This situation happens to all of us. That fateful moment when you find out you completely bombed your Biology test, and getting that A now seems impossible. You’re lucky if you manage to land a B. You thought you were ready for your final test, but your score clearly says otherwise. You pull your hair in frustration wondering what could’ve possibly gone wrong? Don’t let one test get you down. Improve your grades by fixing the source—your study habits.
Save the Date
Remember the first week of classes when your professors handed out those syllabi? Before you lose your syllabi to the dark depths of your backpack, crack them open and write down due dates for major assignments and exams. “ I make lists. If it’s on paper, I feel like I have to get it done so I can cross it off,” University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Kayla Klauck said. Plan ahead, and schedule times to study a couple weeks before the test.
A Little Bit Goes a Long Way
Four days left until your calculus exam, and you haven’t started studying. For the next four days you cram so many numbers and equations in your head you start reciting the quadratic formula in your sleep. You never meant to procrastinate, you just didn’t have enough time during the week, right? Wrong. Studying for a college exam doesn’t mean spending countless hours pouring over lecture notes. If you do it right, studying can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes a day over the course of two weeks. “Two weeks before each test I would study 30 minutes every day for a week. Then a week before the test I would study an hour a day…four days before the test, I would study as much time as I felt I needed to because by that point I had a comfortable feeling of how well I knew the material,” Cody McIntire, Eastern Michigan University junior, said
Thinking Out Loud
Ed Sheeran makes a good point in his hit song. Thinking out loud can do more than just help you find love right where you are. It can also help you find the grammatical error in your English paper. “One last thing I really like to do that helps me reinforce materials is helping explain others the concepts… I’ve found through helping [friends], that it really helps pound material in my head by trying to talk through the conversation from scratch,” McIntire said. Whether you explain material to friends or think out loud to yourself, you can learn class material better. Who knows, maybe while you’re reading your English essay out loud you’ll find love in what you wrote.
Treat Yo’ Self
Don’t forget to take care of yourself even when you have to lock yourself away in the library for a few hours. Take a break to appreciate all that you’ve accomplished during the semester. Whether that means grabbing a snack, working out or just meeting a friend for coffee, make like Nike and just do it. “Taking care of yourself often falls to the bottom of the priority list during exam week, but it can be the very thing that makes or breaks your ability to be successful,” Rebekah Paré, UW-Madison executive director of Letters and Science Career Initiative and Career Services, said. So if you prefer to sweat it out or eat it out over dinner with a friend, reset your mind and refocus before your next study sesh.
Reflect to Deflect Mistakes
Finally, you finished your grueling 15-page history paper on American foreign relations during the Cold War. You’d like to hit submit on that baby and never look back at your tear-stained laptop keys again. But before you throw in the towel, take a second to remember what got you through explaining Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech and what didn’t help you get through the building of the Berlin Wall. Pare said going back and understanding what techniques helped you study for a test can ensure you use those same techniques for the next test. “I found that I learned German more easily by writing grammatical exercises over and over, then speaking them aloud to myself… a little reflection can go a long way in using your study time efficiently,” Pare said.