These past few weeks have been a struggle. I don’t think I’ve ever been so overwhelmed by the insane amounts of work that I had piling up and the little time I had left to complete it all. Stacked on top of the assignments were the mountains of midterms coming my way, and you bet I was drowning in it all.
Looking back on this past week, I bet TONS of you guys were in the same boat and midterm season was getting you down. I figured now would be the perfect time to get all of my own tips and tricks out there so that the upcoming finals season wouldn’t completely destroy us.
Okay, so one of the things I’ve only started doing recently is giving myself a reward system. I’m one of those people who needs to be working towards something, and yes, I know, I’m already working towards good grades but I mean something tangible and something I can get quicker.
I have personally been giving myself little rewards like my favourite coffee, a book, a new candle, little things that I know will give me the satisfaction of getting my work done. The best part about this system is that you know you can’t get yourself that item until you’re done, and if you’re anything like me then you want that thing, fast.
Lots and lots of breaks
One of the things that I find myself doing is getting into the work mode and not stopping until I finish my task. While this can be super productive at times, it can also be really unhealthy. Taking breaks (even if it’s just a minute or two) to have some water, a snack, or stretch, is something that you HAVE to be doing, especially during the long study sessions. Midterm season can get to that point where you need to just sit down and get it done, but believe me, taking the few extra minutes to give your brain a break could mean the difference between a 99% or 100% on that midterm or project.
Lofi music & brown noise
I used to be one those people who loved to listen to music while studying, but as I’ve learnt more about my study method, I’ve realized that the lyrics are SO distracting. It’s sometimes super hard to differentiate the words you’re reading from the words you’re listening to.
For me, lofi music and brown noise have been my saviours. You can find playlists made by people on spotify for this and they’re perfect for studying. Lofi is kind of like elevator music. It kind of feels super chill and easy to listen to and like you’re in a coffee shop. There’s no lyrics, but it keeps me focused enough to get through my work.
Brown noise on the other hand sounds more like you’re on an airplane. It’s pretty easy to give you the ambiance of just nothing going on around you and it’s just you and your ears. I find that brown noise helps me the most as it just blocks out every single other thing going on around me. I can focus solely on the work that it’s in front of me which is super helpful.
As a psych student it was almost mandatory for me to take a lecture in study methods. It was basically a guide on how to do amazingly on exams so here’s my biggest and most important tip of all time: ACTIVE RECALL.
Active recall will quite literally save your grades. I love to use tools like Quizlet or even paper flashcards to help me quiz myself on all of the information I need to know. While it can take ages to make the flashcards, it’s also great for review as you’re learning the content while writing it down. The best part about using a tool like Quizlet is that it now has an AI tool which can test you on questions (multiple choice, long answer, etc.) based on the terms you have put into the flashcards. It’s also great as it has a learn option, a test option, and a matching option. The learn option can help you learn short-term memory or long-term memory and it will test you on the terms in different ways while ensuring you review the ones you get wrong. The test option will come up with a proper test (multiple choice, written answer, true or false, etc.) and will grade you once you complete the test. The matching is a fun game to see if you can beat your time and match the term with the definition.
Quizlet has been my lifesaver over the past few years as it forces me to recall all of the terms and information and really think about the things that it’s testing me on. The best part is that you can switch between knowing the term or the definition. In this situation, it will either give you the term or give you the definition and you have to provide the opposite.
Explain the concept to someone who doesn’t know what you’re learning
One of the things I do before even starting my studying is give myself a term and explain it to my cat, my mum, my dad, or literally anybody who doesn’t know what the concept is. As a psych major, I spent my summer doing a clinical neuropsychology course and having my parents there to explain the smallest parts of the brain and their function was so helpful.
This review method can give you the chance to see where you’re missing information and where you can improve to make it clearer for the person who doesn’t know what you’re explaining.
I know it might seem like it, but YOU WILL NOT BENEFIT FROM PULLING THAT ALL NIGHTER!!!!!!! It isn’t worth it! The amount of times I’ve told myself that the all-nighter right before the exam is going to help me understand the concepts and I’ll do great on the exam, I lied. It is not worth the lack of sleep, messing up your sleep schedule, and having your brain be sluggish and dead by the time the exam rolls around. Seriously, having the extra sleep will actually help you in your learning! I know, shocking, right?! But no, the extra sleep will seriously be the difference in your learning and understanding. Going into the exam with fresh eyes and a brain that is well rested is ideal conditions for an exam. It will set you up for success.
Take these tips and put them into methods that work for you
Before you take these tips and implement them in your study routine, remember that what works for me, might not work for everybody! It has taken me YEARS to figure out a study routine that works for me and keeps me on top of my work, but a lot of these tips are things that don’t work for others!
Try your hand in all of these tips and anything else you may find, but remember that if it doesn’t work for you, there’s an alternative and you’ll find your methods! It’s normal to struggle with studying, but once you find your learning methods, it’s so so worth the experimenting!
Best of luck on midterms & finals <3