Stress (\’stres\); noun—the inevitable, engulfing feeling that physically presents itself in the form of cramped hands, eye bags, greasy hair due to lack of showering, pubescent-esque acne, and the incapability to actually learn everything you need to before finals. If you’re like me, studying for finals feels like an anxiety-ridden Olympic sport. The biggest hurdle? Staying focused. If you find the stress getting in the way of actually engaging with the material, try one of these 13 unique study tricks when preparing for your exams.
My Very Educated Mother Just Made Us Nine Pizzas
That’s right. Mnemonics. Bring back the elementary tactic because it still works. “I just came up with the mnemonic ‘fat baby momma causes injury’ for the elements of a false advertising claim,” said Washington and Lee law student Jodi Lebolt. Taking yourself back to basic study techniques is a reliable way to make sure you get those “which of these does not belong” questions right on that test. The points add up.
I’ve Got A Blank Space, Baby, & I’ll Write All I Need To Know For This Exam
This tip is perfect for the planners or way-too-busy students in the bunch. “I digest each topic onto one page. Obviously you can’t fit everything, but being able to distill and reorganize all the info onto a single page is the best way to study when there is a ton of conceptual material. Plus, if you do that method for all the midterms throughout the semester, then your final study guide is already made. It’s been a huge game changer,” said UVA senior Madeline Sacrapanti. It may be too late to try it for this spring’s finals, but there’s always next year.
Taste the Rainbow
When attempting to catch up on all those chapters of reading you neglected during the semester, it’s easy to lose motivation. Sugar seems to do the trick. “When I have to get through reading notes, I put a sour Skittle at the end of every 2 pages so I know if I get to that page I get to eat the skittle,” said UVA freshman Reade Pickert.
If you find that you often doze off while studying, try this trick. “I go through packs of gum. I always need something in my mouth. I accidentally chewed through a bunch of headphones so I switched to gum and seeds and the strings on my sweatshirts. It’s like I’m a crack baby,” said UVA sophomore Sam Askenas. James Madison University junior Matthew Sarfan added, “I eat an entire bag of David sunflower seeds per night when I study. I’ve just upgraded to one-pound bags because it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.” You physically can’t chew in your sleep so this is bound to keep you awake.
I’ve often heard you can only have two of the three: social life, good grades, and sleep. If you combine two of them though, just maybe all three are possible. “Last week I studied for an exam at a bar with friends and we each drank a beer per powerpoint,” said junior Liz Benson. Take one down, pass it around, 99 slides of biology to review.
The Osmosis Method
Sometimes absorption actually works. When you’re going over boring information or something you already know but need to review, rewriting notes is the perfect strategy. “When I study for exams, the first thing I do is rewrite my notes. So I don’t die of boredom, I watch Real Housewives re-runs on Bravo (because there is always a marathon on). It’s great background noise and you know to look up whenever Kyle Richards from Bev Hills starts to cry,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison senior McKenna West.
Baby, Jack Sparrow Can Be Your Motivation
Sometimes contrast is key. It’s all about bursts of energy when you’re feeling that impending lull. “I sit in my room or in quiet places with a Nook (not the library ever) and blast the scores to intense movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception, and the Batman trilogy,” said UVA junior Emily Rebh. If “Aggressive Expansion” by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will.
Let’s NOT Waste Time, Chasing Cars
If you have a vehicle at your disposal, use it. “I always go as far away from grounds as possible during exams. That way I feel like I’ve taken the time to make the trip out so I stay for a long time. If I go to the library on grounds or the nearby Starbucks, I get more easily distracted and can convince myself that it’s okay to take a break or go home,” said UVA junior Katy Brown. Plus, being away from campus also means being away from the blanket of stress that seems to cover the entire surrounding area during finals.
The Last Man Standing
Turn those library stints into an unspoken competition to add some zest to your study sesh. “Silent floor—72 hours—it’s like a game. Who can last the longest?” said UVA senior Emma Greever. If your school has food delivery and you bring deodorant and dry shampoo, you’re set to win and to ace that test.
Pip Pip Cheerio
Do you swoon when you hear Liam Hemsworth, Matthew McConaughey, or Eddie Redmayne speak? Me too. So why not employ their appeal to keep you interested in what you’re reading? “Sometimes I speak my notes out loud in a British accent/any other accent to keep it interesting,” said UVA sophomore Abby Carrier. Worst-case scenario, the test doesn’t go well, but you hone your foreign accent of choice and gain a new party trick.
I Like To Move It Move It
If the “get situated for days on end” method doesn’t work for you, try switching things up. “I study hop. I can’t stay in one place for more than a few hours because I find myself starting to get distracted. I’ll go from one library to the dining hall, then a coffee shop. The change of scenery gives me a brief study break and helps me refocus on the next topic I’m studying,” said UVA sophomore Kyle Liggin.
Study With All the Colors of the Wind
If you’ve always been a fan of highlighters then this tip is for you. “I’m a visual person so color-coding key concepts helps me remember the most important things. I make study sheets for each chapter… and colorfully differentiating things helps me remember them better,” explained UVA sophomore Brooke Baader. Get on over to the student store and grab the biggest pack of highlighter tabs and post-its.
Got My iPod Stuck on Replay
This is the one time when it’s okay to pull a Kanye and listen to your own mixtape. “I record myself reading my written notes on Photobooth and then listen to them on repeat until I have them memorized. It’s helpful to hear them in your own voice,” said UVA sophomore Sophie Maus. When you are going with the memorization strategy, your own voice is ideal.
And if none of those work, when in doubt pick “C.” Godspeed, scholars.