Shakespeare once wrote “all things are ready, if our minds be so.”
For the average college student, at no time of year is this quote more appropriate than finals time. The difference between an A and a C can often be boiled down to one word — preparation.
With that in mind, there are a number of measures students can take to ensure they give themselves the best possible chance to succeed on final exams.
TopUniversities.com has a list of 10 study tips for success during finals. Included in their list are taking regular breaks which science shows helps individuals more effectively retain knowledge, organizing study groups with friends to act as additional resources for each other and organizing one’s work spaces to limit distractions.
The official blog of the State University of New York (SUNY) also offers a helpful list of what they’ve deemed “Scientifically, The Best Ways To Prepare For Final Exams.” SUNY warns strongly against cramming and pulling all-nighters prior to a final exam. Science has proven that proper sleep and rest is vital to allowing the brain the time it needs to process and maintain new information. Sleep is the time when one’s brain commits all the new information learned during the previous day to long-term memory.
Utilizing more than one study space can also be helpful, as SUNY cites an experiment in which psychologists found that college students who studied 40 vocabulary words in two separate, differently oriented rooms did better on exams than students who studied the words twice in the same room.
Doing 20 minutes of cardio can also improve memory and reduce stress when studying.
Both articles stress two very important aspects to preparing for final exams — nutrition and time management.
Not giving oneself ample time to read and review material can add stress to an already stressful situation and potentially limit the amount of material a person is able to devote time to learning. And it is proven that if one eats the right kinds of “brain foods” prior to an exam, that their chances of success improve.
Recommended “brain foods” include fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt, granola, oatmeal, and low-fat proteins. One should try to forgo high-fat and foods with little nutritional value, such as fast food or anything processed and focus on eating high-carb, high-fiber, slow-digesting foods that help keep energy levels high and the brain well-fueled.