or at least have a plan in your head of what you are going to study.

If you have time, make this list the night before. I know when I am studying for finals, I feel like I have a million things to do, and a list helps me grounded so I know what I have to do, and I don't have to stress about forgetting to study for a subject.

But do not, and I repeat do not make your to-do list on your phone. It's easy, for sure, and convenient, but clicking on Instagram or TikTok is easy and convenient too.

If you aren't super rushed, you can even prioritize your list, just in case you do not get something done.

Now that your list is written out, make sure you go to bed and get enough sleep, so you won't be tired tomorrow when you are studying.

Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

2. Have Something to Eat

If you are going to be studying all day, then definitely eat breakfast and you can make your to-do list while you eat if needed. If you are studying during the day, having a little something to eat before you start studying is ideal.

Eating while you study, will most likely turn out to be a distraction.

Plus, if you sit down to study and then twenty minutes later you decide you are hungry. Well, guess what? If you eat before you study, then you won't be able to use this excuse to get up and do something else.

Having something to eat before you start studying, will also give you some more energy!

3. Turn Your Phone Off

Great, you have your to-do list and you are ready to study. Put your phone on silent, or even turn it off. Then put it in a different room because a five-minute break can turn into a two-hour break by just simply picking up your phone.

If by some chance, you "need" your phone for studying, you can turn off all other notifications and when you are not using your phone, put it out of arms reach so you have to walk across the room, get up from your desk, etc. to reach it.

Plus, now is the time to remove any other distractions from the environment where you are studying. Some people find music to be motivating. Other people would find it distracting. So find what works for you.

If you are using your laptop to study, keep the number of tabs you have to a minimum, and try to not switch around from studying one subject to the next. Definitely do not have YouTube or a distracting site open. If you only need one tab open, then maximize it.

4. Choosing Where to Study

You might be smiling right now as you are getting comfy in your bed to start studying. Surely, you want to be comfortable while you study, right?

Yes, but studying in your bed is not a good idea. Your bed is meant for sleeping so sitting or *gasp* maybe even lying down on your bed while studying will make you want to fall asleep. Essentially, sitting on your bed while you study is going to distract you.

So, here's the idea.

Pick a spot in your house to study where it's not going to remind you of something else. A place, which you already don't associate with something else. For example, sitting at your kitchen table will remind you of eating, and sitting on the couch in front of the TV will remind you of watching TV even if it is off.

The same applies to what you are wearing. Wear an outfit you are comfortable in, but don't wear your pajamas and leave your blanket on your bed.

Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

5. Make Flashcards

Finally, it's time to start studying. But where to start? The first thing to figure out is if you need to have things memorized or not. Some classes will have open book finals, but if you aren't able to use the book during your test, then you will need to have those facts all memorized.

Paper flashcards are the way to go! Writing down the terms will help you remember what you need to know better than typing them on your phone.

After you have all of them written down, it is time to practice. practice. PRACTICE. As much as you can, whenever you can.

As I said before, practicing right before you go to bed and thinking about the terms as you fall asleep can help you learn terms quicker. I used this method to memorize a paragraph in one day! Well, one day and one night!

Even if you think you won't have enough time to study your flashcards, you can do them while you are eating or brushing your teeth before bed. You could even study them while you exercise. For example, doing a pushup and then flipping the card with one hand while in plank.

If you don't want to be rushed with making flashcards the week before finals, you can start at the beginning of the semester and make flashcards for each chapter as you go and practice them too.

6. Don't Procrastinate

This is why having a plan will help you. If you decide the night before that you are going to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then start studying right away without turning on your phone, then you are less likely to procrastinate.

If you know that you procrastinate and you have trouble not procrastinating studying, you can read How to Stop Procrastinating + Be More Productive.

7. Take Breaks

If you are studying all day, then taking breaks is important for sure. Taking breaks though is where you can become distracted so the type of break you take is important. Grabbing a snack or a drink of water is okay, but don't eat while you study.

A great option is to exercise. Taking half an hour to exercise can check another box on your to-do list as well as giving your brain a break!

If you don't think you have enough time to take breaks, you can switch to a different subject when you feel like your brain is becoming tired, but don't switch back and forth too much or else it will be harder to concentrate.

8. Revision

2024 me here! 🤣 After being in college for two years, I have figured out the study method that has (so far) worked best for me!

Around a week before the exam, I'll spend an hour or two each day, just flipping through the textbook or online course materials, and jotting down all the main points and definitions. I recommend writing these notes down by hand, NOT TYPING. The act of actually writing down your notes is what will help you remember them.

This won't keep all the material in your brain for a long time, so it's best not to do it too early AKA the day after you studied that material in class. Though I should mention doing it the day after class will be helpful for long-term retention of materials, but then you will have to keep doing it at intervals, which is very time-consuming.

Anyway, that was a little tangent. Let's get back to how to do revision. Once, you've gone through all of your course and textbook material, you'll have a few pages (at least) of notes. I generally finish up taking these notes the morning I'm taking the exam. Guilty lol!

I'll spend my last hours before the exam, looking over my notes. It's also a great idea to look over your notes right before you go to bed the day before the test if you can. This method has gotten me the best results on comprehension/memorization tests. Give it a try and see if it works for you!

Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

Using these tips I'm able to study for three to four hours at a time. I hope you found these tips helpful for studying for your finals as well!

Be more productive by reading these other articles too.

Good luck on your finals and have a productive week!
If you found this post helpful, make sure you save it for later! :)

Study Tips for Taking Finals + Any Time in Between

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