The Louisville Cardinal

Surviving Finals: 5 tips to improve studying

By Bryan Mercke–

Finals are knocking on the door, and for many, this sound can make a student’s heart stop. Don’t let the sound of finals intimidate you. Sometimes just the stress of thinking about finals can make studying more difficult. Don’t fall victim, like so many do, to feeling overwhelmed and overworked. We at the Louisville Cardinal know how stressful finals can be, and that is why we have provided five study tips that may help to keep your head above water.

1. Finals time is precious time, and it would be foolish to fritter time away. Inevitably, lack of preparation can be the biggest time consumer; this is why creating a realistic study schedule can help appropriate time more wisely. Leave yourself time for breaks because you know you’ll be taking them anyway. Your classes won’t get offended if you pick favorites, and it would be in your best interest to prioritize which class needs the most attention.

2. Cramming has been a pastime of college students, but believe it or not, this method of studying is not the best way for us to retain information. The Dartmouth Academic Skills Center suggests that students should study in 20-50 minute increments and give themselves a five to ten minute break before continuing to tackle the subject at hand. While all-nighters are tempting for the slackers among us, it would be more effective to study periodically and consistently throughout the week.

3. Many have suggested that just 20 minutes of cardio activity a day can help improve a person’s memory. Taking a short break from studying to go outside and get a breath of fresh air can help relieve some stress and help get your mind focused. The holiday season can be rather cold, and we understand that. If it’s freezing out and the gym is closed, then you can still get your cardio on by cranking up your favorite song and taking a quick dance break.

4. It is often tempting to keep a large bag of Skittles next to your desk to munch on and get a quick sugar rush, but our bodies need more than a little sugar rush if we are going to retain all the information required on finals week. Instead, think about bringing celery sticks, grapes or strawberries to your next study session. Not only will this help keep your growling stomach at bay, but it will also help keep your brain firing on all cylinders.

5. Never underestimate the power of breathing exercises when you are feeling a little overwhelmed with that 25-page paper looming around the corner. Stress can be a huge distraction, and it can at times be countered by stopping what you are doing and focusing on taking slow, deep breaths. Taking deep breaths will only consume a few moments of your time, and it can be done discretely no matter where you are. Focus on your breathing for just a few moments and it can do wonders for realigning your focus on the work lying ahead.

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Photo: Nathan Douglas/The Louisville Cardinal